Recent Tutoring Session Reviews
"During this session, the student and I spent the majority of the time discussing her academic goals and creative writing. She told me that she feels her GPA is below a 3.0 due to her tendency to procrastinate and forget to submit assignments on time. I asked her what she would like to gain from our tutoring sessions, and she told me that she would like me to hold her accountable on completing her academic assignments to the best of her ability and in a timely manner. In regard to her writing, she told me that she ultimately wants to study Biology in college while continuing to write as a "basement" writer. She is also not preoccupied with a desire to publish her work. She shared an imitation poem with me that she is currently working on for school. We workshopped the piece a bit. I was impressed by the poem's mature theme and the poetic devices that she employed. There was some confusion in regard to two different male characters that appear in the poem. The voice of the poem also shifted throughout its three stanzas, so she and I discussed what her protagonist really wants or needs. The poem's protagonist is a dissatisfied mother who craves a different life. Thus, we discussed how many women have found themselves in this exact situation throughout time as a result of many circumstances, primarily the patriarchy. Once she has more of an idea of her protagonist's exact circumstance, then I feel the voice of her poem will become more consistent and fluid. Time and setting were also a bit confusing in her poem. I encouraged her to be more clear about the time the poem is set in and provide more visceral details in order to represent the time without having to state, "The year is..." as she did in her original draft. She felt that deciding where the mother lives in time will help her have a better understanding of what the mother wants. I also suggested writing the poem from the mother's perspective as a writing exercise to help her get closer to the character of the mother. She seems well-accustomed to the workshop experience, and she was very receptive to my comments and gave thoughtful responses. She is a naturally gifted writer, and she is quite advanced for her age. Not only has she been writing as far back as she can remember, but the art school she attends is set up so that she is able to write three hours a day. She told me that writing has begun to feel a bit like work. She does want to share her work with me from school, but she also said that she'd like to start writing more outside of school. From what she told me, it sounds like her creative writing assignments in school are often guided by her teachers, so she would like to write independently more often and explore her own ideas and seek inspiration outside of school. For our sessions in the future, the tentative structure is to first cover any academic assignments she might have and make sure she is staying on task. I will provide her with different studying and test taking strategies when and wherever necessary. Second, I'll read any poetry assignments from school that she would like to share with me. The remainder of our sessions will be left open-ended. She is interested in free-writing each session and reading a poem or short story for each session. I made it clear to her that I want to ensure all the writing we do together is enjoyable so she does not get burned-out. She is also interested in working on prose pieces although she said she does prefer poetry. It was wonderful getting to know her-- she is an extremely bright and gifted young lady."
"This session, the student introduced me to the basics of the class he's taking and what his current assignment is. We looked over a past paper from the class, and I helped explain or elaborate on some of the comments from his professor. Mainly, he needs to work on developing his arguments further and building more connections between sentences and paragraphs into his writing, to give his papers more of a sense of unity. Today we then focused in on developing a thesis for his rebuttal paper on The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. He explained to me what the points he wanted to make were, and what he wanted to say about them, and I helped him with crafting this into a potential thesis statement, before discussing how he would then elaborate on those three elements in the rest of the paper, before drawing it to a conclusion, where he could also broaden the focus a bit to make the argument a more general one about the rights of patients beyond the scope of this one case. We will meet again on Sunday, by which time he should have a draft written, incorporating research from his reading."
"The student completed the final summary of her book - this took a long time over quite a few tutoring sessions. Even though it was difficult I feel like the exercise was worth the challenge. For me the proof is in how rarely she responds with an "I don't know," or giving very short responses that provide no insight for me and indicate she is not comprehending as she could. Even though she had looked through this book previously, we didn't get very far looking through it. I had brought another textless book to go over today but she really was fascinated by the clouds in the textless book titled Sector 7. She did an awesome job of reading the mood and emotion/ feelings of the characters (mostly clouds!) and putting together a really great story. She was predicting and showed a lot of emotion, especially humor, during her re-telling. I am impressed with the maturity of her creative storytelling. It is a lot of fun to "read" these books with her!"
"Work on crafting expository and argumentative essays and review and thrash out her concept for her short story assignment."
