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Math Tutoring and Desmos

Elizabeth Troup

Brandon is a third grade student at a suburban elementary school in the Ohio Valley. He

is a smart child who struggles in math at times. His teacher explained that he does not always do

his homework when he goes home. Before working with him for the math tutoring project, the

tutor worked with Brandon for America Reads. She took the time to work on his homework with

him for math and to work with him in other content areas as needed. Brandon often works in his

head, and does not write anything down until he has an answer. He can also become frustrated

with himself when he does not understand a concept, and as a result shuts down by putting his

head on his desk or simply refusing to respond when spoken to.

The other student that the tutor worked with is a child named Kylen who is in transitional

kindergarten at the same school as Brandon. His teacher expressed a desire for him to receive

extra help, so the tutor worked with him for America Reads as well as the tutoring project. She

worked with him on counting numbers 0-20 and also writing the numbers. Kylen is a sweet

child who works well, however he is always pulled from recess for tutoring so he is reluctant to

come inside. Once he is inside from recess, however, he is ready to work.

Diagnostic Screening Test Results:

Brandon’s demeanor was quiet but he was willing to work and it did not take him very

long to finish the test. His strengths are in addition, I would say. However, there were several

concepts he was unfamiliar with, in particular multiplication, division, fractions, and decimals.

He did not seem to recognize the multiplication and division signs. With the decimals, he treated

it like it was an extra number. Unfortunately since it was a screening test, I could not explain the

concepts or help him solve the problems. I was still encouraging and I told him it’s okay and to

just solve the problems that he did understand. His scores for each section are as follows:

Procedures: 1.5, sequences: 1.2, simple: 1.4, complex: 2.6, manipulation: 4.2, zero: 2.3,

decimals: 0, simple fractions: 0, and manipulation of fractions: 0. He scored a 3.0 in addition, a

2.9 in subtraction, a zero in multiplication, and a zero in division. His total basic score was a 3.0.

The goals I will establish throughout the learning sessions are to teach him the concepts he is

learning in class in order to reinforce what he is learning and to ensure understanding as well as

tutoring him in concepts he is not yet familiar with, such as that of multiplication and division. I

will teach him using methods that we learned in class and from the book.

When I’m tutoring Brandon I will also keep in mind the content curriculum focal points

for third grade, particularly that of number operations and algebra. I will work with Brandon

primarily on fostering an understanding of multiplication. I will help him understand various

ways of multiplying such as skip counting, using arrays, and using known facts. I will utilize

both invented methods and standard algorithm for multiplying. I will also help him understand

multiplication through use of the commutative property, for even if numbers are arranged

differently they will still have the same product. I will also introduce smaller numbers for
multiplication before bigger numbers are introduced, so that it is easier when he is just learning

the concepts (Van De Walle, Karp, & Bay-Williams, 2019).

I will also utilize the website Desmos for one of my tutoring lessons. Using technology

in education can be beneficial in so many ways. Desmos helps facilitate a student-centered

lesson. Instead of Brandon having to listen to me explain the math, he will be working

completely on his own. I will be there of course to answer any questions or to clarify any

misunderstandings, but by using Desmos Brandon can take charge of his own learning to solve

the problems presented to him. The Desmos lesson will present concepts and offer a variety of

questions throughout for Brandon to solve.

Constructivism is an approach that I will utilize when tutoring Brandon. Constructivism

involves building on prior knowledge when presenting new material, and all my sessions will

include building on prior knowledge, since math in particular is a subject that accesses prior

previous conceptions in order to learn something new. I will also have Brandon justify his

methods for why he solved a problem the way he did and to have him explain his thinking

process. This involves metacognition, which is thinking about one’s own thinking. I will also be

sure to find multiple ways of explaining concepts, for one strategy might be easier to understand

than another. Using a constructivist approach I think will be especially beneficial to Brandon

when I am tutoring him, because he will be the main focus since I will be working with him one-

on-one (Ishii, 2003).

Tutoring Reflection #1
Today was my first day officially tutoring Brandon after the diagnosis assessment. I

wanted to work with him on his homework as well as the concept he had learned in class. His

teacher informed me that he hadn’t really paid attention during class so I wanted to reteach the

concept to him, which was multiplication. The common core state standard I used for this lesson

was “CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.3.OA.A.1 Interpret products of whole numbers, e.g., interpret 5 × 7 as

the total number of objects in 5 groups of 7 objects each. For example, describe a context in

which a total number of objects can be expressed as 5 × 7.” When I had given him the

assessment, he didn’t know what multiplication was, so this was a perfect opportunity to help

him learn a new concept. I really struggled to engage Brandon because unfortunately he was not

responsive at all because he was exhausted. He didn’t communicate with me at all verbally, so I

asked him to write down for me how he was feeling and he wrote “sleepy”. I still tried my best

to explain multiplication to him by drawing diagrams, such as 3 groups of 6 equals 3x6 and then

that that is the same as 3+3+3+3+3+3 (this was one of his homework problems). I also used

smaller numbers to illustrate but I wasn’t receiving feedback from my tutee. I think on

Wednesday I’m going to try to use other multiplication strategies with him and I’m really hoping

he’ll have an easier time understanding it as well as being more awake.

