I wasn’t sure what to expect from this blog. My only other experience contributing to a blog was in my Writing 20 class, and that was pretty much just a public brainstorming session. I knew everyone on the site from class, so posting there was about the same as talking in class. This blog was a lot more novel for me because I had the chance to get a glimpse into the minds of all these students from around the country that I have never met. Everyone had a slightly different way of looking at things, but we are all tutors working out how exactly to tutor. I really appreciate the interconnectedness that brought. I felt like I had a purpose writing these posts knowing that we were forming a relationship with other students comprised entirely of these little exchanges. It’s like a modern day pen-pal program!
I also loved having the blog as a way to cut loose a little bit after working on literature reviews and research papers. I’m usually a pretty conversational writer, so this felt a lot more comfortable for me. It’s nice speaking in “my own voice”, and it’s been neat hearing the voices of all the different sorts of writers that these programs attract. This blog felt less drily academic and more like a conversational collaboration because we were all sharing a bit of ourselves with each other.
I became very excited upon hearing that we had to blog for this class. I used to blog about professional wrestling before. Therefore, Tutor Musings was familiar ground for me. This was the chance for me to spew words onto a page! Though I definitely put some thought into my posts, I saw this as an opportunity to type without numerous constraints on any topic (of course, it has to somewhat abide by the prompt). Tutor Musings gave me the opportunity to write and share about my life, its accomplishments and its struggles. My voice could be heard. The my only regret was that I did not have the chance to blog more regularly. While I did blog when my group had to blog, I felt that we, as prospective UWTs, could have accomplished a lot of through weekly blogging.
Blogs are more communication rather than simply information. We try to promote dialogue rather than persuade that our opinions are right like in an academic essay. That is why I try to make a connection with the reader. Undergraduates can have the same great conversation here as in a classroom. This group learning experience would help us once we become writing tutors because it challenges us to interact with strangers. I am so glad to listen and to share my experiences with students from three great universities. It is my hope and desire that informal posts can be an integral part of the future UWT experiences.
Initially, I was anxious about posting to this blog. It probably took me just as long to write my short, three-sentence long introduction of myself as it did to write my last, much longer post about my research project. I just wasn’t used to this medium. I’ve written my own blogs before (when I was in 7th grade), and even did a project on one for Writing 20. However, those blogs were for audiences I knew, unlike this one. I tried to keep my voice friendly, but professional, which was no easy task. I made sure to reread my posts several times before posting. I sometimes waited a few hours, and then reread the post, before finally putting it online to gain fresh perspective. Over the course of the semester I’ve become more confident about my posts, due to the thoughtful and insightful comments my co-bloggers have made on my post. Even though I haven’t met the majority of you, I feel that a real sense of community exists here in Tutor Musings 2.
If I had been writing for a group of friends, I would have included more inside jokes or personal facts about myself. I would probably post about The Killers and the Cardinals a lot, because that was pretty much the extent of my 7th grade Xanga. The Killers continue to be my favorite band, but I’m glad that this semester introduced me to a new, more productive genre of blogging.
The whole concept of having a public audience versus a friendly, informal, familiar one of friends and classmates in the blogosphere wholly impacts how people speak. Tone and diction revolve around this dilemma. I know for a fact that I had a tendency to use cliches, broader examples, and speech that definitely wasn’t my true voice in preliminary blog posts for the sake of universal connection and understanding. If from the start this was a tutoring blog of just my peers and I, there would be jokes, quotes, memes, and much more in depth debate simply because we could talk literally talk out questions and disagreements. However, within a public arena, postings are made more professional, clever, and well-rounded. People in a public forum, especially in a collaborative one like this blog, don’t exactly banter back and forth from opposite sides of the fence. Rather, bloggers build on each other’s ideas and build more comfortable tones and diction as time passes.
As time went and and we all got to know each other , I think we all felt more comfortable expressing our true selves on the blog. I think that, even if you read the titles of posts or look at the multimodal components of them, you’ll find the the quirkiness and frankness increases with time.
In short, bloggers in the public arena go from F is for Friends who discuss politely in universal, watery language to F is for Friends who “do stuff together” (collaborate, be open, show true opinions and quirks).
I’ve decided to research active listening and pinpoint some cognitive and behavioral aspects of listening that can help tutors affectively collaborate with tutees. This project made me reevaluate my own listening practices, and it became sort of “meta” during my tutoring sessions. The tutors who listened to me reading my paper aloud subtlety changed their body language to reflect what I wrote in my paper.
