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 http://www.amazon.com/dp/0310214696. 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.