Writing Tutoring Tips
  • You are a tutor, not an editor
  • Focus on the writer, not the writing: The goal is to help the writer develop new skills, not to wind up with a perfect paper
  • Focus on the process as well as the product: Talk about how the writer approached or might approach the project
  • You are a writing tutor, not a grammar tutor: Establish priorities and focus on higher order concerns (thesis, organization, evidence, and development, style and voice, and only the mechanics and citations)
  • Begin off the paper, not on the paper: Ask, "What are you arguing in the paper, what do you want someone to learn from your essay?" "What are you satisfied with, what do you want to focus on in this conference?"
  • Model, question, wait, and learn from the writer. Wait! Listen.

Ten Tips

  1. Establish rapport: Names, the context of the paper, the assignment, the stage of writing
  2. Ask writer what s/he wants to work on; collaborate to set an agenda; negotiate priorities.
  3. Ask writer how s/he wrote the paper; talk about process
  4. Emphasize writing as communication; you are the audience, share your reactions.
  5. Ask writer to read paper aloud, then ask what she/he noticed about the paper.
  6. Pause and ask yourself, what is the most helpful advice I can give this writer?
  7. Invite writer to create a brainstorm list, an outline, a plan.
  8. Serve as secretary as writer thinks aloud.
  9. Have writer mark the thesis, the strongest sections, the sections that need work.
  10. Challenge unhelpful global comments (I''m bad at grammar).
  11. Mark errors without correcting them.
  12. Choose a repeated error, ask students to tell you the rule, clarify rule, find repeated instances and practice.
  13. Encourage students to support each other!

[From Goucher Prison Education Partnership Workshop, Fall 2013]

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