I found Richard Miller’s presentation in the beginning of the semester to be both informative and very interesting. I used many of the techniques Miller talked about in my tutoring sessions this semester. He gave each of us a paper and asked us to find where the student’s best, most developed ideas were. The student seemed to touch on a few good ideas, but didn’t go into any detail and really just brushed past their best ideas. Miller gave us the advice to look for the spots in the students’ papers where they are really thinking. I didn’t quite understand this at first–i thought obviously they’re thinking throughout their writing– but after he explained this idea, it made perfect sense. Students tend to state an idea and then run, moving right onto their next thought. This is where we, as tutors, should focus. By letting the students know where they are really starting to think and pushing them to keep going, we exponentially improve their writing. It isn’t as simple as fixing commas or capitalization; showing students where their best ideas are and urging them to explore these makes them not only more confident, since we are praising their work, but it improves their writing because they are forced to complete their best ideas and really expand their thought. Now, I find it so easy to see the spots where students are really thinking – not only do they bring up an interesting idea, but they go into it and really develop their argument. This semester, my most frequent comment on all of the papers I read was “Elaborate here.” As I said, most of my students mention an interesting idea and then move on. I’ve found that just by pointing out where the students should go into more detail, I improve their writing without offering too much of my own opinion. They still do all the work, I just guide the way. Richard Miller’s discussion made my tutoring this semester a lot better and more productive. His advice to find where the students are thinking has been the most useful I’ve received in my time tutoring and I am glad that I was able to utilize it this semester.
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