Recent Tutoring Session Reviews
"The student completed writing her assigned literary response. We also were able to hone her presentation skills, as this paper will be presented to the class, and is a significant portion of her grade."
"The student and I talked about an essay she was writing for a contest as part of her religion class. We talked about the structure of the essay and how to find credible sources."
"This session was postponed a day per the student's mother's request. My intention going in was to present her with a structured lesson on "showing versus telling" and provide her with examples of this. I also wanted to work with her to transform telling sentences into showing sentences, have a discussion about how such distinctions make writing different for both the writer and reader, etc. Based on what I've seen of her writing thus far, her ability to write descriptively (using advanced vocabulary and metaphor) is advanced but we will need to review the ability to paint a clear picture using concrete examples, proper nouns, dates, statistics, etc. The deadline for her final paper for her English class' unit on Lord of the Flies is in two weeks. The essay prompt called for her to discuss Ralph, Piggy, Jack, and Simon's interactions and relationships in symbolic terms, addressing what each character represents, the message inspired by each, and the greater symbolism indicated. Because of her great success in applying the mind map lesson from last session this past week (she developed a mind map to help her study for a chapter chemistry quiz, which she got 100 percent on), we agreed that relying on a graphic organizer to lay down a foundation for the Lord of the Flies paper made the most sense. Before having her determine a starting point for the mind map, I asked her about the approach she planned to take. She determined because, in her words, she often doesn't get specific enough it would be best to start with the specifics, a more narrow focus and then tie this to Golding's broader message or a bigger idea. I suggested we really drill into the characters. She began by jotting down the names of the four characters in question. We then began talking about their one or two stand-out defining characteristics. As she established and documented these, she could not help but talk about specific interactions and reactions and power plays among characters. This helped her with making note of certain instances in the book that defined relationships between characters and made the good versus evil/dark versus light/order versus chaos paradigms all the clearer. As we explored this I asked her guiding questions and we reviewed some of the symbolic terms we had discussed when creating the initial mind map surfaced. This made her more confident in the process, as she originally expressed doubts about how she'd bring the symbolic terms asked for in the essay prompt into the fold. I then had her tackle the bottom of the mind map: define what spiritual warfare means to her, how Golding might define it, and address how some of what we were able to draw out about Ralph, Simon, Piggy, and Jack could be tied to the various definitions on the table. She recognizes that she has more work to do on the character front and in filling in the middle (making connections across the board and locating and using strong quotations from the book), but said she now is much more sure about what direction to take when developing the first draft of her essay. She and family will be out of town this coming week, but I let her know she is more than welcome to e-mail me a beginning draft of the essay for edits while she is gone. In the meantime, I promised her I'd send her an example of an essay rubric since she has never worked from a rubric when drafting an essay. We talked about how a rubric touches on what distinguishes an A paper from a B paper and so on, and how this can make a final edit more meaningful and effective (when you know exactly what must be included and reflected in your writing to get that top grade)."
"I worked with the student out of the state assessment preparation workbooks. I gave him two reading passages and question sets and worked with him to identify correct answer choices. I suggested he put a check mark after each sentence he read to keep him engaged. I also stopped him after each paragraph and asked for a summary of it, to make sure the student was retaining the information he read. With these two techniques, the student's focus seemed to improve and he was much more able to answer the related questions correctly. Finally, I drilled him on the vocab words from last week and gave him a few new words to study."
"This session, we devoted most of our time to reviewing the student's English paper on The Great Gatsby. He had several possible thesis statements to work from. We ended up zeroing in on one of the prompts, dealing with honesty/trust and Gatsby's lies, though as he discussed his pieces of evidence for it, we decided that the thesis might work better if focused instead on social status and Gatsby's attempts to acquire it in order to win Daisy. So, the student wrote a new provisional thesis focused in that direction, and we discussed how he might continue to refine it and give it more depth. We spent the end of the session doing a fast review of the Latin material we've gone over in the past couple weeks, in preparation for his exam in that class. I left him with instructions to continue reviewing, and doing some of the exercises in the textbook and checking his answers with the included charts."
"We discussed the student's current readings: 1) The Breadwinner by Deborah Ellis (library class) and 2) The Watsons Go To Birmingham - 1963 by Christopher Paul Curtis. We read chapter 13 of Curtis's book about events in Birmingham in the summer of 1963. We discussed the author's narrative technique and use of interior monologue as the protagonist tells the story; we talked about the question raised by the student's teacher, who asked her students what they thought the author meant with the phrase "meanness and fun." We had extensive discussion about plot elements, characters (motives, personalities, and development), and the use of simile and metaphor. The student sought an answer to the whirlpool in the story, leading us to a discussion about the metaphor and allegory used by the author to introduce the violence tearing Birmingham apart during the anti-segregation marches and the lost of life in the summer of 1963. I gave the student vocabulary and assigned the first three pages of the document for next week. I assigned her essay topic: "If you could spend an afternoon with a famous person, with whom would you spend it, and what would you talk about?" I gave her three "Daily Writing Tips" selections and asked her to answer the exercise questions."
"The student was scheduled to take an exam on Wednesday. Her teacher had provided her with a study guide for her to complete, which would enable her to be fully prepared for the exam. The study guide covered the definitions and functions of prepositions, types of verbs (action, linking and helping verbs) and included whether or not they functioned as transitive or intransitive verbs, and the types of conjunctions. During this session, I assisted the student with studying for the exam by explaining the parts of the speech and their functions. Then, I also assisted the student with practicing identifying these parts of speech in sentences."
"We worked on reading comprehension, vocabulary (opposites/contrasts), grammar (simple present vs. present continuous and use of prepositions such as: at, in and on) and conversation."
"We reviewed the student's assignment: 500 words about her interpretation of a poem based on the Odyssey. She chose Dorothy Parker's poem "Penelope," and had some good insights into what the poem was saying and how it could be interpreted. She only needed minor guidance in making sure she looked at all the questions in the assignment and organizing her essay so that it flowed well, covered everything she had to say, and was long enough. She has really good ideas for writing."
"We reviewed the narration for the student's journalism video project and then looked over a response paper for her English class."
"Client is writing a literary analysis of "Fahrenheit 451," and together we worked on his first task, which is to craft a thesis sentence. I have never read the novel, but I am familiar with its premise and its message. Together, we reviewed the elements of a well-formed thesis as well as the 10 essay prompts he could use as the basis for his thesis. Although I have never read the novel, this was in some ways helpful because it compelled the client to explain the novel's plot and literary elements. To help him overcome the writer's block, I took the notebook away from him and asked him to dictate his ideas to me. We then reviewed his ideas, picked out the strongest points, and Client pieced together a thesis sentence that he feels comfortable defending. I advised Client and his mother that if he gets writer's block again he should try dictating his ideas to someone else or record voice memos on his iPhone and then pick out the useful parts."
"The student is writing a research paper focusing on the validity of the American dream in relation to The Great Gatsby. The student and I went over his thesis statement, the organization of the paper, and looked into several different sources for justification of his thesis. The student will send a copy of his first outline draft to me."