Recent Tutoring Session Reviews
"We began work at 3:10, working on the student's dining room table. Student had to create three poems for his English class due next Wednesday. He had already completed one but was having trouble with the other two. Our goal today was to complete those two. We read the assignment sheet carefully so that we knew the parameters of the creation. The first poem needed to concern nature or love. After some discussion, he chose nature as his subject matter. Because we were looking out over the backyard of his house, I suggested he might want to use that panorama as his subject. He then hit upon the idea of contrasting "out there" with "in here." Line by line, he wrote his descriptions; I coached him to avoid adjectives and focus instead on strong nouns and verbs. "Show us, don't tell us," I advised him. The poem went well and I read to him what he had written so he could get more perspective on the work. The second poem was what his instructor called a "slam" poem, a poetic presentation of a personal event. He chose a football game in which he played, and the night he watched his friend fall and get seriously hurt. Again, I encouraged him not to summarize his personal feeling so much as describe the moment so that the reader could create his own emotional reactions. As he developed the poem, I asked him whether there was any philosophical meaning for him in seeing his friend fall like that. He explained for a full five minutes how that experience had changed his life. "Too bad we didn't record that," I said. He then tried to tie the philosophical meaning into the poem. When I read it back to him, he was very pleased. I suggested he read the poem several more times between now and Wednesday to see if there were any images he might want to tighten up and rewrite. He was excited with his accomplishments when I left."
"The student and I worked on contemporary American literature and organized his outline/thesis for his History final paper."
"Today the student and I met for the first time. She explained that she wants to learn the rules for English punctuation and style. Therefore, we began with subordination and coordination, and the related the uses of punctuation. We then proceeded into the comma splice and how to recognize it and fix it. We additionally discussed the colon, semicolon, and the conjunctive adverb. I left her with a homework assignment to memorize the coordinating conjunctions and a list of subordinating conjunctions. I am sending her a worksheet on commas and semicolons today. She will also find the hardest editing job she faces and we will work on it together on Friday. I also gave her a copy of a technical writing manual to study and markup. This will assist her with all immediate editing concerns. We will start at the granular level, and then build up to looking at larger structures and internal coherence. I feel we can target all major matters for editing well in under four weeks. She shows herself to be a very sharp writer with superb focus. I thoroughly enjoyed our meeting and look forward to providing her with more instruction."