Tutoring Reflection #2
Today was a refreshing change for Brandon, because he was more interactive. He did

communicate with me verbally and his teacher informed me that he was more attentive today

during class. I continued to use the same standard as before, CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.3.OA.A.1. He

seemed to grasp the concept of multiplication better than last time, however I think he is still

struggling with it a little. We worked on his “multiplication caterpillar”, as he was working on

the “4s”. I helped him understand it by drawing an array of a group of four “friends” that I had

drawn as stick figures and each time I added four more to represent another group as the

numbers went up. I also told him that each time we are simply adding four more. After we

finished filling that out, we worked on some problems in his book that showed how addition

relates to multiplication.

Tutoring Reflection #3
Today I worked with Kylen, who is in transitional kindergarten, on numbers 0-20. The

goal was to practice writing them as well as being able to count up to 20. The common core

state standard I used was “CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.K.CC.A.3 Write numbers from 0 to 20. Represent

a number of objects with a written numeral 0-20 (with 0 representing a count of no objects).”

I had a marker board with a marker and eraser and crayons to use as counters. I helped Kylen

count the numbers as he wrote them and if he got stuck I helped him find the next number. I also

taught him the concept of any of the numbers over 10 being “10 and-X” such as “15 is the same

as 10 and 5 more”. I counted out 10 crayons and put them as a group and then counted the

crayons after that. After making it to 20, I wrote a 10 frame on the whiteboard and asked Kylen

to put a certain number of crayons in the 10 frame. I would then have him fill it with more

crayons to introduce the beginnings of addition. After practicing with our 10 frame, I had him

practice counting even more by asking him to tell me how many green crayons there were, and

then I had him count how many pink, blue, and purple crayons there were.

Tutoring Reflection #4
This was the first time I got to work with Brandon this week since he was testing on

Monday. Since he is still grasping multiplication, I decided to keep working with him on that,

(CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.3.OA.A.1) however this time we worked specifically on multiplication in

relation to the commutative property. We worked on writing multiplication sentences using

arrays, and I showed him the difference between the rows and how many there were in each row,

and that the only difference between the problems with the same product (example, 3 x 2 and 2

x3) is that the rows and the number in each row are reversed, but the product is the same. I also

practiced writing arrays from multiplication sentences. Some of the multiplication facts we

worked with included 4x2, 6x2, 4x5, 2x3, and 5x2. I think that the arrays are helpful for

Brandon to understand multiplication better.

Tutoring Reflection #5
I worked with Kylen today again on his numbers. The standard used was:

“CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.K.CC.B.4.C: Understand that each successive number name refers to a

quantity that is one larger.” The goal was to count numbers on dice and be able to discern the

number that is one more and one less than the numbers on the dice. We used soft, large (but

small enough to roll) dice. Kylen rolled the dice and then counted the numbers individually, and

then all together. I would then ask him which number comes before the number rolled, such as

“what number comes before 6?” and then which number comes after that, “what number comes

after 6?” I would also use the terms, which number is one less than 6 or one more than 6. He

would often say the number that came after instead of the one before, so I would then

demonstrate on the dice by covering up one of the dots and having him count the dice again. I

also had Kylen practice writing his numbers using markers and a white board.

Tutoring Reflection #6

Today I worked with Kylen again using the soft dice, but this time I added counters as a

manipulative to pair with the dice. The objective was to read the numbers on the dice and then

count out the corresponding number of counters in order to deepen his understanding of these

numbers. The standard used for this lesson was: “ CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.K.CC.B.5 Count to

answer "how many?" questions about as many as 20 things arranged in a line, a rectangular

array, or a circle, or as many as 10 things in a scattered configuration; given a number from 1-20,

count out that many objects.” Kylen enjoyed using the counters in addition to rolling the dice.

Sometimes he rolled multiple times because he wanted to get specific numbers, so we ended up

practicing counting with a variety of different numbers.


