Monday, September 09, 2013

Monday's First Session

As with Matthew, my first tutoring session at the Writing Center was with an ESL student. My own experiences, along with the instruction and advice we have received, left me prepared for the experience. I felt confident and happy to help this student.

Our discussions of High Order Concerns (HOCs) such as structure, organization, flow, thesis, and discussion of Low Order Concerns (LOCs) helped me understand the student’s concerns and prioritize the topics of our discussion.

The student helped the session by being prepared with the complete unit package that the class was using for vocabulary, grammar, comprehension, and included the writing prompt. The student was also engaged and invested in her own learning.

The first thing I had her do was to read the paper out loud. She caught and self-corrected four errors: one spelling; two commas; one verb. She seemed embarrassed, but I told her that I always read my own papers out loud to “hear” where the errors are.

The student's primary worry was that the paper "[Said] what I want it to say.” So we talked about a thesis statement, and about sentences and statements that support the thesis. Her paper had a clear thesis and supporting ideas. Since she executed the thesis/support structure, we reviewed and reiterated those concepts. I think she wasn’t quite certain she was on the right path, and wanted the additional input and one-on-one discussion of those concepts.

Her second concern was that the individual sentences were “not so good.” One error pattern was incorrect use of “the”. We talked about using articles, in particular “the” with count and non-count nouns, and she self-corrected some of the incorrect usage. This made her feel that her sentences were better formed.

The other “big topic” of concern for this student was how to get ideas for an essay. We talked a little bit about brainstorming, and pre-writing. I told her that she could come into the Writing Center even at those early stages for support.

I made certain to check for understanding. In addition to observing her body language, I explicitly asked, “Does this make sense?” I also asked her if she could find examples, herself, of the good things she did, such as pointing out the sentences that supported the thesis statement.

At the end of the session, I made certain she knew where she could print her paper. I also asked if she had learned anything new. She laughed and said that reading the paper out loud was a new idea that helped her. I invited her come back to the Writing Center again.

I need to work on not overwhelming the student with too much information. When I sensed that I was giving too much information, too fast, I pulled back, slowed down the session, and asked the student for her input.

Overall, I felt the session went well. The student seemed happy and not so nervous about her writing when she left. 


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