Monthly Archives: April 2014

A Great Day to Learn Something New: A Wednesday at Tubman Elementary



The day was cloudy and gray, but once we arrived at Tubman Elementary School I felt like everything had brightened up. The blue and green hallways were covered by colorful drawings and art pieces made by students. In a few minutes, the kids got out of class and walked down the hallway with their teachers.


In front of the art classroom, where FLOC program takes place, there was a colorful poster that read “Today is a great day to learn something new.” As I was reading this, I wondered “what new thing will I learn?” Soon, the students and tutors arrived to start the FLOC reading program.

There were a few new tutors reviewing the lesson materials and getting ready to start. They looked excited to meet their students. Before the start of the program, the students had fun playing Connect Four, Mancala and other games.

Franklin, a first grade student, was playing while the other students started the tutoring session. Since his tutor was absent, one of the new tutors volunteered to work with him for the day because her student was also absent.

It was interesting to see the dynamic between a new tutor and a student that has been attending FLOC program since fall. The new tutor looked for ways to keep him engaged and motivated to complete the exercises. They were playing games to practice Franklin’s phonic and spelling skills.

After a while, they took some time to have a snack and talk in the hallway. To continue practicing, Franklin had to read aloud every name that was written under the drawings of elephants that were hanging on the wall. He recognized some of the names and told his tutor that the students who made the drawings were his friends. It was clear they were both happy to work with each other for the day.

This was the first time I have visited FLOC program at Tubman Elementary.  The program is small compared to the other programs at FLOC but it also has tutors and students who are committed to succeed. Both staff members assigned to the program, Queen and Ibsaa, show attention to the children and their tutors. They take their time to help them, answer their questions and make them feel welcome.

At the end of my visit, I thought about the quote on the poster in front of the art classroom. Spending a few hours at Tubman reminded me of the importance of having FLOC programs at the schools because it enables more kids like Franklin to receive the academic help and one-on-one attention they need.

(Lisvette García is the Bilingual Recruitment and Outreach Associate at FLOC).

The Language of Mathematics

Bianca NTP

As anyone that works with students will tell you, it’s not always about what you teach them, but the things that they teach you. This spring, FLOC staff has been working hard enrolling and placing more students and tutors into our programs for the spring semester.

One of our new students, Bianca, attends a French immersion school. While reading through her application and gathering some pertinent information to include for her tutor, I noted her school on her student placement. In Washington DC, I am very used to seeing bilingual schools that our students attend, but this was a first for me.

During her first tutoring session, while getting to know each other, she and her tutor discussed her school. Bianca, one of our new 7th graders, has been at this school since first grade, and every subject is taught in French. When they transitioned into the curriculum, her tutor, Ben, wanted to see how well she knew unit 5, which is multiplication and division facts.

Example of a long division exercise using the French style.

Example of a long division exercise using the French style.

During the session, he asked her to switch roles with him and explain him the concept of division. After a little pause, she explained that she can only describe it in French. Bianca then illustrated the box for the long division symbol, which looks completely different from the way most schools teach it. In case you are wondering, the word division in French is répartition. Math may be a concept that is universal but, as her tutor realized, some of the explanations can still be lost in translation.

(Catherine Brenner is an NTP Site Coordinator at FLOC).