I attended the workshop on November 9th where tutors Alex, Juan, and Kristen presented. Alex focused his presentation on the group of the elementary school students that he worked with once a week in improving their vocabulary. He demonstrated the importance of semantics through the activities that he conducted in his tutoring sessions. Examining relationships of words with one another was how he was able to successfully aid in enlarging the students’ vocabulary. He spoke about how his students were able to derive the meaning of a word they had never come across before by paying particular attention to the different parts of the word and connecting the meanings of the individual parts together. For example, he taught them suffixes and prefixes, which served as a beginning point for deconstructing a particular word; he would then would ask them what associations they could make and then to connect the parts of the word together. The end result would be an additional word to add to the students’ vocabulary and students excited about figuring out a word that they did not know its meaning just mere minutes before. For tutoring college-level students, a tutor doesn’t necessarily have to play a game but still enforce the importance of semantics. I have had students ask me what a particular word means; instead of just telling them, I ask them what they think it might mean in the context of the sentence that the word is situated in. I also ask them what comes to mind when they read that particular word; in having the students go through such a process, there is a greater chance they will retain their memory of it and can thus add it to their vocabulary, hopefully making use of it in their future writings.
Juan was the second presenter, who spoke about how he was inspired to write poetry in one of his English classes last year. He had read a sonnet that made him seem poetry in a completely different light, emphasizing the power of poetry. Juan also shared two of the sonnets that he himself had written, presenting another aspect of poetry as spoken word. Spoken word unveils the emotional weight held by the words of a poem, allowing the audience to feel the images presented. Evoking strong emotions in people is a significant effect of poetry; I encouraged my students to try to produce a similar effect in their writing. If a writer is able to cause a stir of emotions in his or her audience, the writer’s ideas will leave a stronger impression on the readers.
The third presenter was Kristen Beatty, who used the novel The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara King to emphasize the importance of word choice in literature. She spoke about how one word versus another can drastically alter the meaning of a sentence, which can cause a serious misinterpretation of the author’s point. While a reader may never be entirely sure what an author exactly intends to convey, word choice is important in obtaining the closest understanding of the author’s intention. Kristen spoke about the importance of word choice in literature, but I find it useful to think about the importance of word choice in the real world. With my students, I found it helpful to relate an important writing issue to real situations; I ask them to think about a specific life situation in which using the wrong word can lead to drastically different outcomes.
Overall, all three presentations provided a different angle to work from with my students, which helped increase their understanding of the importance of various writing skills.