Posts tagged writing
Posts tagged writing
With all of the words we say we’ve stopped using some particularly wonderful ones
What is punctuation’s job? #Cool
Seriously. How many times must we go over this?!
- Their rough history with boarding schools and family fights and frequent moves.
- Their love for sports.
- Their lack of credits and concerns about graduating on time.
- A story they made up about you and your dog name Fluffy (We lived alone in a secluded cabin and I was a writer, and then some guy came and stole my dog).
- Their sadness about the friends they lost last year.
- Their nervousness about starting their senior year and living up to expectations.
- Their parents’ divorce.
- Their parents’ negative views of them and how they’re determined to exceed their low expectations.
- Their summer writing reports at the police department.
And that’s just one period. Huge thanks to fortuneandglory for posting somewhere at some point over the summer that he has his students write like this on the first day of school, with no topic, every year. I stole the idea from him, and I’m so glad I did. :)
My good friend #hithertokat asked me about my experience as a high school writing center tutor.
How students were selected and trained
How it was run
How it was utilized within the school
And I thought it would be important to add:
How the student-tutors were evaluated
Student-tutors were recruited through a couple of ways. The official requirement/prerequisite was to have completed two one-semester courses entitled Advanced Composition A and B, a junior level writing course sequence. However, I was recruited (and many of my cohort) because we completed AP English Literature as juniors and had no where challenging to go in the curriculum. The AP English teacher also mentored the writing tutors and had us all apply.
We were trained the first six weeks or so of the semester, during which time the centers were closed. Since we were all seniors, our first assignment was to write and edit a college essay. We started with a first draft contributed by a previous tutor. We learned about making sure we understood the point of a piece. Or the thesis, in a persuasive essay. We learned about using specific, telling details as opposed to generalizations. Or evidence. We learned about structure, which was of course more than the five paragraph essay. And finally we learned about originality — no cliches, no plagiarism, etc. This was drummed into our heads as the acronym PESO.
Then we learned about the criticism sandwich. Compliment (as opposed to praise), criticize constructively/offer coaching, compliment. We learned that that makes it easier to hear and accept criticism.
(Grammar was to be the least of our worries as tutors. There was too much content-wise to worry about. To this day, I am not good at grammar editing, but damn if I can edit for content.)
Finally, we learned about True Colors. This is a personality test, based on similar things to Myer-Briggs, that helped us understand ourselves, each other (helping the group dynamic), and our student-clients in the short 15 minute time we have with them (to help us connect with them).
There were also team building exercises, etc. We practiced conferencing with each other, we had conferences with our mentor teachers, we observed each other and just learned.
The writing center was open during lunch four days a week. The fifth day was used as an in-service for the tutors to get more training and work on their own projects. Students could either make an appointment or walk in. Sometimes teachers required their classes to bring their papers to the writing center, or offered extra credit for showing that you wrote a draft and revised it based on the tutoring session. (When there was a class with a requirement, you needed to make an appointment.)
We did everything from freshman personal narratives to five paragraph essays to research papers, literary analysis and college application essays.
It was an expensive class to run, as it took two teachers to supervise a very small group of students (between five and ten). Since it was held during lunch, both teachers needed to take their lunch for union purposes, though they often spent it with us. It got a lot of resistance from the budget makers, but they got resistance right back from parents and students.
The tutors were evaluated thusly on a one semester course:
*We had a creative log book that we had to write in several times weekly.
*We had to read articles in the professional writing center journal and evaluate how they helped our practice as tutors in or log books.
*We had to reflect on our tutoring, particularly difficult conferences, and think about how to improve and our control the situation better the next time. *We had to write an I-search research paper, each leg of which would be conferenced three times.
*We had to have two polished pieces (also at least three peer conferences), ready to be published and attempted to be so — our college essays were the first one, but I also wrote a poem that I read at a poetry slam, submitted something to a literary journal, and the like.
*We had to have a certain number of conferences, and our conference notes and evaluations were reviewed. We were also observed discretely by the mentor teachers from time to time.
This is work I loved doing, and still enjoy. I’d be happy to answer clarifying questions, and expound if necessary. I am pretty sure I have a number of the forms at home, but I am far away from home until mid August. I certainly still have my log!
This sounds really cool. I’d love to start/sponsor a writing center wherever I end up teaching.
Rules to Write Good
Rules to Write Good
“Why, for example, do the great writers use anticipation instead of surprise? Because surprise is merely an instrument of the unusual, whereas anticipation of a consequence enlarges our understanding of what is happening. Look at a point of land over which the sun is certain to rise, Coleridge said. If the moon rises there, so what? The senses are startled, that’s all. But if we know the point where the sun will rise as it has always risen and as it will rise tomorrow and the next day too, well, well! At the beginning of “Hamlet” there can be no doubt that by the play’s end, the prince will buy it. Between start and finish, then, we may concentrate on what he says and who he is, matters made more intense by our knowing he is doomed. In every piece of work, at one juncture or another, a writer has the choice of doing something weird or something true. The lesser writer will haul up the moon.” -Roger Rosenblatt, How to Write Great
There seems to be a feeling among readers these days that if they see an event coming, the book is less than it might’ve been. I couldn’t disagree more.
I stand with Rosenblatt in celebrating anticipation over surprise. Even when reading mystery novels, the pleasure for me is never in the feeling of, oh I didn’t see THAT coming. The pleasure is living with another’s dread and pain and yearning and hope. All of that is a hell of a lot more fulfilling than being surprised by the killer’s identity.
This is the whole reason foreshadowing exists. Foreshadowing, at its best, is not a trick demonstrated to brag about what a fancy writer you can be. It’s about building anticipation, so that the reader can more fully empathize with the characters in the story: I want s/he to battle and hope against the inevitable while reading just as we all do while living. When it works, anticipation is far more fulfilling than surprise, because we are reminded that a sunrise is precisely as magnificent as it is inevitable.
Perfect for: Students for children and adults with writing difficulties
I used this with my ESE student last year and the handwriting significantly improved. It is sold in different colors and sizes to accomodate everyone who needs it.
Often, spell checks/ auto corrects get it wrong!
This should give you pause…
I can’t resist a little grammar humor; it’s the teacher (nerd) in me.
This is from a poster available for purchase from The Oatmeal.