Friday, September 16, 2011

Sept 16

Hello, hello! Fun week it has been. So far, it has definitely been the most active week working in the Writing Center.
I observed two very different and each very interesting sessions. The first session was on Monday, kicked off by our own Melissa K. The session was with a non-traditional social work student.

He was originally very confused by the assignment page and the prompt he was given. He seemed sure that he was making it into “more than it is,” so Melissa took the assignment sheet and gave it a look. She clarified just what it was that was being asked of him. He had a paper in which he needed to write about each chapter in his textbook and how it relates to his own life. He simply had a hard time making a connection, but talking it through helped a lot. Melissa was constantly cheerful, saying very honestly (when the writer was afraid he was taking up her time) that this is the “best part” of her job. I noticed that she was always sitting on the edge of her seat, rather than sitting back. By doing this, she looked constantly attentive.

Melissa H. then showed up and continued with his session. Since he had more than one paper, Melissa told him to pick the one that he had the most questions about.
The paper was quite lovely, honestly. Melissa H. had a different style from Matt (who usually reads the writer’s work aloud), and she laid his paper on the table between both of them and had him read the paper aloud. This way, she was able to see the content of the paper as he was reading it, and how sometimes the way he would read something aloud was different than it was on the paper. This also made awkward phrasing, confusing sentences and structural mistakes more easy to identify. The writer also admitted to not really knowing the purpose of semi-colons. He had thought of them as kind of a glorified comma (understandable) and would just kind of throw them in randomly when he thought he had used too many commas. Melissa delivered a very concise semi-colon lesson, and the writer understood very well. This was actually kind of exciting! I knew he really understood what Melissa had just explained but that he never had before. I loved seeing this happen and somehow knowing that he was going to remember and understand semi-colons from that day forward.

Another session I observed was Matt with a writer whose paper focused on a poem in Honors English Literature. Matt was the perfect person for this session because he has plenty of experience reading and analyzing poetry. The writer’s paper was solidly constructed so far, so really, it just seemed like she needed someone to brainstorm with and to bounce ideas off of. This was a really pleasant session as well. Together, Matt and the writer came to many philosophical realizations about the poem, thus equipping her with much more material to draw from. Matt read the paper aloud, per usual, and the writer took notes as they both brainstormed together. Extremely collaborative, beneficial session.

As for the reading due this past Tuesday, I really enjoyed “Provocative Revision.” Maria and I got kind of a kick out of the whole idea of it being so riskay, so to speak, to focus on the revision part of the writing process in such great depths. I loved some of the suggestions about transforming the forms of the pieces, and I especially enjoyed and identified with the section about narrowing your topic down to something really small and to expand on it, rather than to have something huge that you have to try and condense. Huge topics on a small scope generally tend to be boring and/or impossible papers to write and to read. I liked the section on the young woman writing about one day working on a potato farm, rather than her entire working career. With this, the audience likely learns something he or she never knew about potato farming, or about life in general. Good read. Not always relevant to the student’s paper at hand, but a very valuable essay to keep on hand.

In class, I was really impressed with Keith's comparison of a sentence to a restaurant menu. Great example of where someone takes one thing that they know and know well and applies it to situations in the Writing Center.

P.S: I’m amazed at how quickly the candy gets eaten in the center! Fantastic!

1 comment:

  1. Hi, Stephanie! Great post here. I enjoyed reading your descriptions of the sessions you sat in on. And, in particular, it was fun to read a description of my body language. I don't think I ever noticed before that I sat on the edge of my chair, but I'm pretty sure I do that all the time when I'm working with a writer (and not just because that's the only way my feet touch the ground). I wonder if students feel like I'm about to pounce on them? (A pounce with hugs, probably.)

    I think Melissa's mini-lesson on the semicolon is exactly why we DO want to talk about grammar. Student's don't always know why they're doing what they're doing, and no one else has taken the time to explain it to them. The semicolon is a relatively simple idea, yet most students don't know how to use them appropriately (and, in fact, I've heard of instructors telling students to just stay away from them because they're so confusing--what???). So, this guy left the session better understanding semicolons? AWESOME.

    I look forward to provoking some revision out of you in the future!

    Have a great weekend!