Recent Tutoring Session Reviews
"We focused on the students' English coursework today. They had been assigned writing prompts for homework in the form of a journal. However, after we discussed the prompts aloud, both students seemed to have a clear understanding of what was being asked and answered the questions thoroughly and thoughtfully. We read the poem, "Grudnow," that had been assigned and discussed its meaning together. Once I had explained a few key vocabulary terms and historical / cultural references they were not familiar with, they were able to understand the poem, and we had a lively discussion about its possible interpretations. They took notes, which they will then use to write fleshed out responses in their English 'journal.' I requested to see these responses when we next meet. We also went over dramatic reading and public speaking techniques in preparation for their oral presentation of the poem. I asked them to practice recording themselves reciting the poem, and we'll go over their progress next time."
"We worked on the student's English assignment about World War I. He has the choice of producing a creative product or writing an essay. The topic is addressing the difference between pre-war and post-war feelings, based on seven selections provided by the teacher. The creative options are 1) a journal entry (fictional); 2) three poems of no less than ten lines each; or 3) an editorial and an op-ed piece. Each of these is to be accompanied by a one-page response paper. The second option is to write an essay (using the claim-evidence-commentary method). We discussed the assignment. He chose the journal entry. I emailed him and recommended he read these additional items to prepare: 1) A recent news article "Elicitation"; Trammel's "Spoon Boy" (a short story about the US Civil War); and the first few chapters of Stephen Crane's "Red Badge of Courage." I showed him how to access Crane's work through Project Gutenberg. We closed the session with some vocabulary work."
"This session, to bridge the gap between being able to identify grammar components and sentence structure like independent clauses, dependent clauses, subordinate conjunctions, etc. and combine select components to make viable sentences and manipulating language to ensure descriptive, but concise writing, I had the student complete several exercises surrounding a small passage from a short story. The exercise required her to identify what emotion the author was trying to elicit with her writing and then select one sentence of interest to break down (by part of speech, among other things) and put back together (with different word choices, but maintaining the same meaning or comparable wording but with a different meaning). She did not have difficulty with this exercise or understanding its purpose (being able to pick apart her own writing as a critical reader/editor), but found the passage, itself, unsatisfying. We talked about this a bit. She enjoys storytelling, emotional hooks, and putting text in context so the fact that she was being forced to engage with a small snippet from the middle of a book made for a bit more challenge. From here, I had her identify the compound-complex sentences and other grammar components in the passage. Other than needing a brief refresher on subordinate conjunctions, she did a good job of underlining and labeling the passage appropriately. I then asked her to build a story -- to paint a picture -- from the details included in the passage. In the spirit of the Socratic method, I asked her various how, why, and when questions about the two characters involved in the passage as well as the rationale behind the primary character's father's secretary trying to assist her. I then pushed her to come up with, record, and ask herself questions to help with building a foundation for her own version or interpretation of the story. To extend this exercise just a bit further, I gave her the option of including text before the passage in question or after. Ultimately, she decided after would be best for developing the story at hand. We intended to take some time with the edits she promised to make on her reflective, free-flow journal piece, but due to a saving error she did not have the edited version she planned on printing for review during this session. Her plan is to have the piece (and the show and tell assignment that flows from it) completed by/for next session."