ALTA Tutor Talks: Collaborative Learning

i Feb 25th No Comments by

In last week’s segment, ALTA tutor Nicole Pichery and fellow volunteer Joseann Jemmott spoke about the initial student experience and breaking the ice in the classroom. This week, they continue to explore the ALTA classroom and interpersonal relationships.

Nicole: What are some of the resources that our students have to help them learn?

Joseann: We have the ALTA Workbook, which is full of lovely lessons relevant to our students’ everyday lives, each one beginning with a reading passage. We have the phonics cards which practise the sounds of the letters. Students also use sight word cards to practise recognising words that we use every day. So, what you find is that a student will come and say, “You know I saw the word ‘open’ on a lot of shops.” We review our cards at the beginning of each class.

Nicole: When students join the ALTA programme, it’s amazing to see the transformation that occurs between when they come in on Day One and when the academic year ends. What changes do you see in your students?

Joseann: In first term, I would say that you get to know each other really quickly. The students encourage each other, and when it’s time to transition to the second term, you will often hear, “I hope to see you. I hope to see you coming back.” They’ll remark “Miss, I’m not seeing this person. Call this person.”

Students may even exchange numbers, and become accountable to one another. When they don’t see a student, they inquire. There’s genuine care for each other in the classroom. Students know that someone cares. It drives the tutor to come every single time. Seeing that students want to learn and that they support each other, how can I not be there to be that support for them?

Nicole: So, Joseann, you talked about the relationship that these students have with each other in the classroom. I have experienced students starting off very timid and shy, but at the end of the year, they are really encouraging each other. Returning students encourage and support new students telling their classmates, “You can learn it” and building camaraderie. Have you had that experience?

Joseann: Definitely Nicole. Seeing the students help each other is one of the things that really motivates me. They enjoy figuring things out together. The thing is, you will have some who are strong in some areas and others who are not as strong and they complement each other. They often gravitate towards that person. “OK, you don’t understand this? Let’s learn!”

A student comes to mind. This student is really effective at drawing students together and helping them. It’s always, “Learn phonics − phonics is the main thing you need to learn. Phonics is at the centre of this. It’s important to learn phonics and the sight words!” “Don’t forget your sight words!” So, you know, they are aware of the importance of what strengthens their learning. As they begin to understand the phonic code, the relationship between sounds and letters, as tutors we continue to make the links for our students, “Now that we know these phonics, we’ll can spell these words,” and so on. It helps them to understand.

Nicole: The encouragement and reminders classmates give to one another are so important to our adult learners. The ALTA classroom is a collaborative environment.

Joseann: ALTA creates a really beautiful dynamic. ALTA is a beautiful programme!

If you or someone you know is interested in becoming a tutor, joining a class, or becoming a sponsor, call 624-2582 or email Keep up to date with ALTA on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram: ALTA TT