Month: December 2015

CAPTA Connects Tutor Presentation Recap: “All the World’s a Stage’: Building Connections from the Proscenium to the Writing Center”

Over the next several weeks, we will be featuring Tutor Presentation Recaps from our 2015 Conference, CAPTA Connects. This recap is by Emily Wilson, a Senior tutor in the Edison Writing Center.

“All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players” – do the bard’s words apply to the writing center community? Are tutors like actors, who can take the stage and adopt personas besides their own? Perhaps not exactly, but the connections that could be formed between the actor’s process and tutoring practices cannot be ignored. As a thespian and third year tutor, I thought this would be a fascinating topic to explore.

I began the presentation with a quick theater game, where I instructed participants to pretend that an invisible fishing line is pulling a body part, such as the nose or elbow, in another direction – perhaps to the floor, the ceiling, or even sideways! I asked audience members to freeze in place and conducted “interviews” with them, asking them to create a character based upon their strange position they’d put themselves in. This simple exercise called participants’ attention to the importance of posture, body language, and voice in giving clues that reveal personality and mood. I asked my audience to think about how their posture and body language reveals subtle aspects of their own character, first addressing the theater kids in the room, and then opening the question up to everyone.

I explained the process of getting into character for the stage, talking about what I personally do and using key questions I adapted from an article in The Guardian. I then applied this to the writing center. Drawing from the various tutoring “hats” outlined in The Bedford Guide for Writing Tutors,  participants discussed what they experienced during the theater exercise and how they carry themselves during a tutoring session to create a tutor “character”. We examined the various ways one can play a tutor, exploring how these techniques can be applied universally or be used to cater to specific tutees’ needs.

I also made sure to talk about body language specifically, since it is such a major facet of both acting and tutoring. After a quick discussion about the importance of body language in the center, I then went through basic tips from a Forbes article a tutor could use to foster collaboration in a session, such as leaning in or mirroring body language and gestures. We talked about how we could apply these ideas to tutoring sessions. Finally, we transitioned to another key aspect of both disciplines, and discussed how we can manipulate the rate and volume of our speech, as well as the importance of taking the time to clearly enunciate.

I hope that my participants left the session with a stronger understanding of the implications of their posture, seating position, and vocal tone when tutoring. Hopefully, they will be more aware of how they can use their bodies and voices as instruments to enhance and improve their tutoring strategies to make the writing center a more comfortable, productive environment for all.

Prezi Link

CAPTA Connects Tutor Presentation Recap: “A Waste of Time or A Creative Gold Mine: Utilizing Brainstorming Strategies From The Business and College World”

Over the next several weeks, we will be featuring Tutor Presentation Recaps from our 2015 Conference, CAPTA Connects. This recap is by Sophia Ennaboulssi and Isabel Aldaba, Junior tutors in the Edison Writing Center.

Brainstorming can be quite a daunting task for many writers, especially when they first begin to write, and tutees are no exception, so tutors need to be able to help tutees conceptualize various ideas. It is common for tutees to utilize the writing center to improve and build upon a draft; however, what happens when a tutee comes in with a blank paper or with many unsolidified ideas? How can tutors avoid “feeding” the tutee ideas?  How can tutors help develop or express ideas if they are unfamiliar with the subject of the assignment?

There are many situations that tutors will need to adapt to in order to help their tutee brainstorm. A tutor will encounter sessions in which the tutee may be too dependent on a tutor’s ideas, or a tutor may not know the context behind an assignment’s topic and have trouble helping to  generate concepts.  Some tutees have many ideas but  struggle in making them clear and concrete, while others do not know where to begin. Tutors will also be required to aid students with papers on various genres and subjects, whether it be a literary analysis or a thesis paper for History.  

Our presentation began with a short introduction on the importance of brainstorming. The presentation identified the possible challenges a tutor will encounter in a session that focuses on this first stage of the writing process, in which will highlight effective questions which will stimulate new ideas. Based on research on brainstorming tactics used in the business world and college writing centers, such as the one in University of North Carolina, we discussed multiple methods that will help tutees flesh out their ideas in various scenarios.

Interviews with teachers from different departments (English, History, and Creative Writing) at Thomas A. Edison High School gave us insight on particular assignments in each subject that require brainstorming. For each assignment, examples of different methods were outlined discussing why they were the most effective. Tutors will gain new-found knowledge of how they can connect business and college writing center techniques to their own tutoring sessions when helping a student during the first stage of writing. This presentation can also be really helpful to writing center directors who want to train their tutors in how to tutor brainstorming sessions and the methods they should show to their tutees.

Presentation Link:

CAPTA Connects Tutor Presentation Recap: “Linking the Present to the Future: The Transition from High School Tutoring to College Tutoring “

Over the next several weeks, we will be featuring Tutor Presentation Recaps from our 2015 Conference, CAPTA Connects. This recap is by Edison Writing Center tutors Brenna Coogan, a Senior, and Jhonie Geffa, a Junior.

How do writing center practices transition from the high school environment to the university environment? What skills do high school tutors need to work in a college writing center? Guided by these questions, two high school tutors explored the differences between tutoring at the high school and college levels while focusing on writing center practices, the application process, requirements, and training.

Through interviews with college writing center tutors and directors, presenters informed high school tutors of their potential options for continuing to tutor at the university level. To inform these tutors, presenters gathered information on local college writing centers. Presenters created a survey for Edison High School writing center tutors to inform them of questions or concerns about college writing centers. Next, they connected with college writing center tutors and directors and conducted interviews on tutoring practices, the application process, requirements, and training. Presenters interviewed former high school writing center tutors and refocused questions on how their experience as tutors changed in college to gain a new perspective for current tutors to sympathize with.

Lastly, participants discussed their tutoring goals and new applications for tutoring in the real world. Some of the goals the participants had  were to look at the application process for their future college. If the future college did not have a writing center, they would thought of ways to start one. The presenters discussed how the audience could learn about the writing center at their campus and a list of different ways to get involved.

Participants also left with a greater understanding of college writing centers and what to look forward to in the new setting. A small portion of what the participants were looking forward to in the future was getting to meet new people and build new relationships. A large amount of participants looked forward to getting paid for their services. Overall, the attendees were all looking forward to using their tutoring skills in the future.