Questions and Predictions

If you take a look at our readings the next few weeks, you’ll see that they’re designed to frontload a number of the ongoing issues and practical challenges that tutors face when working with writing. Things like:

  • To read a student’s paper aloud, or not? Or to try other strategies?
  • How many questions should I ask? What kind?
  • What do I do when a student requests proofreading, or wants to work on “just grammar”?
  • For whom might there be a value in starting with error-correction? Under what conditions?
  • How do I set a tone for work with a student? What’s my role as a tutor, and how can I balance a commitment to friendly talk with getting work done?
  • What if a student just doesn’t want to work with me, or is reluctant to share their ideas?

We’ll be reading two per day, but they’re short-ish! And the goal for us should be to isolate perspectives, claims, or evidence from research that will help you train up into an amazing tutor who helps students REVISE their writing and REFLECT on how they’re developing as writers. We also want them to:

  • Learn ways to revise
  • Understand rhetorical organization better
  • Understand how readers might approach their writing
  • Plan out ways to work with teacher and peer feedback
  • Use sources appropriately
  • Think about different options, modes, claims, or forms of evidence to use in their writing

And so on. So today, first we’ll be hearing your reactions to what you read. Both the Reading Aloud in the Writing Center piece and The Question as a Teaching Tool (pp. 34-40 using the page #s in this book).  Then we’ll work with the first few pages of a “Literacy Narrative,” a paper common to ENGL 130 classes in which students tell a story about a moment in their history of reading or writing that sheds light on an issue related to literacy.

First we’ll go over the kinds of strategies the researchers in Disruptive Design: Reading Aloud in the Writing Center recommend in order to “point and predict.” We’ll follow that up with some suggestions or ideas you got from The Question as a Teaching Tool. Then please group into teams of two or three and take turns playing “student writer” and “tutor.” The tutor should try to use “point and predict” strategies with the paper, try to avoid “leading questions” or other “non-directive” questions, and the student should respond as students might.

Make sure everyone gets a turn being the tutor!

Then talk about how you responded to the draft:

  • What you noticed in the draft
  • What kinds of “point and predict” comments you made about the paper, and where
  • How those comments could help the writer revise, or get him/her to rethink moments in the draft
  • How using “point and predict” changes your affect, tone, or sense of what can be done in an hour in the writing center?

Then we’ll see how people fared. Fun!


Hey! I'm a professor of Rhetoric and Writing in the English dept. at Chico State. Also disc golf player, indie music listener, and vanilla Marxist.

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