I have been a classroom teacher, school administrator, and a tutor/educational therapist for over thirty years. During this time, I have not only taught students in this age range (primarily on a one-to-one basis), but in my capacity as a school director, I have trained my faculties in tactics and strategies for teaching these grades more effectively.
(THESE TECHNIQUES ARE APPLICABLE TO ALL FORMS OF WRITING)
1. Keys to analysis - Novels
Discovering meaning by pre-reading
Turning titles into questions
Understanding main ideas Drawing inferences
Using repeated words/ideas as keys to main idea
Using meter as clue to meaning
Identifying poet's techniques
Understanding the poet's "tool box"
alliteration, irony, genre, metaphor, personification
How to brainstorm effectively
Finding a unique perspective on the literature
Constructing a solid thesis statement.
Writing opening sentences that "grab" the reader
Using thesis to govern paragraph structure
Building unity with effective topic sentences
Using strong transitions
Strengthening diction, word choice
Solidifying grammar skills to clarify sentence
Creating conclusions that do more than simply
re-state the thesis.
The first step of the process is teaching students how to discover what the test questions are asking them to do.
The SAT reading test is constructed to determine whether students are able to use the six fundamental skills of reading: Discovering the main idea, isolating important facts, being able to draw an inference, defining a word from its context, understanding an author's intent, and grasping the author's tone.
Here's the good news: EVERY QUESTION ON THIS TEST is asking students to use one of these six skills. So step one involves teaching the word clues in each question stem that identify the skill for which it's looking. Why is this important? Answering an "inference" question as though it were a "fact" question will generally result in a wrong answer.
Step two involves teaching students the three main places where they can find a passage's main idea.
Step three consists of learning the "trigger words" that signal important transitions: Contrasts (but, however, although);
Cause-and effect-relationships (because, as a result of, consequently); Order of importance (biggest, best, most importantly). These words and phrases signal the places when ideas change within a passage. If we miss these changes, we can get lost, but more importantly, if we learn to spot them, we'll get more correct answers. An amazingly high proportion of answers are hiding in these exact places!
Clearly, there is much more involved: When to guess, when not to guess, and most importantly, effectively managing time when taking the test...but I'd like to leave something in case we wind up working together.
I hope that this description gives you some idea of how I work. I look forward to hearing from you.
I have been an educational therapist and tutor for over twenty years, working with students on: Time and materials management, test preparation tactics, textbook reading strategies, and improved memory tactics.
I work with 5th through 12th graders, as well as college/university students. In my educational therapy practice, I deal with general students, as well as those with specific learning needs (ADD/ADHD, various processing disorders, dyslexia, and mild autism).
COMMON AREAS OF WRITING WEAKNESS:
A. Language-Diction/Word Usage: 1. Acquiring effective diction, syntax, and writing style by modeling examples of professional writers: a. Examining how these writers write; having students analyze the grammatical structure of well-written sentences and writing their own sentence using the same structures. 1.)This exercise helps students gain a wider variety of language choices and impels them to ask as they write, “Will my meaning be understood by someone else? “ 2.) More importantly, it moves beyond the abstract terminology of grammar and brings it to life by having students those rules into action.
2. Learning how to find precise and appropriate words by expanding vocabulary a. Understanding connotation (multiple meanings) as well as denotation (literal meanings) of words b. Using Games and strategies to help build vocabulary skills c. Using prefixes and suffixes to convert words into different parts of speech d. Learning to distinguish between active and passive verbs (active verbs move sentences forward; passive verbs do not)
B. Understanding Writing Mechanics as Living Things: Grammatical terms are not things, they are actions create meaning.
1. Basic Parts of speech and what they do
2. Using parts of speech to create descriptive (modifying) clauses and phrases 3. Creating clarity by placing modifiers properly.
C. Creating Logic and Paragraph Unity: 1. Learning how to distinguish between main and supporting ideas (identifying independent and subordinate clauses/phrases) 2. Understanding difference in function between clauses and phrases
3. Understanding the actual jobs done by each kind of clause and phrase 4. Creating sentence variety by starting sentences with subordinate (dependent) clauses/phrases instead of independent clauses 5. Learning how to use subordinate clauses/phrases to create transitions within sentences to link ideas and provide clarifying information D. Over-All Writing Structure 1. Strengthening brainstorming and pre-writing skills a. Discovering alternate forms of outlining: 1.) webbing 2.) idea trees 3.) clustering 4.) mind mapping 5.) computer programs like Inspiration b. strengthening thesis statements in five basic steps: 1.) Making the thesis “arguable” by choosing strong, specific, and confident language. a.) the argument provides the fuel to move your essay forward. 2.) Limiting the thesis to a single sentence a.) This will make your argument concise and keep it on target 3.) Ensuring that the thesis is neither self-evident nor a statement of fact a.) otherwise there’s nothing to argue and no place to go 4.) Making sure that the grammatical subject of the thesis will be the topic explored in the essay; the main verb must also be the action. a.) This will always keep your argument on target 5.) Preferring active verbs to passive ones; avoiding all “to be” verbs a.) Because they are passive, they can't provide your thesis with the action it needs to propel your essay
2. Strengthening conclusions by using new ideas or perspectives on your thesis argument rather than simply repeating the original one.