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

Author Archives: jis5493

I found our virtual classroom blog insightful. I enjoyed both discussing the appropriate role of a tutor with everyone and also sharing my idea of what tutoring is.  Blogging is becoming something that everyone does in one way or another.  With the increased popularity of Facebook and Twitter no person after our generation will ever not know what a blog is.  I can also say that my parents never used a blog and I would be surprised if they knew what one was.  I think that for most students, as tutors, we are all comfortable speaking our mind and sharing our thoughts and ideas on paper.  So speaking honestly and frankly on this blog was not a challenge for me.  blogging

One of the best parts of this experience for me was reading some of the posts from students on other campuses.  I think that the idea of combining different communities of students are what makes blogs like this successful.  I have read several articles that were very interesting and insightful.  I also read a few blogs that I did not agree with.  Either way I always walked away from the exchange feeling that I had learned something new.

I also wanted to include this picture in my post.  I was searching the internet the other day and I came across this picture on someones blog.  I thought that this was a perfect wordle to explain our experiences blogging.

It was great sharing with everyone and I wish you all luck on your future endeavors.


Sometimes our environment can make us feel like this.

Culture can be a difficult thing to account for.  While most of us take our culture and standards as the norm, it is important to realize that not everyones culture is the same.  During a class video we watched on Wednesday we witnessed one student from an African country explain that she did not feel that she could objectively write a paper because in her country she was not allowed to criticize government at all.  My own family has a similar experience because my mother is orginally from Cuba.  My own mother and aunt remind me to never take my freedom to speak my mind for granted.  This idea of culture can sneak into our writing in many different ways.  As a tutor it is our job to recognize culture and help the student to understand that things can be handled differently.  There are several examples of possible conflicts.  Some students writing may not be politically correct, as in having a mesogynistic message or tone.  Some students may have an issue with expressing their opinion because culturally they try to never speak out against people in positions of power, like a boss or professor.  As a tutor it is important to not only be contious of grammer and format, but also of tone and message.  Remember that our job is not to make them conform to “The Way we Do Things”, instead our goal should be to explain to them that they have other options.  The wonderful thing about English is the variation.   Two people can take a great piece of work, rewrite and reorder it, and that can produce two outstanding pieces.  There is no magic bullet, or one particular way to do things.  Lastly I think it is important to discuss different standards of organization between cultures.  American writing tends to focus on organization and delivery.  Is your message organized and is it written effectively to engage the reader?  Some Asian cultures put very little emphasis into organization and clarity.  They feel that there job is to write and the readers job is to understand.  By putting all this onous on the reader they are freeing themselves of having to make stylistic choices about clarity.  Again while we should feel free to insert our opinion and try to explain to the student why changes might be nessecary, ultimately it is up to the student to adopt these changes or ignore the problem.  If the student is leaning towards not listening, he will most likely be given his greatest reason to change when he recieves the first bad grade back from his teacher.   As tutors we should try our very best to free students from the prison of one way writing and try to inform them of all the possible avenues their piece can take.

Generally most of the students I have tutored so far have had problems finding the initial idea to inspire their piece of writing. This is by far one of the most common complaints for beginning and novice writers. “What do I write about?” Every person has different processes that inspire creativity. While this solution might not be for everyone, I always have trouble coming with ideas on the spot to initiate my writing. My unique process for solving this problem involves three simple steps.

Student- Hello I’m here for tutoring

Tutor- Hi what can I help you with today

Student- I am having trouble writing my essay for English. We read an essay and the professor gave us three writing prompts and I have no idea where to start. I just keep drawing blanks.

Tutor- Have you tried using diagrams?

Student- Yes, they doesn’t seem to work for me.

Tutor- Yea that doesn’t work for me either. I have trouble being creative in a stationary environment. Would you like to try something different that might help you?

Student- Definitely.

Tutor- Well first thing you need at least a week or two before your assignment is due. Is your assignment due soon?

Student- Nope I have a few weeks.

Tutor- Ok, great. Well first thing is to review your assignment sheet. Reread the questions a few times and try to think about it for a while. If nothing comes to you right away put it down and go do something else. Take a walk, go play sports, do something. Keep the paper and a pen with you. Try to think about the assignment at least a few times a day.

Student- Sounds easy but then what?

Tutor- Well the idea is that eventually something will inspire you. Once you have the idea write down everything you think about. This might take you 5 mins to write everything down or you might be writing for 2 hours. Hopefully when you are done with this step you will have a good portion of your essay. Then you go home, take your inspiration and finish writing your essay.

Student- That sounds really easy. Does it work?

Tutor- Well I know I write better when I have a clear goal and typically students write better when they are inspired by something. This is just a way to find something to write about where you have a clear idea and two that you have genuine feeling about the topic.

Going to a university is much more than just who has the fanciest buildings and the best professors.  Students choose a university for the overall experience.  A strong peer tutoring program is just one more extra that students look for in a diversified college experience.  Peer tutoring allows for the open exchange of ideas and more importantly it opens up a dialogue about a students work in an individualized setting which helps the student progress in their writing outside of the classroom.

Penn State University works very hard to create an environment where students are encouraged to go to the writing center for additional support.  Most teachers in classes that vary from English 001 to Chemistry encourage their students to visit the writing center when they assign any writing assignments.  Having teachers constantly refer to the writing center allows for us always to be visible to the student body.  Also  PSU has used other successful methods to promote the writing center.  Just this year they have moved the writing center to a location that is more visible on campus and obviously the more people that pass by the more likely we are to have people stop in.  The second is that across campus they have signs posted like the one in my post, reminding people to stop into the writing center and giving them the number to make an appointment.


Hey everyone my name is Jon and I am a student at Penn State University. Tutoring is an important part of the college experience. It allows students an opportunity to bounce ideas off of each other and receive important feedback from their peers before work is submitted for a final grade. I believe this kind of discourse is integral to allow students to accept feedback and then correct their course of action.  I am excited to begin working with students and hopefully I can learn as much from them as they can for me.