Recent Tutoring Session Reviews
"In this session, we examined the writing process, beginning with brainstorming, and moving from brainstorming to a first draft. We started by reading a selection from the book Writing Tools, which discussed the need to silence the inner critic during the idea-gathering process. I then explained a few brainstorming techniques, including freewriting, clustering, and listing. To practice the writing process, I assigned the student a persuasive essay, taking the opportunity to cover logos, ethos, and pathos--the elements of persuasion. We looked at the recent State of the Union address for examples of each element. I gave the student five minutes to freewrite, and thirty minutes to write a first draft. To help him transfer information from the freewriting to the draft, I recommended he consider the reader: his beliefs, his knowledge, and his values. In the meantime, I marked a previous essay he had written and summarized the essay's strengths and weaknesses. We concluded our session by reviewing comma usage in compound and complex sentences, and by practicing with comma placement in ordered lists, appositives, and nouns of direct address. The student will complete his persuasive essay and send it to me before next session so I have time to comment on it."
"The student and I went in depth into understanding the prompt, identifying purpose, and audience. We heavily annotated the prompt and used it to begin brainstorming research questions and a rough outline. I ended with showing her how to create a table of contents when reading resources and assigned her to go over her reading material and follow that process."
"The student and I discussed her interest in history, current events and writing, and specifically the essay she had to submit to be considered for the university's summer program on genocide. We looked at what she had written, and then discussed how to approach the assignment. She told me she had problems organizing her thoughts, so we used the university's structure/questions and began to write a bare-bones outline as a (re)start. I asked her to then consider how to put flesh on those bones. We also discussed why she wanted to attend the genocide course, and how her skills seemed to cluster around communication of newsworthy events, historical and current -- including her special ability to illustrate (pen/ink drawings). I suggested she research how people had expressed genocide in the arts (writing, illustration). I later exchanged subsequent emails with her mother, who told me that the student began to write as soon as she got home. She is a very talented young woman, and simply needs to back up and read questions before she jumps into writing! She could be an excellent journalist/essayist."