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Tutoring in Color

by Ishmael Brown.

tutoring in color

What would the world look like without color, or just black and white?

At some point long ago in the past, we had the fortune of viewing television shows in black-­ and-­white; it was a breakthrough at the time.

Being born in the 1970’s as the metamorphosis to color TV became commonplace, I can remember as a child viewing on our color television set, a show in black-­and-­white and thinking “How can people see in black and white?”, and “How can you make out different things if everything is only in black and white?”

Black and White makes it hard to pick out details in this picture.

In the classroom, we have evolved from the blackboard (green in color) with yellow chalk to electronic devices with thousands of colors. Our teachers use various resources that encourage students to learn, especially online services. In tutoring, we too are evolving with technologies; smart phones, tablets, and the like. However, when it is necessary to write, we should consider one basic luxury; writing notes in color.

Why is this important? Earlier, I mentioned distinguishing items on television. It is comparable to learning new concepts as well. Tutees understand better when demonstrations (letters, numbers, and characters) are distinguishable. The eyes will generally focus in on the “unusual” or “unique”. The Center for Teaching and Learning at Stanford University also noted that the mapping method of note-­taking “is easy to edit notes by … color coding.”

The use of color in this picture allows us to pick out the different types of foliage. Using the lake as an equation we can see easily if the foliage is the same or different on both sides of the lake.

Even in the title of this article, the colors are very noticeable and the eyes tend to float back to the top of the page.

Here is an example to express my point:

tutoring in color

In this two-­step equation, we are solving for x. With no explanation of what is going on, it looks monotonous and  boring. The tutee who has no clue on this concept would have a difficult time following and may have a litany of questions.

Let’s take the same problem and give it color.

tutoring in color

When the color of the text is distributed correctly, tutees are more apt to follow what is going on, and less apt to ask repetitive questions.

Notice that the same number is being added on both sides of the equal sign (line 2) and the same number is being used to divide on both sides of the equal sign (line 4). The tutee can now see and understand the cliché, “What you do to one side, you do to the other.”

Color also makes a difference in literacy as well. Sentence structure, reading comprehension, and other aspects help tutees to distinguish what concepts to focus on. As a National Tutoring Association Advanced Tutor, if you are doing face-­to-­face tutoring, I would recommend tutors to invest in color pens and/or color pencils, and a dry erase board with colored markers. So you can see how color makes tutoring interesting and fun, plus it looks good too.

About the Author: Ishmael Brown, Jr is a Certified math teacher, teaching for 16 years with an impeccable record of motivating students to succeed.

He is the owner and founder of InfiNeXt Educational Solutions, LLC, an educational support company that specializes in tutoring, academic coaching, and workshops and seminars on educational-related topics. Ishmael has a B.S. Degree in Mathematics with a minor in Physics. He holds certification through the National Tutoring Association (NTA) as an Advanced Tutor (with a Mathematics Endorsement) and Academic Coach.

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tutoring in color


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