Saturday, October 08, 2011

Tips and Tricks (or Treats)

What are we talking about when we discuss tutoring tricks? We are talking about means of invoking the student’s voice. But, how do we encourage them to write without telling them what to write? There are several tricks that I employ on a daily basis. Some of these I have developed through experience, others I have adopted form suggestions left by previous tutors. The fist of which is asking the student to repeat an unclear sentence in “their own words” (a phrase I loath because no one owns words.) Often times the student will convolute their statements in an attempt to use a formal voice, however they can sometimes lose the meaning in the process. Oddly enough, when the paper is turned over and they are asked to rephrase the sentence out loud to the tutor, the student constructs a sophisticated yet uncomplicated sentence. The brain is a troublesome thing, is it not? Another trick (of my own invention) is underlining a phrase or clause that needs revision and asking the student to tell me what needs fixing. When you isolate the area, it’s easier to identify the glitches, and typically they spot the issue within a few seconds. Another tip I could offer concerns thesis statements. I’ve seen tutors help students hammer out solid thesis statements without reading the paper first, but I’ve discovered a method of strengthening thesis statements that requires fewer supporting paragraphs needing revision. I suggest reading through the paper and returning to the thesis statement when you have established what it is that the paper discusses, rather than creating a thesis statement that is irrelevant to the student’s argument. I used to approach the thesis first, and in my inexperience, I would suggest changing every paragraph in the body of the essay. Oops. Other than that, I don’t know that I have much else to say that isn’t common knowledge to every tutor. In fact, much of what I have discussed may be anyway. I want to talk a little about my favorite impending season! (Even though American pop-culture has made a travesty of the whole festival… All in favor of publicly stoning Stephanie Meyer, say, “Aye!”)

Is everybody else as thrilled as I am for fall? The season when nature makes its final displays of beauty before it dies for four months. I just bought eight monstrous pumpkins to carve twisted and vicious facades into, and one of them is over sixty pounds! It makes the great pumpkin in Charlie Brown look like an acorn! Is anybody else a little nostalgic for the Halloweens of their youth? I miss the days of being frightened and running through the streets, crazed with sugar, tormenting other children. The last few years have disappointed me greatly, watching my nitwit friends indulging in the same inebriated shenanigans they do every other weekend, only this time, they’re dressed up as slutty pirates or zombies. Does anybody know a way to recapture the epicness of All Hallow’s Eve? This year I wanted to wear the skulls of forest animals and dance around a bonfire, but everyone else thinks it’s “weird.” Is it me? Or does anybody else think that some nice pagan frolicking would do the trick this year? Any thoughts?


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