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Writing Fellow Resources

This is the portal site for ideas and strategies that emerge over the course of time tutoring. Please add your favorite strategies, approaches, activities, etc. by emailing the Writing Program office.

Can’t think of a resource page to produce? Check out our list of ideas that await your creation.

General thoughts . . .

  • To set a friendly or happy note, have the student look at a place where he did something good and build on it. You can use good moments as models for less successful moments elsewhere in the paper.
  • Play dumb: take a tone of, “please help me understand this” rather than “you really didn’t explain this very well.”
  • Pay disproportionate attention to the introduction: make sure the student has a thesis; help them create an overview.
  • Start with the thesis.
  • Get the student to start out by telling you what they want to do in the paper. (Do this after you’ve read over the paper, especially if you’re confused.) Take notes while they are talking and then go back and use your notes as a guide. You can then identify parts of the paper that match up to that description (“This is really clear”) and points where it doesn’t (“This was really much clearer when you explained it to me . . .”). Make your goal to communicate the extent to which they’ve fit what they want to say with what’s on the page.
  • When making a suggestion, pose alternatives to give the student a choice.
  • Do something concrete. Give students tasks. For example, “While I’m reading this over, find three things that are an example of an issue you’re worried about.” (Bonus: this helps them learn to diagnose their own writing.)
  • Get the student to say really specifically what concerns her. You can then build off her energy. The phrase, “My professor said . . .” can be a blinder, so try to decode the actual comments (if she brings them).

See other WF ideas for . . .