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Friday, February 10, 2017

Words of Inspiration from Susan Cunningham from Rend Lake

Special Learning Needs Institute participant Susan Cunningham, Disability Services/Title III Activity Director from Rend Lake College shares the following experience and insight.

"I tutor a student in math. In this one-to-one situation, I have started structuring and modeling the task. I demonstrate a skill by telling her about it and creating a clear written example. I then, on the same page, have her do a very similar example using the pattern in the demonstration and describing what she is doing.  At this point, if she was able to describe the process, I ask for feedback on how confident she feels with the skill.  If she feels ready to work on her own, I give her the example page to use as she works.  If she is unsure, I do another problem, modeling and describing the process.  The student then does another problem and we reassess.

The feedback from the student has been extremely positive.  She seems to understand the material more quickly.  She feels the 'notes' from our session are already a helpful study aid. The most positive outcome is she has requested additional tutoring time.
What is interesting is this approach actually takes me less time.  While I have to be conscious of organizing the task in a clear manager, the access to these notes has made the student more independent and improved her confidence level.  Re-teaching is not necessary nearly as often."
Thanks Susan!


  1. I use a modelling strategy very similar to this with my adult learners! In general, they seem to feel more comfortable if I show them how to do something before explaining a concept then throwing them straight into an assignment. They feel more secure if they can "copy" something they've seen me do, affirm with me that they did it correctly, then move on to trying the problem out on their own.

  2. Thanks for commenting Leslie! Modeling and providing a structured learning environment to build confidence is so important!