A blog for tutors to share their ideas, experiences, and insights.

Author Archives: iac5017

The thought of sharing my ideas with a public audience outside of my teacher and classmates was a bit intimidating at first. I have used blogging for a class before, but it was mainly read by other students in the class (most of which I had known outside of school) so I felt more comfortable writing in my true tone and voice. However, for this new audience that I didn’t know, I definitely was more cautious at the start. While writing my first post, I was thinking about how others would perceive me based on my writing, and that kind of shaped how my first blog post was written. As time went on and I read other students’ blog posts, I became increasingly comfortable writing in my own style.
This in turn, finally allowed me to sit back and enjoy reading the other posts and pick up on how other students, who are in the same situation as I am, handled similar problems/experiences that I have also dealt with. I really enjoyed being able to see how others took the information we learned and apply it in real situations. It created a strong connection between what we were learning in class and why we were learning those things. Which, I can’t say happens too often (coughcalculuscough).

I genuinely enjoyed blogging throughout this semester and I hope the opportunity will arise for me to collaborate academically with another audience again! Until then, I’ll just have to blog on my own. 🙂


A student walks into the writing center for an appointment. They hand you a paper that seems to be nearly flawless. Where do you go from there? I’ve had this experience before. At first, I wasn’t quite sure how to help them, but then I remembered a strategy that I had recently learned. It’s called Revision RADaR. It’s a strategy used to revise writing for effectiveness. Let’s face it, no matter how good a paper seems at first, there can be little teeny tiny things that can probably be improved. RADaR helps guide you to isolate sentences and find these teeny tiny things and examine if they are effective in the terms of your prompt. What’s with the name you ask? Well, RADaR consists of four steps;

  • Replace
    • Words that are not specific, overused, and sentences that are unclear
  • Add
    • New information if necessary
    • Descriptive adjectives adverbs
    • Rhetorical or Literary devices
  • Delete
    • Unrelated ideas
    • Words that explain the obvious, provide excessive detail, are repetitive, and redundant
    • Unnecessary determiners or modifiers
    • Unnecessary details
  • Reorder
    • To make better sense
    • To flow better
    • So details support main ideas

Each of these steps can be taken separately and applied at the sentence level. So let’s say a student walks in and hands you a draft that looks pretty solid, here is a way that you could possibly go about introducing them to this strategy.

Tutor: This seems like a pretty solid draft, but let’s take a closer look at some of your sentences and see if they can be improved in any way.

Tutee: Ok, how are we going to do that?

Tutor: We can use this strategy I know called Revision RADaR. Here’s a little chart that we can use to guide us in what to look for when making sure a sentence is as effective as it can be.

(Hand the tutee a print out of the chart below for both of you to look at and check off topics covered as you go)

Tutee: Ok, cool. Can we start with my topic sentence?

And the conversation would continue with the tutor and tutee picking out sentences and using the RADaR chart to analyze them.

This is an extremely effective strategy when trying to improve a draft that seems to be solid, lengthy, or not concise. Also, it’s a great strategy because I feel like everyone does these types of revisions, but sometimes you can forget to check for certain things just because you don’t have an organized way of revising. The Revision RADaR chart organizes it all for you! Another bonus is that the student can take the handout with them and use it when looking over other drafts that they have written.




Being bilingual has always allowed me to understand how non-native speakers may feel when being introduced to the English language. I was born in Bucharest, Romania, but moved here with my family when I was only 9 months old. This gave me quite a different experience than most people. I grew up learning to speak English and Romanian simultaneously. However, I learned to write and read in English before I learned in the Romanian language. Due to that, when it did come time for me to learn how to read and write in Romanian it posed a challege. I constantly ran into road blocks because of how sentences are formed. For example, in English you would say “the black house”, but in most romantic languages it would be phrased “the house black”. Also, sometimes I would run into the problem of saying something in Romanian and when translating it to English, it kind of lost its meaning. This was a common occurence when trying to translate jokes. They just ended up not being funny. Eventhough I was only about 9 years old, I could remember myself being frustrated as to how the two languages could be saying the same things, but not really having the exact same meaning.

I observed others have the same frustration in highschool when I began taking Spanish. Some students would just give up because they could not understand why words had so many different endings, and why they had to be in a different order than in English. It would overwhelm them to the point that they just decided to not deal with it. For me, it didnt pose too much of a problem this time because of my knowledge of the Romanian language. In fact, I used my experience to stay after school on some days and help others better learn the language. We would practice different exercises and come up with mnemonic devices to get them to learn the word endings.Image

These experiences will definitely help me in a tutoring session with non-native speakers. I will truly be able to understand their frustrations and will be able to share some strategies that I have found to be helpful. I can build a connection that some tutors who are not bilingual may not be able to establish. This could lead to the student feeling more relaxed during the session, whichin turn makes it more productive. When the session is productive, the student is more likely to be able to take the information learned and apply it to other pieces of writing, which is one of a tutor’s main goals!

All through high school, I was very confident in my writing. So, when I began my first year of school at Albright College and we were able to pick what subject our First Year Seminar related to, I picked writing. It was a no-brainer. I was good at it, and I really enjoyed it. I thought the class was going to be cake. The class started out great; the professor seemed knowledgeable and made the material interesting. When our first assignment was due, I was confident in what I wrote.

I will never forget the day that I got my paper back with my grade. It was turned over so I would not immediately see what I got. I could however, see all of the red ink seeping through the back of the paper. I felt my heart drop to my stomach. I tried not to panic at first. I reassured myself that maybe it was just some constructive criticism, or maybe even compliments (ha!). I turned the first page over. Sentences were crossed out with a ton of red marks. There were arrows from words and sentences leading to the side of the paper where discouraging remarks filled up the margins. My heart sank even further as I kept reading. Was it really that bad? I turned the last page over to a see a huge red C- circled at the top of my paper with a little note scribbled underneath. “See me after class”.

She recommended I come by her office and go over my paper with her. She wanted to help me fix it. Our little tutoring session did not go well. The meeting was in her office and she instructed me to sit across from her. As I did, she took my paper and began crossing out even more things on my paper. She took out a separate piece of paper and began rewriting some of my sentences. When she finished, she said “There, now just add those in and fix up what I marked and you should get a better grade.” She had taken complete control. The paper was no longer mine. I felt upset, angry, and powerless. If I wanted a good grade, I had to do what she said. So I did.

As you’ve probably noticed, none of the ideas that Muriel Harris suggested were implemented in our tutoring session. My professor did not “sit next to the student, talk, model, or offer suggestions.”(Harris, 33) She just sat there quietly as she tore my work to pieces, and re-modeled it into her own. As I tutor, I will always keep this experience in mind. I never want to make a student feel the way I did that day. Instead of tearing their writing down because it may not align with how I write, I want to help them build confidence in their own writing, and guide them to make their own decisions about how to change their work .


My name is Ioana and I’m a junior at Penn State Berks studying Life Science. Once I graduate, I hope to go to Dental school to study Dental and Orthodontic Medicine! My goal is to instill confidence in smiles wherever I can!

I’m looking forward to this class and eventually tutoring and sharing my knowledge of writing with other students. I’m confident that this blog will help us all communicate our thoughts, concerns, and experiences, and I can’t wait to read them all!