Showing posts from November, 2013

How does that make you feel?

I recently attended the National Conference on Peer Tutoring in Writing, NCPTW.   Members of my Writing Center Studies class were presenting on high school and university writing center collaborations. When it came our time to present on Saturday morning, I was nervous because I did not know what to expect.   I had never attended a conference, nor had I presented in front of professionals.   Thankfully, our presentation went well.   Because we presented at 7:45am, I had the rest of the day to attend presentations.   I attended five sessions, but there was one in particular that stood out to me, Negative Emotion in the Writing Center: Writer Perception and Tutor perception.   This session focused on the emotional concerns students have with coming to the writing center, during their scheduled appointments, and when leaving the writing center.   It also focused on achievement emotion and how that related to the actual activity: writing the paper.   The presenters stated that “Achieve

Comedy in the field of tutoring part 2

There are a few weeks left of school and Alex gave me the idea to put a post about humor in tutoring writing students. This is mainly a mixture of thoughts that caused me to chuckle, smile, or consider how helpful it can be to laugh in our field. Comedy can be an incredible tool when working with students of all types (except stuck up). I use small jokes all the time in my work and there are so many hidden benefits to it.  (I did not fully reread this so I hope it is understandable.) For this section I thought it would be humorous to explain my observations while tutoring. This isn't intended to help but I hope they give a smile to experienced tutors. This is not meant to offend but merely joke around. If I do offend you I apologize. I love my position as a tutor, I've learned so many things in this field, but I think if I'm to use humor in my line of work, I should be able to laugh at myself as well.  1) If I have to endure 1,000 words.. Have you ever been

Comedy in the field of Tutoring part 1

             There are a few weeks left of school and Alex gave me the idea to put a post about humor in tutoring writing students. This is mainly a mixture of thoughts that caused me to chuckle, smile, or consider how helpful it can be to laugh in our field. Comedy can be an incredible tool when working with students of all types (except stuck up). I use small jokes all the time in my work and there are so many hidden benefits to it. Have you ever had an instructor, teacher, or even parent that appear intimidating? Students that require help may feel humbled or below the tutor since they require their assistance. To many students it is embarrassing or incredibly difficult to ask for assistance from another, especially a stranger. A small joke with a smile can make a significant difference. It can help calm the student, reassure them that you're not a, "Judging know it all whose goal is to further their feeling of inferiority." Yes that may be a bit extreme, more re

Encouraging Collaboration in Group Projects

This week, my writing fellows class focused on their final group projects. They needed to choose an issue then work with their groups to research, write about, and present the issue to the class. This assignment is largely about time management and collaboration. For many first-semester students, this makes the project complex because multiple components need to be completed within a short window of time and as a collective effort. During class, the students got into their groups (there are 3 groups total) to work on their projects. Within each group, there was at least one leader. However, I noticed that in 2 of the 3 groups, the leader(s) seemed to take a little too much control and some of the others often didn’t get the chance to speak up or state their opinions. As an observer, I wanted to hear more from the ones that weren’t talking as much, so I tried to ask guiding questions that addressed the entire group but required individual responses. Even then, the leaders would

Group Work

Tomorrow I have to go into my Intermediate Writing class and face my group. Right now that class is causing me to lose hair but it's an interesting learning model that we're following: We've been meeting in groups for the whole semester now, centering all of our writing on one specific world issue. Over the past twelve weeks our group has become friends, worked long hours on Google docs having way too much fun with emoticons, adopted a new member into our group family, but now, we stress about our final project. Actually I only know that I stress, communication in our group has become limited. Through the combination of unpreparedness, the common cold (and the fear of proximity that comes with it), and the fear of providing criticism, our group has reached a lull in productivity. Today however, I read some readings that have been provided me by an Instructor. They spoke about the benefits of group work, and the elements necessary to create effective group work. I realized

ESL Students and Confidence

It's interesting that students are so willing to relinquish the hours of work they've put into a paper into the hands of someone they've never before met. I could give her poor advice; I could tell her to change a word or a paragraph and she would agree. I wonder how to instill more confidence into a writer while, at the same time, helping them improve their writing. Whenever I make suggestions to an ESL writer, their confidence seems, at times, to diminish. They see my corrections or confusion as a sign they are incompetent or stupid. In reality, they're just learning. I suppose helping them change their attitude about their progress, that even though they're struggling they're still doing fine, would be a good first step for them to see that struggle as part of the learning process and not a sign of failure. Unfortunately, this thought is just a thought and is not yet converted into a plan of action. I don't know how to instill confidence in someone if t

Solution to an Empty Schedule?

