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Writing Center: Resources for Tutors

A guide to information to help you research and write more effectively.

FAQ on Tutoring

Frequently Asked Questions - Plexon
Q1: My IEP student doesn't bring an assignment sheet. How can I get her to remember it?
Answer: You may try several possible ways of reminding your IEP students. You can remind the student of bringing the assignment sheet for next meeting in the end of your session. If you have the student’s contact information, you can send him/her a friendly reminder, such as via e-mail, text message or facebook message! Actually, we have all IEP assignment sheets in the IEP Assignment Notebook in the writing center. You can take advantage of the notebook if your student forgets to bring one.

Q2: What to do when my IEP student doesn't talk (speaking her opinion)?
Answer: As a tutor, you may start thinking of the possible reasons why the student doesn’t talk. Is he/she too shy to speak? Is he/she afraid of taking in English because of language barriers? Does the student need longer time to organize the answers into English words to your questions? Those assumptions are true for many situations when international students seem quiet/silent during an English conversation.

These are some strategies that you may want to try:
First, start your session with a casual conversation rather than jumping into assignments or writing immediately. You will see international students light up when they are asked about their native culture, their hometown, their new life at MC, even their school life in general. Not only help these questions break the ice, but they require less English skills and easier vocabulary to compose answers.

Second, in terms of speaking her opinion related to a specific assignment/writing piece, they may need longer time to respond. So, use wait time wisely. If you feel the student is still hesitant to speak, try to offer some possible answers in sample language. Sometimes, international students have good idea in their mind, but they don’t know how to express their thoughts in well organized sentences. However, their listening skill is better then speaking skill, in general. They may understand what you say and respond to one of the possible answers that you offer if it fits their thoughts, too.
In summary, try different strategies and keep patience.
Q3: Sometimes I think we might benefit from more than one copy of each assignment sheet because several of us are working with students from the same class, and we need to be able to look at the specific directions on the assignment sheets. This is especially important with IEP students since sometimes they don’t know what I’m talking about until they look at the sheet. What should I do?

Answer: It is a very good suggestion! In the "Resources for Tutors" Google Drive, you will find a link to a compilation of assignment sheets, syllabuses, and sample assignments from the most commonly seen assignments. Just search for the professor's class you are helping, and it should be listed! If not, contact your fellow tutors or Ms. Song to find extra copies of assignment sheets.
Q4: Any advice for helping IEP students when brainstorming ideas?

Answer: IEP teachers are trying to teach their students some common brainstorming strategies, such as using a concept map, freewriting, and making a list or outline, etc. Help IEP students practice those strategies they’ve learned in their classes.

Also, you can give a model for them. For instance, ask the student to come up with an idea that he/she may be interested in writing. It could be very broad. Start with the broad idea and try one of the strategies listed above and show the students the process of brainstorming. Then work with the student to brainstorm for another idea in his/her own.
Here is a link offering some strategies on brainstorming, too.
Q5: Do we assist students who are not MC students?
Answer: Yes! we value various forms of outreach and service to the community as well as MC students. If a person calls the writing center and asks for assistance on his/her writing, you can tutor him/her on the phone when you are available. Don't forget to fill out a Welcome Form and record the session. If you are working with other students and nobody is available at that moment, ask the the person to leave contact information and tell him/her that someone will call back for further assistance.
A Real Case:
A lady called the writing center and asked for help on writing. Jamie Sexton answered the phone and asked what he could specifically help with. Through talking, Jamie learned that the lady graduated from MC and currently works at a law firm. The lady needed help on her grammar for a peer review on her boss's work. Jamie worked with the lady on the phone and finished a half-hour tutoring session. Basically, he used similar strategies as he worked with walk-in students in the Writing Center. Jamie asked the lady read the writing loud, and he offered comments on spots that the lady needed directions/corrections.
Jamie has done a perfect job on that situation! He handled the case in a professional, friendly way. Great job!