Fun Summer Learning – Writing!

Fun Summer Learning – Writing

Yes, writing can be fun!

The key is to find a topic that you want to write about and then jump right in.  Don’t hesitate, do not pass GO, do not second guess yourself.

Make a list of your children’s interests: sports, video games, television shows, movies, superheroes, toys, etc.  Encourage them to get excited about writing about their favourite topic(s).

For example, if Johnny is obsessed with transformers, he could write a review about a certain transformer.  He could instructive article explaining how to manipulate the transformer. He could compare this transformer with others in his collection, and so on.

Children often want to share what they know and what they are passionate about.

Writing a blog about one’s interests is a great way to share information.  Search for other blogblogs or sites on the same topic. This will allow you to practise reading skills, too. Connecting with others and following their sites will increase the number of your readers and their participation.

If you are worried about Internet security, ensure that you have the passwords and go online with your children, or monitor them.  You can control the comments that come in or read them in advance of your writing time.

Don’t be too pedantic!

You don’t need to correct every spelling or punctuation mistake.

Gently make suggestions.  Reword a confusing sentence as you read it, allowing your child to make the change if he or she catches your meaning.

The more your children practise writing, and of course reading other articles, the better they will become.  You might even point out a few errors that other authors make that are similar to your child’s errors.  The next time he or she is writing, this “correction” might be more obvious.

Of course, all of this is child dependent.  If your children have no issue with proofreading and editing, you can go full throttle with doing so.

If you don’t want to blog, you can always start a journal.  Part of the fun is searching for a nice book in which to keep a journal. Having said this, any scribbler or even a binder with loose-leaf sheets can serve. You can always decorate the cover yourselves!children writing

Your children can write a journal just like a blog, or they can do a more traditional journal in which daily events, feelings, and thoughts are recorded.

If you want, you could delineate a few daily topics. For example: Write one good thing that happened, one not so good, one new experience, one funny or interesting story, etc.

Of course, you can create cartoons with text, write a short story, even begin a novel if your children are keen.  I have met several students who are really challenged with writing; however, given the chance, they get very excited about writing a science fiction story or a fantasy!

Remember – look for that KEY.

Above all, you want to have fun with your creations.  The whole goal of learning is to find interesting avenues into new discoveries.  That’s not to say there is never any “slogging” to be done, but even that can be fun in the end when you are proud of the final accomplishment.

Need a little help along the way?

Tutoring can make a massive difference – especially when the tutor loves learning himself or herself and projects that enthusiasm to the student.

Free information meetings available! (Online or in-person.)

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Our Rose of Sharon this year!

Website:  www.tutoringcentral.com

This week’s video:

Fun Summer Learning – Writing.

 

 

 

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Jump Into Online Tutoring – It Works!

Find a tutor

This sounds obvious enough.  You can find lots of tutors online these days.  Look for a tutor that will be a good fit for you or your child.  When you find a potential candidate, check out his or her website, videos, blogs, etc.  This will get you a feel for the tutor’s style. Of course, you want a tutor who has knowledge in your area of interest.  However, finding a good fit goes beyond subject matter.  You need to chat and make sure that the tutor’s personality and approach make you feel comfortable.

Get in touch

Allow time to chat with the tutor online.  If you are going to sign up for online tutoring, you might as well practise “working” online.  There are many excellent platforms that allow tutors, parents, and students to see and hear one another almost as if they are in the same room!  Skype, Zoom, and BitPaper work really well.  (All free to use!)

Be understanding and patient.  You will want the tutor to schedule you at a time that works for you but also for him or her, so that nobody is rushed or unprepared for the chat.  Every tutor is different, but I provide a minimum 30 minute free information meeting.  (They are so much fun, we often run over.)

This is a perfect time to see how you can interact online through one or more of the programs that the tutor uses.  For example, I show my potential clients that they can write, type, draw, share documents & videos, and share screens while we have our meeting.  Of course, we can see each other through the cameras and talk just as if we were in the same room.  It is truly amazing.

Small clip showing a tiny bit of the online abilities.