"We started today's session by reviewing the verb worksheets the student completed last week. I quizzed him on a couple of verb forms. He finished one of the worksheets and did another one, on irregular verbs. He was good at using a table of irregular verb forms to identify and correct tense errors. There are some basic irregular verbs that he didn't already seem to have memorized, and that's grade-appropriate knowledge, so I'd like to continue working with him on those particular verbs. Another area I've been working on with him is detail -- he doesn't default to writing descriptively, and I'd like for him to be able to switch back and forth, between employing thorough descriptions and using terse language. I gave him a couple of descriptive/ instructional writing exercises. First, I asked him to write a biography of someone, fictional or not, human or not. The rules were that he couldn't tell me who it was, he had to answer certain questions about the subject, and he could tell as many lies as he wanted, as long as he included at least 3 truths. I would then have to guess the identity of the subject and what was fact or fiction. He wrote a short bio of his dog, with good sentence structure, but not much detail. We proofread it together -- he had a couple of capitalization issues and 2 sentence fragments. He was able to fix the errors with prompting. Next, I asked him to tell me how to do something, as if I were an alien, and without saying what it was he was telling me to do - so, every step needed to be described in detail. He wrote another short, more grammatically correct, paragraph - how to make pancakes. I went through each step of his instructions with him, asking him questions like, "What is a microwave? How will I know how to find it? How do I set the time? I've never done that before." And, he added more detail. Finally, we went back to the verbs worksheet and brainstormed/ talked about more irregular verbs."
"We went over the definitions of adverbs, verbs, nouns, and adjectives. We worked on a passage about extreme weather. We talked about the passage in depth and the student answered a written question. We then identified nouns, adjectives, verbs, and adverbs in the passage."
"We discussed how to research a topic for a research paper. We then developed a few ideas for the research paper the student will be assigned next week."
"The student worked really hard today. We first did a vocabulary quiz of fourteen words that I prepared for her. She got 100 and did it quickly! Afterwards, we read the descriptive and the narrative paragraphs she wrote. We talked about different aspects that would help to make her papers even better. Then we read a draft of a persuasive essay she had written for school. We caught a couple punctuation/ spelling errors and then read through it slowly to look at how she could express herself more clearly, logically, and persuasively. We worked on her thesis statement a bit, on keeping her paragraphs more thematically unified, and on restating her main point throughout so that the reader does not forget and all the points actually support the main idea. We went over the differences between these word pairs: accept/except, effect/affect. For our next class, she has two pieces of homework: a new vocabulary list and a exemplification writing assignment on how the movie Frozen is different from other Disney movies."
"At the beginning of the session the student and I discussed focusing her paper to discuss one particular problem in the legal system. She has obtained several possible sources (mostly library books) for her paper on the legal system. We browsed through them and determined what sections and quotes would be relevant for her topic. We spent the remainder of the session creating a workable outline for her paper. We discussed a possible hook and introduction following the outlines her teacher had given. She then outlined each body paragraph, and she noted the page numbers (and online sites) of the sources she'll be using in each paragraph. We also noted the possibility of her needing to find more sources to support assertions she will make. She is doing a better job understanding that research papers require a very strict structure. For next time she will have a rough draft of the paper for us to review. She will have to move at an accelerated pace because her paper is due next Monday."
"The student showed a marked improvement in the essay she wrote for homework. While it did contain a few grammar / spelling mistakes, which she caught with further proofreading, she clearly took my advice from last week to heart and was able to write a much more compelling personal narrative. She included specific details that added to the suspense and flow of the story, rather than just adding extraneous details to lengthen the essay, as she had in times past. She also utilized much stronger vocabulary words in her essay. There were a few paragraphs that still needed fleshing out, which I assigned her to revise for homework, however, I think she now grasps the fundamentals of personal essay writing. I also had her brainstorm a list of key personal milestones that would make great essay writing material and could be adapted for a variety of prompts. Since she still finds the idea of an unknown essay prompt very intimidating, I assigned several prompts for homework, where she could practice coming up with an essay topic, utilizing what we brainstormed today."
"During this session we worked on an essay the student had. It was based on The Giver and he had to respond to different career choices his family had chosen for him. The essay was a draft and he will continue to work on it during the week. I really wanted him to not only answer the prompt but also build his ideas and really express why he felt the way he did and better explain what he was thinking. Overall it was a good session and the essay should be fine once he fine tunes it."
"The session began with the student working on homework which required her to identify the different parts of an essay including the introduction, the body, and the conclusion. She was then required to read a peer's essay and critique each component using a checklist. She was able to identify the different parts of an essay and tell what the writer should include. However, when it was time for her to use the checklist and offer suggestions to make the essay better, she was unable to do so without assistance. I showed and explained to her what each requirement on the checklist meant and how I would apply it to the peer written essay. Together we worked on the checklist and compared the requirements to the sample essay. Afterwards, she completed several math equations where she had to add fractions. Adding fractions with like denominators was not hard for her. Adding fractions with unlike denominators required more practice. After completing several equations with her, she was able to complete the rest of the sheet independently. Extra practice was left with the student to continue addition of fractions with unlike denominators."