One of the biggest problems I have faced during my semester of being a Writing Fellow has been getting students to schedule appointments.   I work with a Basic Writing class, so the majority of the students I work with are freshmen.   I believe not being in college for a long while has something to do with the students’ lack of scheduling.   Because they are new to the school, freshmen often don’t understand how valuable the skills learned in our sessions can be.   I didn’t understand how important the peer review process was was until I took an advanced level course on Literary Criticism and Analysis.   It was also in this advanced level course that I had my first experience with a Writing Fellow.   I was also reluctant at first.   My schedule hardly had any openings as it was; I was also required to meet with someone for additional help.   However, when I actually sat down with her, I gained a great sense of confidence.   I might not have done well on some of my papers, but at leas

"Please, Don't Make Me Read It"

       I recently attended The National Conference on Peer Tutoring in Writing (NCPTW) at the Berkeley Preparatory School in Tampa Florida. The conference included a variety of sessions revolving around writing, peer tutoring, writing center work, and much more. I had the chance to attend Please, Don’t Make Me Read It, which created a new way of thinking for me in regards to language and writing with L2 students. While part of the session could be construed as problematizing English, the workshops highlighted the insecurities L2 students face when writing papers, which personally helped me and my outlook towards my ESL sessions.         As the workshop began, the presenters passed out a sheet of paper that included a paragraph written in English. We were told to translate the paragraph into Spanish using the list of words provided. When first given the paper I was confident three years of Spanish was about to pay off, but as I wrote the first sentence I became mortified. Not only

NCPTW: A Quick Reflection

I would like to briefly reflect on a session that I attended during   NCPTW, “What’s a Little Barbed Wire Between Peers?: The Challenges and Possibilities of Peer to Peer Tutoring with Incarcerated Students.” Two peer tutors and one program leader from Goucher College discussed the school’s prison education partnership with the Maryland Correctional Institution for Women and the Maryland Correctional Institution at Jessup.   The tutors talked about the need to immediately establish their roles as “peers” with the inmates. They talked about the successes and challenges that come with holding tutoring sessions in a prison, from experiences with students to equipment, institutional, and time limitations.   Although they discussed some of the parallels between their program and general writing centers, it must be stressed that these tutors work in an extreme environment. Their notions of authority, student relationships, and the rules they must abide by within the prison environment a

"I Don't Know"

Definitions we commonly use (derived from assignment sheets or tutoring culture) are words like "voice," "principles," "rhetoric," "analysis," "annotated bibliography," and so on. Even though I understand how to use them, it's difficult to teach someone else. I have read that an indicator of whether we understand a concept or not is how well we can explain it to someone else: I would argue, then, that if we can't explain a concept we don't fully understand it. There have been times when I've said, simply, "I don't know." when I'm asked about a concepts, and, that's okay. I think it's good to run into information we can't transfer because it shows us an area we haven't learned as well as we thought. The solution, I think, is to study. There are ways to do this quickly. Write Definitions: The practice of writing a concept in my own words, even if I don't keep what I've written,

Horses, Plagiarism, and the Acquisition of Knowledge.

Hey Guys. :) While I was working this afternoon in the Student Writing Center, I had a realization of gratitude. I was working with a student from Eastern Europe who we'll say is named Monika. Throughout the session as I felt like I had begun to know and understand Monika a little better, I noticed that she was very intelligent. She was quick to observe, quick to catch on, and could adeptly accept and apply new information in her own ways. Throughout our session, I found that Monika was educating me. I have had sufficient isolated exposure to American language, grammar, and rhetoric to be able to possess a degree of intuition with American writing but Monika knew what medium clauses and all that other funky grammar stuff was. Since we work with a lot of non-native speaking students at our writing center, I have found that grammar, and specifically, being able to identify patterns of error within grammar as well as having a sufficient understanding of grammar to be able to accur

Working with Student Athletes

This is my third semester as a Writing Fellow at Nova Southeastern University and I have worked with a handful of student athletes in my classes. I have dealt with both dedicated student athletes and, well, the student athletes who don’t bother coming to sessions or responding to my emails.  This semester, I have 3 student athletes in my writing fellows class. Two of them actually want to receive help and only mention their athletic responsibilities when a scheduling conflict occurs (one of the students’ teams requires travel time this semester) – and in these cases, they mention setting dates to reschedule immediately. These student athletes have attended every session on time and come prepared because they know we have limited time to work.  On the other hand, I also have a student athlete in the class named Kelly*. Kelly missed her first two sessions with me this semester. In class, she would apologize for missing the meetings and promise to reschedule but never