Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Tutoring in the Writing Center

This was a busy week in our college writing center. I'll describe one student who I met his morning, a young man who was assigned to write a book review about Dr, Ben Carson. The following link provides a nice biographical profile of Dr. Carson. The book he had read is Carson's inspiring autobiography, Gifted Hands Please do read some of the Amazon reviews which provide testimony on how inspiring Carson's story is and the many adversities he overcome.

My student had a good understanding of the narrative, but didn't seem to have any sense of what a book review required. We went over the two book review sheets the teacher provided. We spent most of our time discussing what was involved in writing a three paragraph summary and a five paragraph assessment of the significance of the book. We also touched on key elements in writing an introductory and concluding paragraph.

The student seemed somewhat passive as I began to explain what was involved in each section of the review. I attempted to draw him in with what seemed like minimal success. I walked away from where we were tutoring for a while so he could take notes from the whiteboard as I was unsure how much he was taking in or would remember.

At the end of our session he felt he had a basic understanding of what would be involved in writing a successful review and said he would have to go home and take the time to do the work. I suggested that the review could take between 6-8 hours to write and that he should start, especially in the summary section with simply outlining key points before writing. I encouraged him to come in with a draft early next week so we could review.

It looks like this effort will be continued. I felt i had to provide some heavy scaffolding.

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