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First-time Tutoring! 2 Students in English, Reading, and Writing

Hi WyzAnt readers,

I'd love to start blogging my tutoring experiences. This is to keep a record for myself, my students, and other teachers and people of interest. I am here on WyzAnt to get experience teaching students of all ages in as many subjects as possible. I love reading, writing, and literary subjects. I have been a student for 22 years, and after finishing my degree in Comparative Literature at Rutgers University, I am interested in giving back to the community. I have had minimal experience helping friends with editing their papers or talking them through situations, but tutoring one-on-one is new for me! I appreciate all feedback and critique so I can produce the best results for my students.

My first session with N was excellent! N is a special needs student-adult in need of help organizing thoughts from mind to paper. Isn't it easy to think or talk about something, but sometimes that same subject proves difficult once trying to really express it? All writers can relate to that, and some of us call it writer's block! My advise is to talk things out and have a discussion before trying to write anything down. This worked especially well with students of mental disability and trauma. Talking, if possible, helps, so we met at a local library and did just that! N is a great student and I am impressed by the amount of work we accomplished in one setting. We worked for 90 minutes, talking about environmental subjects and focusing on writing a paper on global warming. We reviewed assignments given by N's class teacher, and completed a paper-writing guideline together. For homework, I assigned organizing this guideline (and additional notes) into a basic argumentative paper. I would love to work with N again and really focus on skill-set with N and/or future students. The conversation and topic was relevant to my interests, making the experience even more rewarding than expected.

V, my second student, is in junior high with the mind-set of an AP student in high school! I love working with ambitious students. V is an excellent student doing great in school-- straight A's, actually! We are working together to get deeper into novels and literary skills. Have you ever read a book so quickly just to find out what happens at the end? Admittedly, we have all been there! This long-term course is designed to slow down a bit, to really appreciate the text. I am teaching basic literary theory and how certain conventions, themes, and styles shape a text. There is an emphasis on story-telling and enjoying the pleasures of reading and writing, while also diving into the mind-set of an academic.

In my first 60 minute session with V, I lectured on the background life of Alexandre Dumas (in lieu of reading The Counte of Monte Cristo), illustrating the parallels between Dumas and Dantes. This was particularly illuminating through studying the introduction by Luc Sante. Additionally, we looked at the importance of the author (and authorship in general) and time period to the novel at the time, discussing the use of literary conventions or themes and significance of historical context. I compared Dumas's inspirations like Byron and Walter Scott and their influence in travel writing, all the way back to the beginning of the newspaper. We touched upon the structure of series and the beginning of that type of story-telling for the consumer (via the newspaper), relating it to modern-day series like Twilight. The comparison to digital storytelling, like novel to film, will follow in this course.

I assigned V a 30-minute writing essay test to reflect upon himself, mimicking the mirror of Dumas's life to Dantes. The assignment was, "Who Would Your Fantasy Person or Alter-Ego Be?" This assignment helps with essay-building, writing and grammar skills, and writing in a time limit for AP testing, while focusing on character building. Taking time to ponder a 'character' in the literary or real world to relate to helps the student critically think, compare, and reflect in both his personal life and the story-world.

I corrected the assignment while he began re-reading the novel, giving suggestions to make the essay superior. V's homework was to re-write the essay and to begin chapter summary and analysis in his journal by re-reading the first 40 chapters. V's a fast reader, so re-reading will allow V to let the details really "sink in". The journal-keeping will also help bring details and further analysis and reading comprehension to the surface, while developing his skills in critical thinking and improving reading and writing overall.

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