Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Things I Do

Well, one of the first things I do when a student brings a paper in is look at the introductory and conclusion paragraphs. This is a good way to get a feel for the purpose of the paper. It also gives the student a chance to remind him or herself of the need to answer the "so what" question. A good thesis actually creates the theme of a paper. For example, the theme of a paper usually follows closely to whatever premise the writer has decided to attempt to prove valid or invalid. A writer might be trying to disprove a claim that nice guys finish last, so the theme of the paper would be the laws of attraction and why bodybuilder Jersey shore type guys are a waste of a girl's time.

Another really excellent technique is to let the student read the paper out loud. I know some students will naturally be opposed to this idea, but it's a great way to get the tutee correcting his or her own mistakes. While this is going on, I put small marks on the paper in places that need to be revisited later. I'll admit when I first started this job, I had the tendency to begin correcting every little error I could find, but now I've learned to ask a lot of questions about the paper before any proofreading begins. The students seem to react to this in a more positive manner as it lets them know that we're actually working together to honestly improve their writing ability.

If a student is having some difficulty thinking about how to reword an awkward sentence, I try to get him or her thinking by asking more questions. Most of the questions revolve around getting the tutee to be creative in the way he or she expresses themselves while encouraging him or her to err on the side of conformity. And by conformity, I mean the student needs to say things that are understandable and easy to read.


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