First, I focused on the behavioral aspects of listening, including mental focus. I explained the weakness of the phrase “listen harder.” Through my research I discovered how complex the mental listening process is.
Second, I delved into effective listening body language, which includes: facing the speaker, nodding, rephrasing, and questioning. However, over emphasizing these practices can also seem condescending to a speaker. A tutor must be sensitive to the context of the session and notice how a speaker responds to listening body language.
I’m still not quite sure what to create for my final deliverable though. Originally, I intended crafting a handout that could be used by tutors and tutees. Professor Russell mentioned that I could use “Case Builder” software to create potential situations where tutors write how they would react. This software is much more dynamic and interesting than a handout. I would create a fictional tutoring scenario; focused on listening, and then a tutor chooses from options how they would respond to the situation. Then they could see the “suggested behavior” described in the scenario. This “quiz” I make could then be a tutor-training tool. Would this be a good way to train tutors? Or would another type of deliverable be more effective?
Remember being handed that little handbook from hell in high school? Shining, white, and awful: Strunk and White, The Elements of Style. I can still see it smirking at me from classroom shelves. I remember wondering who gave those two the right to place rules on the English language, especially when all their restrictions seemed so outdated and against my intuition as a writer. Why should I care?
I decided to actually research these inquiries and found that The Elements was outdated in its failure to accommodate language’s changing nature. There is no evolution of the rules with modern usage. I further discovered the rules to be overly subjective. Both Strunk and White broke the rules of Style in their outer writings and even in the guidebook itself, frequently. If they don’t follow their own mandates why should we?
I went on through my research to discover that Strunk and White were still commendable in trying to bring any direction to the grammatical realm of English. Instead of completely debunking their work as I originally though my research would do, I found that a mere addition/revision to The Elements could fix the hypocrisy and limitations of the original rules. You see, the rules told writers WHETHER OR NOT to do something, and not WHY. By adding multiple grammatical variations and the literary effects of choosing each, the limiting aspect of S&W’s work was stymied and the hypocrisy crushed with the advent of personal choice.
One of the strategies for revising sentence-level errors that we have talked about in class is the “Rule of 3.” The strategy can be applied to any sentence-level error that occurs repeatedly in a paper, regardless of what that error might be. A couple of scenarios in which it would apply include when the student struggles with passive voice, nomializations, comma usage, or wordiness, but the technique is by no means limited to these example.
The strategy can be summarized in three steps.
- The first time the error occurs: Explicitly explain to the student that the error occurs, show them where exactly it happens in the text, and correct it for them.
- The second time the error occurs: Point out a specific place where the error occurs, but then let the tutee try to fix the error on his or her own.
- The third time the error occurs: Point out a general area of the paper where the error occurs and have the student identify places where they make the error. Tell them to focus on this section of the paper as part of their revision.
Let’s say in a tutoring session, after first addressing all of the tutee’s concerns, you notice that the tutee repeatedly nominalizes throughout the text.
Tutor: I’ve noticed that throughout your writing you have a tendency to nominalize, which means that instead of using a strong verb, you turn that strong verb into a noun and instead use it along with a weak verb. This happened several times in the third pargraph of your paper, so why don’t we take a look at that? In this sentence, you wrote “I often have to make changes to my thesis during the revision process.” Here, you use “changes” as a now along with the weak verb “make.” You could correct this nominalization by saying something like “I often have to change my thesis during the revision process” or “I often have to revise my thesis after my initial draft.”
Student: Oh yeah, that totally makes sense. I get how “revise” and “change” are much more active verbs than “make.”
Then, if you notice the error again:
Tutor: So this is another area of the paper where you’ve nominalized. Specifically, there is a nominalization in the first sentence of this paragraph. This time, though, I want you to try to correct it yourself.
Student: So instead of saying “I made the decision to delete an entire paragraph,” I should say, “I decided to delete an entire paragraph.”
Tutor: Yeah that sounds great! You see how “decided” is much more powerful than “made?”
Student: Yeah, for sure.
The third time the error is noticed:
Tutor: Again here I’ve noticed some nominalizations. I’m not going to point these out this time, but see if you can pick some of them out on your own. Then during your revision after this session, you can go back and correct them.