Recent Tutoring Session Reviews
"During this session, the student and I discussed Jeffrey Eugenides' Extreme Solitude. The student did an excellent close reading of the text. She made insightful observations about the text, such as the significance of the tonal shifts within the story and Eugenides' masterful employment of dialogue. I began our discussion by offering a working definition of Derrida's deconstruction philosophy and how it directly pertains to literary analysis. The student demonstrated an understanding of deconstruction as we analyzed or "deconstructed" Extreme Solitude through Derrida's lens. Eugenides story is itself a deconstruction of the love story and embodies many of the tenets of deconstruction. For instance, deconstruction states that there are often contradictions and oppositions within a text. Thus, the student and I looked for and analyzed the many contradictions present within Extreme Solitude. We especially focused on the tonal shifts within the story which were often in direct opposition with the theme of the over intellectualization of love in Madeleine's Semiotics class. In these tonal shifts, Eugenides' language almost becomes animalistic and banal and entirely focuses on the senses and the physical side of the human experience. We concluded the session with a free-write. For next session, the student is to have read Sweetheart Sorrow and written new drafts of her poem and short story."
"In this session, we specifically focused on reviewing primary sources and proper citations and on preparing a research project's introduction leading into the thesis. We discussed crafting the student's project's introductory remarks that synopsized the Boston Tea Party. I mainly focused on tips for gaining the audience's attention, properly framing the event for the context of the thesis, and providing enough background perspective to inform the audience of any missing information. After going through this process, he found that his thesis was not as refined as it could have been. So, we discussed tightening the focus. He also worked on writing a strong attractive title and finding properly sourced images to grab audience attention. This session was really more about what a research project really encompasses in terms of giving new insight into an old topic. It does so by producing original research and asking a specific question that may not have already been covered before or may not be common knowledge. I think I gave the student some important perspective on why we create projects like this in the first place. I spoke with his mother, and they will work on the center section of the project board, which includes the title, pictures, synopsis, and thesis."
"We went over the student's revised paper after our first session, and I think the paper is really good. I hope she earns a good grade. She is very bright and very kind and a pleasure to work with."
"I edited the student's introduction, background, and method. During our session, we found more sources for his paper by looking through other lit reviews' bibliographies and looking more closely at papers we initially thought weren't useful. He will edit the decision tree and evaluate his sources with it and then collect his findings for analysis and conclusion."
"We did lots of work. We first read the student's writing assignment on the movie Frozen and how it is different from any other Disney movie. As such, this was a comparison and contrast paper. She did a great job, but I am intent on helping her acquire mature writing skills. We worked to make the intro state more clearly her points. Then we made sure that, not only does she give a structuring statement for how she is going to prove her point, but she also creates a thesis statement. We worked on the second paragraph as well. We read William Blake's "The Tyger" and TS Elliot's "Macavity." We discussed the form and matter of each poem. The student has an amazing intuition into poetry. I also gave her a new writing assignment that is also comparison and contrast. We talked about the difference between writing it point by point or subject by subject, and talked about the advantages of each. Then, she did the vocabulary quiz I made for her. She did an excellent job! She got them all right and there were some difficult words! For next week: I sent her a link to Edgar Allan Poe's "The Raven," and we are going to discuss it. She is going to send me her essay "Frozen," so I can put some comments on it. She is going to write a comparison and contrast of two characters in the novel "The School for Good and Bad.""
"Broke down the elements of effective description in writing; explained how and when to use a thesaurus."
"We reviewed the structure of poetry, defining what is poetry in the modern era vs. earlier times, and went over and practiced some of the simpler forms. I showed the student some of the elements of scansion and the importance of patterns of rhythm and sound. We spent a little time on the Shakespearean sonnet and I introduced him to poetic meter and the 6 main forms in the English language, as well as discussing the importance of these formal elements in things like advertising and catchy sayings -- aphorisms, epigrams, rhymed couplets, etc. We also began discussing Asimov's Foundation series. He is more than halfway through the first book. He will write a brief review next time on what made him decide he didn't like it, or what convinced him to finish the book. He has a long list of other books to read -- my main focus is to find something that he enjoys that is more challenging for him."
"The student worked on her Greek mythology project. I helped her edit her presentation so it would fit in a four minute time slot and helped her do extra research to go more in depth with her topic (the goddess Hera)."
"We started the session by assessing what the students' main difficulty was. It turns out this was writing a clear thesis and conclusion and carrying that through in the supporting paragraphs. We then continued with them writing the outline for an essay about the feelings of a little boy in an excerpt of the story "Owl's Moon." Homework will be to write up the essay for next time."
"Student A and I worked on math and vocab today. She had a double sided math worksheet on using the number line to do addition problems. There were a lot of problems to answer, but she did a great job sticking with it! At the end she practiced doing some in her head, and only using the number line when she was really stuck. She surprised herself on what she could remember! We finished the session by doing a hangman exercise with her vocabulary words. Student B did not have homework tonight, but has been struggling with writing in school. His class is spending time currently learning to write 5 paragraph essays. Although all the work is done during the school day, his mom wanted him to think about how to set up the paper so that he was more prepared when he got to school. He and I talked a bit about what the paper should look like, and the topic he wanted to explore. I then showed him how he could make an outline for the paper on his own, that could be used in class to jog his memory and help organize his thoughts. We came up with one introductory and one concluding statement, as well as three headings for the three main body paragraphs. His paper is arguing that video games are good for your health because they are interactive, contribute to brain expansion, and are fun. For each of these reasons, we came up with words and phrases as to why these things happen with video games and why they are healthy. He was feeling very good at the end, and ready to write his paper."
"Worked with student through writing/ grammatical revision passages and continued work with student on state assessment writing review. Went over a writing checklist again and reinforced lesson from last time."
"The student and I spent today's session going over: 3 essays for the application to an engineering camp , an in-class essay for his AP Lang/ Comp course, and an essay for a camp at the a university. For the two essays he had already written, I had him read them both aloud. We then discussed ways to make his writing more efficient, including collapsing sentences, eliminating redundant explanations or descriptions, and sometimes restructuring the order of certain sentences. For the third essay, we broke down the essay prompt and discussed how he would address each element. We brainstormed ideas and came up with a simple outline that he can fill in quickly and easily. We then transitioned to discuss an in-class essay and how he could have better fulfilled his teacher's suggestions. He again read the essay aloud and we discussed the strong elements in the essay before I highlighted how he could have made the essay stronger. I suggested he underline the prompt and then use that relevant information to create a brief outline to serve as a reminder of the important things to include once he starts writing. I also explained how giving a thorough evaluation of a counter-argument can only strengthen your main argument, since this demonstrates a maturity and impartiality of analysis (and avoids bias). But I also reminded him that he can use tone and diction to undermine the counter-argument even as he is working through it, in order to maintain overall support for his main argument. Finally we worked through a brief statement of purpose for U of I. I again suggested how he could condense certain elements and eliminate redundant phrasing in order to free up words to use elsewhere with more impact. Overall, he has strong command of organization and analysis. By introducing a simple outlining process and more efficient word choice and sentence construction, he can take his writing to the next level."