Last year, we discovered what it’s like to live in the deepest canyon in the world, to work on a chicken farm, and to make Veggie Momos, a Tibetan dish. We also sympathized with those learning English’s quirky rules: “How is a /t/ silent?” wrote Douglas B. in his
All because our students put the time, effort, and heart into writing for In Our Words, our annual student publication. As a tutor, you can be your writer’s cheerleader to make this a goal in 2019.
It’s never too early to start encouraging your learner to share experiences that we all learn from. Submissions for the yearly publication is due in May. Each story should be fewer than 400 words.
But how do you come up with that first draft? Some tips from tutors who worked with new and continuing authors last year:
A successful article comes from a student who is comfortable and not under any pressure, says tutor Sandy S. “I start talking to them about In Our Words fairly early, even before the PSC staff mentions it. That gives them a lot of time to think about whether they want to submit something, and to think about what they’d like to write. I emphasize that it’s completely voluntary and that they can take time to think about it.”
Tutor Nancy G. makes a quick warm-up chat with her learner a part of every lesson. The learner can talk about anything! “Once I pick up on something, we discuss it more so she can frame it without knowing where I’m going with the discussion. Eventually, I will ask her to write what we have just talked about. “Just a few sentences.” She takes it from there and we, together, will spend several sessions tweaking and correcting. It’s at this point I suggest this would be a good story for the student writings book.”
Tutor Kathy U. said she starts developing topics by casting the net wide! “We brainstorm a list of possible topics (8-10) and then narrow the list to 2 or 3 ideas. It’s best if the ideas come from the student, with prompting from the tutor. Once my student narrows down the list, we do a mind map to figure out what could be included.”
Tutor Kim V. explains a Diamante Poem, a short poem with a set format, to get her learner’s creative juices flowing. Her learner wrote two poems! Here is the template:
Line 1: noun
Line 2: adjective, adjective
Line 3: -ing verb, -ing verb, -ing verb,
Line 4: either a 4-word phrase or 4 nouns
Line 5: -ing verb, -ing verb, -ing verb,
Line 6: adjective, adjective
Line 7: synonym for Line 1
Books are helpful too. PSC’s collection includes Writing Frames: 40 Activities for Learning the Writing Process (beginner); Writing Skills (beginning to advanced); and The Write Stuff: Putting It Into Paragraphs (intermediate to advanced).