Recent Tutoring Session Reviews
"My first meeting with the student was at the library. He is a good student, diligent, personable, and even has a sense of humor. He is in his first year in an English accelerated class, and he is not used to this level, particularly when it comes to recognizing style and tone. He is also dealing with a particularly difficult work, Morrison's "Beloved." He needs help sorting out his impressions and learning to articulate them better, but I would be of most use to him as a writing tutor. He is a quick study, and I don't think there is much that he will have problems understanding once it is explained to him. I had him write a paragraph and the result was intelligent but awkward. He understands, but he tries to pack too much in and simply doesn't have the skills yet. I also gave him a series of reading tests. The only questions that he had problems with are the ones relating to style and tone - for instance, he would characterize a passage as argumentative when it was casual and humorous. The questions were college level ones, and he did as well as, or better, than the average high school senior. Next time he needs to bring essays he has written, comments from his teachers on his written work, and a few examples of the assignments his teachers give him. He also needs to come prepared with specific questions so that I can focus my attention on what he most needs. If he is motivated and we work well together, he will improve fast."
"In our session, the student and I continued preparation for his English exam on Hamlet, Pride and Prejudice, The Namesake, and Their Eyes Were Watching God. The exam will include a poem with a series of short answer questions, and a short story with an essay prompt. Students will have to respond to the short answer questions about the poem and write a paragraph using one of the four texts covered on the exam to support their analysis of the poem and chosen text. They will also have to respond to the essay prompt using two of the four texts covered on the exam to support their analysis of the short story and chosen texts. We briefly reviewed his notes from our previous session and worked to fill in sections of the theme chart that needed more attention. After discussing the themes and brainstorming a bit more, the student completed a practice exam. He read and answered questions on the poem, "The Consent," and thought about how he could relate it to one of the texts. He also read a short story and thought about how he could relate it to two of the texts. He should be well prepared for his exam and I am excited to see continued improvement in his ability to think critically about literature and provide textual support for his ideas."
"During this session, I had the student work solely on expository essay writing. To begin the session, I had him read definitions of narrative and expository writing. We concluded that a narrative tells a story while an expository essay gives information. He understood that his job as a writer when writing a personal narrative is to entertain and his job as a writer when writing an expository essay is to inform. I then had him read two separate, unlabeled paragraphs and asked him to identify which paragraph was a personal narrative and which paragraph was in the expository style. He correctly identified each paragraph. I then presented the student with an expository essay prompt. The prompt asked him to write about his favorite holiday. He chose Christmas. I then had him complete an outline in the organizational format of an expository essay. At the top of the paper he wrote his central idea: Christmas is my favorite holiday. Then I asked him to list three reasons why Christmas is his favorite holiday. Each reason became a topic sentence for one of three paragraphs. Then under each topic sentence, he had to write three examples of why he likes receiving presents, why he likes seeing his family, and why he likes having time off from school. Once he finished his outline, I had him identify each topic sentence and draw lines to separate each body paragraph. This exercise really helped the student get a visual grasp on expository writing. I then asked him what paragraph was missing from his outline and he correctly responded: "My conclusion!" To conclude the session, I had the student read about paragraphs and how a good writer organizes a paragraph and stays on topic. He then read multiple paragraphs in which he had to circle the main idea and underline the supporting details. He also read paragraphs in which he had to identify a sentence that was off topic from the rest of the paragraph. He did an excellent job with all of these exercises. Next week, I'm going to have him turn his outline into an expository essay. Overall, the student demonstrated a much better understanding of what writing an expository essay entails."