I know I did a terrible job at keeping up with this with the rest of my crazy life, but I do enjoy the idea of it. Writing on here is so much easier for me to express myself. I am a righter. I am an introvert. Talking and discussing in class, well I try to do that stuff so I am participating and professors realize I actually do have a clue what is going on, but I can’t express myself as easily. I think that I do tone and voice easily through things like this.I just write like I think. So it has my voice. Probably not very academic, relatively positive. If I knew everyone on here I probably still wouldn’t talk any differently.
I don’t really like the genre of the blogging about academic things so it was a challenge. I need to keep refocusing and not ramble. But blogging is simple. It is a cross between rambling and expressing something. My challenge was to do this and remember to do this. I wasn’t reminded often so it was difficult. Try again later. I think it is a good thing to keep using though. So keep trucking on the blogging!
Culture and language were my biggest concerns with tutoring when I realized that I would get peers from around the world. Honestly I was fearful, how can I possibly tutor them? I know nothing about where they come from and what if I do not understand them? What if I can’t explain things to them? What if I panic and just mess them up more?
Well as I thought about this it occurred to me this was probably an even more stressful scenario for them. They want help and what if they do not ask for it or convey it how they want to and they cannot get the help they need to get grades they want. I realized quickly that I needed to work through my fears and just be as prepared as I could.
My first peer I worked with was from China. I adjusted quickly to her accent and realized if I engaged her and asked questions she actually shared a lot about her culture. I would ask her how to properly pronounce a Chinese name in her essay and she would ask me how to properly pronounce an English word. We built a connection and it made us comfortable with each other. I listened to her describe her life and what she wanted to portray on her paper. As the video I watched, Writing Across Borders, stated I realized the articles being correct in her paper was one of the last steps to worry about. Was I seeing in the paper the story I had heard from her lips. I realized at this point exactly what I see in this photo….
This is where our future needs to be moving and in the end embracing the differences instead of trying to get rid of them will make better tutors and better teachers. Going back to the video from class, different cultures write different ways. Embrace it, we may actually learn something as we try to tutor.
One of my other peers I worked with that broke into the culture and language barrier is Spanish. She speaks English pretty well and I have worked with her twice now. She has a desire to learn and I love helping her. I think that our relationship isn’t shaped as I may have once assumed it would be. “I am the native English-speaking Professional writer the power lies in my hands.” She has just as much to say and can probably say it just as well if not better. English is not her first language, but in a Spanish culture I would be struggling. We understand each other and learn about one another and I feel like so much more gets accomplished in their writing abilities and I learn a lot along the way too.
A strategy that I find helpful is the ability to make a spider web chart after your paper is possibly complete. This strategy helps you to make sure you remained on prompt and focused during the session; it is kind of like reverse outlining which I just learned about this past week.
What you would do is put your prompt in the center. Next find you topic sentences and put them in circles branching off the original circle. Make sure all of the topic sentences relate to the center circle topic; if they do not work on how you can make them relate.
After you do that we are going to move paragraph my paragraph. Dissect each sentence in a paragraph and see if it goes back to the topic sentence in the circle if so pick the key word in that sentence and attach it off of the topic sentence circle to make the web larger. If a sentence does not belong see if it can be relocated or rewritten, if not then its time to remove. Look at your complete web does everything now lead back to the center.
Here is an example:
Tutor: So what are we working on today?
Student: My article review essay, I’m not sure that it’s on topic.
Tutor: Have you ever used a spider web chart to brainstorm ideas?
Student: Yea, we used them a lot in 10th grade English.
Tutor: Okay, well we are going to use that tool, but in the reverse way. Do you have your prompt?
Student: Yea, here. (pulls it out)
Tutor: Okay now that goes in the center of the blank piece of paper with a circle around it.
Student: (places prompt in center) Now what?
Tutor: Okay each of these 3 paragraphs should have a topic sentence and supporting evidence. Let’s start with paragraph one. What is the topic sentence?
Student: (points to topic sentence)
Tutor: That’s the next piece of your web, put that in a circle and attach it to the first circle. Now can we talk sentence by sentence why they pertain.
Next they dissect the sentences and add them to the web. And basically it looks like a web chart we did at grade school . It is helpful to look back at the pieces slowly to understand how you are doing with staying on prompt.
Here is an example:
Hope this is helpful!
A university community should value the work of a writing center and/or writing tutors because they are providing skills which will always be important in life. In school writing is needed to convey your message to your teachers; it is a vital part of getting those good grades. Writing is not just valuable in school it takes a front seat in jobs and day to day communication. It is a part of more than just a GPA it is the difference between getting a job or not.
I know that at Penn State Berks our teachers often advertise the writing center and there are fliers places. I also know that we just opened a new writing center and it is beautiful, but do people realize that it is there? I was searching around the internet and I found some universities who made videos about writing and its importance in life. They were kind of lame and boring. Take a look for yourself.
If you could create a short quick video that was not cheesy I feel like it would be a great advertisement to stream around campus screens.
I also feel like if you made a coffee shop atmosphere and made it a writing nook and tutors could meet you in there too maybe without appointments it would make students more comfortable. If we just put writing in our normal atmospheres instead of putting people in awkward authoritative-feeling circumstances there may be more students willing to learn.
My name is Brittanie. I am in my last semester at Penn State Berks and will be graduating in December! I am a Professional Writing major; I was at one point an Education major and I love that the opportunity to participate as a writing tutor combines those two things!
I am excited to help others gain confidence in their writing and to give them some tools I find useful to do so. I am hoping this blog turns out to be conversational and I can’t wait to learn from all your experiences on top of my own!