January 31, 2008

Tutors Constructing Knowledge: Handouts Revisited

(Article length 2764 words)

Susan Dinitz, University of Vermont, Burlington, VT
Jean Kiedaisch, University of Vermont, Burlington, VT

Editors intro: Writing tutors understand the importance of handouts in terms of organizing and presenting essential information to students.  However, as writing center directors Susan Dinitz and Jean Kiedaisch have found, as helpful as handouts can be, they can also limit the creative ability of the tutor and sometimes may not fit the writing needs of the student in a particular situation.  Moreover, there is the challenge of finding the particular handout when it is needed for a session.  The following article examines the usefulness of handouts in varying tutoring situations as well as some handout modifications which will ensure organized and effective tutoring sessions.

As directors, we have felt conflicted about the use of handouts in our writing center at the University of Vermont, as they seem to contradict our philosophy. Handouts seem by their nature to be reductive, prescriptive, and rule-driven, to suggest that knowledge is passed on rather than constructed. In Andrea Lunsford’s terms, they seem to support the idea of a writing center as a “storehouse” rather than “a collaborative Burkean parlor based on the notion of knowledge as always contextually bound, as always socially constructed” .
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Filed under: Academic Learning Centers,Home Schooling,Small Private Practices,Study Tools,Tutoring Practices

January 28, 2008

Rethinking Homework

(Article length 762 words)

By Alfie Kohn

Daily homework is the rule in most schools. Why not make it the exception? 

After spending most of the day in school, children are typically given additional assignments to be completed at home.  This is a rather curious fact when you stop to think about it, but not as curious as the fact that few people ever stop to think about it. 

It becomes even more curious, for that matter, in light of three other facts:
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Filed under: Academic Learning Centers,Assessment,Small Private Practices,Tutoring Practices

January 25, 2008

Help Your Student Get the Most Out of Homework

(Article length 1766 words)

This guide is a joint project of NEA and National PTA.

Homework. Many students try to avoid it, but teaching and learning research indicates that children who spend more time on regularly assigned, meaningful homework, on average, do better in school, and that the academic benefits of homework increase as children move into the upper grades.

Parents and families play an important role in the process. Together, families and teachers can help children develop good study habits and attitudes to become lifelong learners.

On this page you’ll find answers to questions many people have about homework, as well as specific advice for helping your children.

Why do teachers give homework?

Click here to read more on: "Help Your Student Get the Most Out of Homework"

Filed under: Academic Learning Centers,Peer-Tutoring,Small Private Practices,Tutoring Practices

January 23, 2008

Gifted Children with Learning Disabilities Need Focused Tutoring

(Article length 762 words)

By Amanda Snelling

Editor Intro:  When "giftedness" is accompanied by learning disabilities, a highly intelligent student can become extremely frustrated and demoralized both in and outside of the classroom.  In the following article, Amanda Snelling provides us with a clearer definition of what it means to be gifted or learning disabled and how a tutor can specialize instruction to meet the needs of students who are intellectually gifted as well as learning disabled.

We’ve all heard the terms "gifted" and "learning disabled" before, but most of us have little idea what these labels truly mean.

While it is often believed that children with learning disabilities are always mentally "slow," many such children are both intellectually gifted and have a learning disability, which presents an unique set of problems to the educator.

While understanding and efficiently processing information is more difficult for persons with learning disabilities, the greater problem in such a case is reconciling within oneself the experience of possessing both high intelligence and a learning disability. These children may need a specialized tutor so they can have one-on-one teaching that attempts to identify methods of teaching tailored specifically to their unique style of learning.  Click here to read more on: "Gifted Children with Learning Disabilities Need Focused Tutoring"

Filed under: Academic Learning Centers,Assessment,Coaching,Home Schooling,Peer-Tutoring,Small Private Practices

January 20, 2008

Establishing Guidelines for the Email Tutor

(Article length 2365 words)

By Elke A. Kleisch,
National-Louis University

Technology has broadened the scope of how we deliver learning assistance to students. Casazza and Silverman recognize, "New technology is evident in computer-assisted instruction, distance learning through E-mail, interactive learning experiences with specialized software, and writing networks in which students and faculty share their compositions via the electronic highway" (1996, p. 268). As online learning assistance develops, we must develop new ways to integrate technology to help students develop their skills.

Online writing assistance provides students with a resource to improve their writing skills with the flexibility and convenience of an online environment. "For students involved in earlier generations of open and distance education, regular opportunities for interaction with their tutor and other students were simply not available" (Littleton & Whitelock, 2004, p.173). However, online writing assistance is not limited to distance learners – working adult students, off campus students, and others consider the email-tutoring environment a practical option. While online tutoring is a relatively new approach to learning assistance, the tutor should not forget the pedagogical goals of tutoring as well as his or her role as a tutor. Furthermore, as acknowledged by Barker (2002), "Online tutors need to have a range of different technical and communication skills" (p. 7).

Click here if you want to read more on: "Establishing Guidelines for the Email Tutor"

Filed under: Coaching,Pedagogy,Peer-Tutoring,Productivity,Small Private Practices,Technology,Test Prep,Tutoring Practices

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