"Today, the student and I began by discussing a short writing assignment she completed over the weekend in which she briefly summarized a text. We discussed some grammatical and style issues in her summary, such as agreement issues between subjects and verbs and incorrect use of noun and verb forms of words. We also talked about strategies for outlining a summary this short, such as focusing on the abstract, introduction and conclusion of the text to get an understanding of the author's purpose and argument in order to create an outline and only using the body text to flesh out how the author examines the thesis.
We then discussed her upcoming paper on a text that could be described as a biography or an autobiography, or both. We discussed how to go about creating a thesis that is defensible and refutable. We discussed what the first paragraph of her essay might look like, including the common introductory paragraph structure that first describes a commonly belief, then points to evidence challenging that belief and then reconciles the two beliefs in a thesis statement that offers an argument. In writing her thesis statement and early drafts, she is going to try reading sentences out loud to check that her ideas are translating into the words on the page. She's also going to focus on keeping the language simple.
We concluded by going over her first paper from this class which needed significant improvement in both content and writing style. We talked about how the paper needed a stronger and more clearly defined thesis statement and the paper needed to be more clearly rooted in the text. We then focused in depth on rewriting the opening paragraph so that it built up to the thesis statement. We particularly focused again on setting up the tension between two views that could be resolved by the argument in the thesis statement. We also talked about simplifying the language and avoiding "filler" words."