Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Bedford Guide ch. 7-8... kinda

While I was reading the chapters for tomorrow, I realized something about myself; I can't read lists. I seriously tried to get through ch 7 (the checklists) about 700 times, but it simply couldn't be done. Ok I mean I read it...but it's pretty much gone now. I did manage to find myself thinking at least a little about tutoring when I was staring blankly at the pages. My first thought was that the checklists seemed like something that would be helpful in a tutoring session where the student doesn't have the assignment/rubric (and probably forgets the teacher, class, and possibly his/her own first name). However, I noticed that the checklists sorta reflected generalized theories for different kinds of papers (I think that sounds a lot fancier than what I'm trying to say). For example, the Science papers seemed Current Traditional, the English papers went a little more in depth in terms of assessing meaning, and the Business items were pretty cut and dry (like business I guess). It just seemed stereotypical to me if that makes any sense at all.

Chapter 8 on the other hand was a little more readable (although sadly not much... sorry Jackie). I liked that the book attempted to address non ideal situations, but it did so in an ideal way... A for effort I guess. At any rate, there was one type of writer that I have gotten before (only a few times though) that BG didn't talk about at all. The Overly Confident Writer. I know we've been talking in class about helping students that have a fear of writing poorly understand that most of the time they are capable of writing well. Every now and then (aka last week), I've had a student who feels his/her paper was really well done and perfect, and I'm pretty sure he/she is expecting me to say the same thing. I know that I can't let him/her walk out with a paper that needs a lot of work, but how do you break the news (aside from being "polite, patient, and supportive" as BG pounded into our heads)? It's not like the papers are unreadable, but when a student comes in on top of the world, how do you bring him/her down without bringing them down?

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Grammar Snobs - The End

Well I have to say that I think the book was overall very helpful. The ending lessons, I felt, were a little anti-climactic, but how climactic can you really get with grammar? I did enjoy the chapter about Satan's new language; to be totally honest I never really came to terms with the idea that flammable and inflammable were the same (that is until about 5 min ago when I read it). Other than that, I found that these last few chapters were mainly a reinforcement of the idea presented throughout the entire book: use your own good judgement.

Speaking of judgement, I thought an article I read for the Writing Center about ESL students brought up an interesting point about judgement. The article was about how to decide when to correct an ESL student's grammar/wording, and when the wording the student chooses presents his own unique voice. On the one hand, the student may be competing in a sense with native speakers (like if they are a grad student or applying for something), in which case a tutor may feel the need to "Nativise" the ESL student's writing to level the playing field. On the other hand, changing the wording takes away the student's unique voice, perspective, and use of the English language. So how do tutors deal with this dilemma? (This is a question I ask myself a lot, and I'm not sure I ever go anywhere with it). The article offered suggestions such as asking the student what his/her goal was (are they competing, or is the work a personal reflection piece); point out "mistakes" or "un-native wording," but make the student aware of the pro's and con's of using the correct forms; keep the student involved if you decide to reword so the student learns the reasoning behind why native speakers say the things the way we do (good luck finding reasoning for the English language), etc. I just thought this article offered a lot of good advice in a way that made me reevaluate some of my own techniques, and I halfway think we should read it in 435.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Bedford Guide ch. 5-6

Small Disclaimer: My major and I are not getting along right now; prepare for a semi-uninsightful (that's a made up word, but the Grammar Snob says that's ok) blog. Sorry in advance.

The chapters due tomorrow are 5 and 6 (hopefully anyways because those are the ones I just read), and here's my 2 cents. Let's start with ch. 5:
Learning Styles- I thought this section was helpful to note because I find learning styles interesting for no good reason really. I think my interest started during my training at the Learning Center when we discussed methods for tutoring to different needs. I think writing is a little easier to manipulate than math because you can color code ideas, read aloud, move pages around, and several other techniques that are fun to play around with. Whitney did some pretty cool research on ADD as a learning style that was nifty to read to.
I have a small bone to pick with the section on anxiety. I agree with what the sections says about relating to the student (a benefit of being a tutor vs a teacher I think). However, I hate how the author lists a chart of stressors and then pretends that some magical planning technique makes these anxieties disappear. If that idea works for you, than kudos to you. Personally the time I spend making the depressing list of things I will never get to takes away the time I should be spending doing said things. Ok small rant over

Ch 6. was helpful in some aspects, but others made me want to cry. For example, I think the most helpful page of the book thus far is the one that lists all of the OWL's. Good stuff. However, I think the least helpful pages were those about online tutoring (that could be do to a strong prejudice I have against online tutoring though). I think the rest of the info (the stuff about determining website credibility) was somewhere in the middle. I think it is good to know (when you yourself are writing a paper), but I think it is more info for the classroom not so much the tutor to explain.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Grammar Snobs...the adventure continues

In terms of actual lessons, I think these chapters (24-31) have been some of the most helpful. I thoroughly enjoyed her examples in chapter 26 about "affect" vs "effect," (this is something that many have tried to teach me, and so far all have failed). The Grammar Snob put it into terms that I can understand (kudos to her there); unfortunately, I have the feeling the lesson will be gone in a few days (not her fault though; this lesson never stays w/ me long). I also appreciated her focus on Hollywood throughout these chapters because my useless Hollywood trivia needs improvement as well.