Tutoring Reflection #7

Today I worked with Kylen again using counters and the soft dice. The objective of this

lesson was to reinforce counting numbers 1-12 and comparing numbers that are greater than and

less than. The standard used was: “CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.K.CC.C.6: Identify whether the number of

objects in one group is greater than, less than, or equal to the number of objects in another

group, e.g., by using matching and counting strategies.” I worked with Kylen at his desk in

the classroom and he rolled the numbers on the dice and then counted the total number from both

the dice. I then had him count out corresponding counters. I separated the counters by the

numbers on the dice, such as a 5 and 3. I then asked him which had more and asked him why.

Tutoring Reflection #8

The standard used for this lesson was CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.3.OA.A.1. The

objective for this lesson was to find easier ways to multiply bigger problems. I showed Brandon

how to use different ways to multiply, for instance skip counting and multiplying easier numbers

such as splitting 6x4 into 3x4 twice and then adding the products. I had some problems with

Brandon again because he wasn’t responding to me at all. I’m finding that perhaps Brandon may

have math anxiety since he seems to shut down when he doesn’t understand something. From an

article I read, it is important to stay positive about math in order to reduce math anxiety.

Through all my sessions with him, I am positive about the math. (7 Reasons). I tried to see if he

wanted to do any warm ups such as jumping jacks and I stood up and invited him to do jumping

jacks with me but he remained seated. The only way I was able to get him to respond was to

write down for me how he was feeling, to which he replied “I don’t get this”. I explained the

strategies again to him. By the end of our lesson, he said he understood it “a little bit”. I wish I

could have had more time with him today but unfortunately I couldn’t have kept him for longer

than a half an hour at his school. I am glad that I was able to help him understand it a little more

at least. Our next and final lesson will be using Desmos so I hope that by applying technology

Brandon will be able to make more sense of the multiplication.


Tutoring Reflection #9

Today I had my Desmos lesson with Brandon. The standard I used was

“CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.3.OA.A.3: Use multiplication and division within 100 to solve word

problems in situations involving equal groups, arrays, and measurement quantities, e.g., by using

drawings and equations with a symbol for the unknown number to represent the problem.” The

objective for the lesson was to reinforce the strategies of using known facts and skip counting to

solve multiplication problems. Mrs. Ballatto graciously allowed me to use her computer so that

Brandon could work on Desmos. I sat with him and let him work on the slides and I was there

for clarifications and help if he needed any. I think it went well because Brandon was engaged

the entire time and answered all the questions correctly. One thing I will say though is that he

mostly stuck with using arrays instead of taking advantage of the skip counting and known facts

strategies. Overall, I believe that the lesson went well. Brandon was able to practice math

without becoming frustrated and he also had time to think about why he solved the problems a

certain way and what he used to solve them. The Desmos lesson I created provided plenty of

opportunities to justify his thinking.

Tutoring Reflection #10


The objective for this lesson was to understand the relationship between addition and

multiplication and to be able to select or make proper equations in order to solve story problems.

The common core state standard used for this lesson was CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.3.OA.A.4:

Determine the unknown whole number in a multiplication or division equation relating three

whole numbers. For example, determine the unknown number that makes the equation true in
each of the equations 8 × ? = 48, 5 = _ ÷ 3, 6 × 6 = ?. I worked with Brandon to select the

proper equation to solve a story problem by having an “unknown” in an equation. He was

having trouble understanding so I illustrated the problem by showing him what the unknown

means and why we were trying to find it. We then worked on finding alternate equations to

solve problems. This lesson was different because we were not necessarily trying to find

answers, but instead build an equation. Brandon struggled through some of the lesson, but I still

helped him as best I could to find alternate explanations when he didn’t understand.
Diagnostic Screening Test: Math Scores

Student: Brandon Date: 10/15/2018

Procedures: 1.5

Sequences: 1.2

Simple: 1.4

Complex: 2.6

Manipulation: 4.2

Zero: 2.3

Decimals: 0

Simple Fractions: 0

Manipulation of Fractions: 0

Addition: 3.0

Subtraction: 2.9

Multiplication: 0

Division: 0

Total Basic: 3.0

Mathematical strengths: Understands basic addition and subtraction

Mathematical Weaknesses: Doesn’t understand multiplication, division, fractions, and decimals.

Works Cited:

Ishii, D.K. (2003). Constructivist views of learning in science and mathematics. ERIC digest.

ERIC Clearinghouse for Science Mathematics and Environmental Education.

Van De Walle, J.A., Karp, K.S., & Bay-Williams, J.M. (2019). Elementary and middle school

mathematics: Teaching developmentally. Boston, MA: Pearson Education, Inc.

(2003-2015). 7 reasons behind math anxiety and how to prevent it. Retrieved from: