Monthly Archives: November 2011

Why do we care? Literary criticism as required.

      “Books, movies, songs—stories told in any artistic medium can give you an empathy workout. To grow stronger, find stories that are unfamiliar. If you read, watch, or hear only things you know well, you’re looking for validation, not an expansion of empathy. There’s nothing wrong with that, but to achieve high levels of fitness, focus once a week on the story of someone who seems utterly different from you.”
Read more: http://www.oprah.com/oprahs-lifeclass/Martha-Beck-Have-a-Heart#ixzz1f0bGq49h
 
  We each have our own ways of relaxing.  Now that I spend more time on the computer I take my coffee with a little bit of information- chat on LinkedIn in, browse Oprah on-line, read a blog like Yummy Mummy http://www.yummymummyclub.ca/  or Savvy Mom  http://www.savvymom.ca/( the latter two local, here in Toronto ) before returning to the lessons and focus of My Tutoring Space.  I nearly always find an unexpected gem worth sharing like the quote above.
 
      Empathy. So many times I have heard ‘why do we have to read this’ from students who have found a particular study less than enthralling.  Aside from noting that their regular school teacher assigned the work , I ask students to do the following:
   think why the author may have chosen to write from that particular point of view
    what are we as readers being asked to care about- being made aware of?
   what is it about the writing  style, writer’s diction , setting , characters, plot*   that has made the student dislike the read?     Students are often surprised to realize that the same tools used for a positive critique can be used to discuss why the text was not enjoyed.  And some are even more surprised to uncover something worth liking in the story after all.
 
Criticism becomes a way for students to more fully think about the bigger issues while engaging with details.  As students become more confident recognizing patterns in writing, archetypes in literature, and moving beyond the knee jerk reaction of like/didn’t like, so too their writing in general improves. 
   

How to do everything

Well I don’t know about you but I can’t do everything, and I have realized this.  I have also learned how to select and share knowledge about other people’s expertise (quoting material in an essay) and, as is the case below, to select wonderful resources.  I have cataloged and organized the following websites by approximate age appeal.  I work with students from a variety of backgrounds – some sites are valid for all ages, others a little more age/grade specific. And indeed I am even featuring Oprah!   In fact I am going to start with her very thoroughly annotated book lists:

http://www.oprah.com/oprahsbookclub/Books-for-Girls-Kids-Reading-List

http://www.oprah.com/oprahsbookclub/Books-for-Boys-Kids-Reading-List

the following is listed as “Book Club” and features modern classics and well as the tried and true-  certainly the list is not limited to the adults as many a teen will be drawn to some of the stories.    Vocabulary building is the added bonus that comes with Reading, and a stronger vocabulary will translate to clearer Writing.

 TEEN AND ADULT:   http://www.oprah.com/packages/oprahs-book-club-selections.html

Now to other websites :

the following are for younger students: 

http://robertmunsch.com/books/

http://www.wordcentral.com/

http://www.wordcentral.com/games.html

http://www.uclick.com/client/mwb/tmjkf/

http://www.dictationsonline.com/

http://www.efl.net/caol.htm

http://www.efl.net/audioproject.htm

For Adult Learners:

http://www.betterenglish.org.ph/Pronunciation/Listening.htm    

 http://www.esl-lounge.com/student/reading-intermediate.php

Oxford University press is geared to teachers but adult learners applying for a job can get practice vocabulary here:

     http://elt-marketing.oup.com/oup_elt/wordlink/pdfs/owl_lesson1_jan10.pd

College age: actually, Readers of all ages  can find something to enjoy here….

http://etc.usf.edu/lit2go/title/titles.html     A-Z books on Line – all ages – you won’t need a kindle just the computer

also Project Gutenberg: www.gutenberg.org    thousands of titles downloaded and free to read on line

gutenberg.ca/

Archive of free ebooks of works that are in the public domain in Canada, focusing on Canadian writers and topics

Grammar: http://classroom.jc-schools.net/basic/la-grammar.html

and finally with thanks to University of Toronto, the following, regarding essay writing, below:  I can’t say this often enough:

Some Myths about Thesis Statements

  • Every paper requires one. Assignments that ask you to write personal responses or to explore a subject don’t want you to seem to pre-judge the issues. Essays of literary interpretation often want you to be aware of many effects rather than seeming to box yourself into one view of the text.
  • A thesis statement must come at the end of the first paragraph. This is a natural position for a statement of focus, but it’s not the only one. Some theses can be stated in the opening sentences of an essay; others need a paragraph or two of introduction; others can’t be fully formulated until the end.
  • A thesis statement must be one sentence in length, no matter how many clauses it contains. Clear writing is more important than rules like these. Use two or three sentences if you need them. A complex argument may require a whole tightly-knit paragraph to make its initial statement of position.
  • You can’t start writing an essay until you have a perfect thesis statement. It may be advisable to draft a hypothesis or tentative thesis statement near the start of a big project, but changing and refining a thesis is a main task of thinking your way through your ideas as you write a paper. And some essay projects need to explore the question in depth without being locked in before they can provide even a tentative answer.
  • A thesis statement must give three points of support. It should indicate that the essay will explain and give evidence for its assertion, but points don’t need to come in any specific number.

IMPORTANT – Respect your classroom teacher’s wishes and follow the guidelines offered at your home school.  When you work with me, I offer enrichment, a chance to try new skills and improve.

As always, best regards,

from Alison (Ali the English Tutor)