One thought popped into my head several times when reading these chapters (especially the ones on predicate nom., conditional statements, etc). That was that many of these rules are ones that I learned in German class instead of English. I knew them in English, but not in terms of actually stating the rules (I only knew them because English, believe it or not by my superior grammar [sarcasm by the way], is my native language). And that was officially the most complex ( ) expression I have ever made; good luck reading that one. Anyways, what I'm trying to say is that I think it's a shame that (from my experience) Americans speak English, but they usually know very little about why they form sentences the way they do. It isn't until we learn a new language that the rules of our own become somewhat clear. Just a thought I had.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

The Bedford Guide vs. Phil

I realized today that I have not blogged about the BG yet, so (yet & so together?? grammar snob...can I do that?) I thought that I would take this opportunity to do so. First of all, my brief opinion about the book in general: I think that it does have a lot of helpful points, and I see a definite parallel between this book and my tutor training packet for the WC. As far as the situations it presents, however, I agree that they are very "Stepford-ish" (aka ideal). The writers in this handbook tend to assume that most students come prepared and ready to learn, and I'm not saying the opposite, but I think a lot of students come at a point in the process where they need some motivation (some because they can't seem to get started and others because they are simply "over" their paper).

Phil on the other hand, taught me a lot today in class. I got to be the client (which was extremely amusing for me), and Phil was put on the spot as my tutor. First of all, I think he was pretty calm and collected being critiqued by the class and I admire that. Secondly and most importantly though, he dealt with situations that arise in sessions that Bedford conveniently leaves out. Phil read me as a person in order to make me comfortable. Bedford mentions that you should sit side by side and be friendly, but they don't mention that you should somewhat analyze the client to see how to best relate to them. For example, Phil caught on to the way I think (a task all it's own) and tried to gear his questions toward my learning style. I like math and watching tv, so he related his examples to those things to help me understand. He also encouraged me time and time again to take notes in order to remember what we talked about; some students need that encouragement, otherwise they will just sit back and tune out. Although we did not get through the entire paper, he kept rephrasing the process of revision (again semi-relating to math and formulas) that we were going through together so that I could later apply it on my own.

Sure there were some aspects that Phil could have improved on, but I learned from those as well. By adapting to not-so-Stepford situations, he gave me a real example that I can relate to as a tutor when inconvenient issues arise in sessions. Bedford is good, but I'd take Phil any day :)

Monday, February 11, 2008


First of all I stole the "wtf" from Travis's post (sorry Travis) for lack of creativity. Now that I got that off my chest, I thought I would reflect on an idea that came up in class last Wednesday. Multi-modality. Wednesday was not the first time I've heard this word; in fact I heard it at our WC meeting and in my English 213 class last semester. Basically the world of literature is changing in new, exciting (not to mention incredibly confusing), ways.

We read some multi-modal lit in my 213 class, and the general opinion was that it can be good depending on the context of the story/poem being portrayed. For example, we read a short story presented as a hypertext called, "Charmin' Cleary." The story is about a coach/teacher accused of molesting a teenage girl who in return sacks the teacher. The story is told however, in a very nonlinear fashion. The navigation of the story appears totally random, and there is no way of telling when you as a reader have reached the end. While this is frustrating in many cases, it works for this story because it makes the story mirror the gossip by which it is told.

My original point in bringing up multi-modality (and I promise I had one) was that it can be hard to present to an audience. People sometimes resist change and are not willing to trade in turning pages for clicking a hyperlink. In addition, as the grammar snob points out, our language with this new technology is changing as well. How do we as writers decide when (if ever) it is ok to use "text speak" in our papers? It will cause some audience members to be more engaged in our stories, however some will always reject it (I know I would probably crap twice and die if I saw a student write "lmao" in a research paper"). Either way, change is coming; the grammar snob says so. Embrace it or deny it, but it's happening with or without you.

Monday, February 4, 2008

GS: Ch. 9 Anarchy

The Rule:
Sometimes there are no definite rules in English. Different styles (MLA, APA, AP, etc.) use different sets of rules in many situations.

The Exceptions:
None. We all agree to disagree :)

-There is disagreement about using the word, "entitled." According to an AP handbook, "entitled means a right to do/have something; do not use it to mean 'titled'." However, in a Chicago manual you can find sentences like, "...publication of your contribution ENTITLED,..."
-Other variations occur when dealing with apostrophes. Some styles write, "Charlies's friend" while others use "Charlies' friend."

Again, we all agree to disagree. Different styles have different preferences, so as long as you follow the style you are writing for, you will be right.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Grammar Snobs...the fun continues

I just finished reading chapters 8-15, and I have some mixed feelings. On the one hand, I feel a lot better about my own lack of grammar knowledge after reading so many sections over the "anarchy" occurring in our language. Apparently my instinct to always wonder who was making these grammatical decisions and why they got to do so, was not in vane. I feel more confident knowing that even the grammar snobs among us are making things up as they go along. On the other hand, however, these particular chapters offered little in the way of improving my grammar/teaching me anything. Not that I minded, I wasn't really in the learning mood when I read them, I was just expecting more lessons like in the beginning of the book. C'est la vie I suppose.

On a side note, chapter 15 is pretty much my life in a nutshell. At least the part about feeling like a moron watching Jeopardy. I am convinced that show is on air for the sole purpose of ticking me off.