Ask away!  evan-dennis-75563

Ask your prepared questions.  Look for a tutor who is able to answer your questions to your satisfaction.  A tutor who tells you exactly what he or she is able to do and what he or she is not able to do is far more valuable than one who simply “advertises.”  Everyone has limits.  Also, tutors cannot guarantee a specific improvement, although they can provide you with common results or even examples of stellar results that occur occasionally.  Don’t forget to ask about how lessons are delivered? What times are available? How are the lessons packaged?  Is there a minimum number of lessons required? What is the cancellation policy?

Not all ABC’s and 123’s

I have touched on this before.  Learning is not only about the abc’s and the 123’s. You want an educational coach that can relate to the student and that can motivate, encourage, and help the student reach his or her goals.  Of course, if you are looking for a writing tutor or reading tutor, you want someone knowledgeable in these areas, but he or she also needs to be able to speak well enough to engage the student.  He or she needs to have a rapport and, in my opinion, a sense of humour.

Patience is essential.  For over twenty years I have tutored all kinds of students and patience cannot be overrated.  Everyone learns differently.  A tutor needs to take the time to know the student and gear the teaching style and methods to the individual, focusing on using the student’s strengths to conquer his or her weaknesses and construct a more solid foundation.

Do you feel comfortable?  children-593313_640

Sign up.  Commit to a number of lessons. Don’t be afraid to get started.  It is often this step that “trips up” the process.  Like anything new, it is a bit scary – but the rewards are amazing!

First lesson

Don’t be late!  Try to make sure that you have the time correct – particularly if you and the tutor are in different time zones.  (Of course, the tutor should aim to make this clear as well.)  Please, respect the tutor’s time.  Consistency is key for learning also, so try to make all scheduled lessons or reschedule within the same week if possible.  The first lesson is exciting, but it can be frustrating, too.  The technology is great, but it is not perfect.  Allow for a few glitches and a little learning curve to get everything right.  Smile. Enjoy.  Your tutor will help walk you through any technical issues, but there is nothing wrong with you helping each other.  The first lesson should leave you feeling comfortable, and it should provide a good start to your online tutoring experience.

Commit to the program

The first lesson is not the whole program!  Don’t expect it to suffice.  Be consistent by attending all lessons.  Be prepared.  If you are supposed to be doing something outside of the face-to-face lessons, make sure you have completed (or at least attempted) all tasks.  Write down any questions, so you don’t forget them.  Turn off or reduce all distractions.  If the instructor is talking to you, the session should not be interrupted constantly by irrelevant texts, calls, or other open programs.  Focus on the lesson.  After all, that’s why you signed on!

Here is a recap:

1.   Find a tutor – research

2.  Get in touch – have an online meeting

3.   Ask questions

4.   Feel comfortable? Register for lessons (plan for a reasonable number)

5.  Enjoy the first lesson – relax, get used to the technology

6.   Commit to the program – be consistent & prepared

The best point of all is that you have options that never existed before.  Take advantage of them.

Need more help, please feel free to get in touch.

Tutoring Central blog

Website: www.tutoringcentral.com

VideoJump Into Online Tutoring – It Works!

How Do I Make My Writing Sophisticated?

But, how do I make my writing sophisticated? 

I hear these kinds of questions, especially from high school or university students.  They feel that their writing should now “sound” more intelligent, so they add all kinds of words, clauses, and phrases that tend to do quite the opposite!

Here are better ways to improve the quality of your writing:

Make your writing clear. light-bulb-clear-bayonet-fitting-725x544

Make your writing concise.

Make your writing understandable

Provide support, detail, explanations, anecdotes, and so forth to help the reader understand your argument, point of view, or opinion. Spend time to fully understand your own thoughts and connections to the material so that you can write about the ideas intelligently.

These are far more important than complicating the issue.

When students, or any writers for that matter, force their writing – the quality becomes worse.  Making something “sound” more complicated than it really is does not help the reader (or the teacher ) in any way.

Your ideas can be original and attractive, but they don’t need to be mired in arcane language or complicated sentence structures that lead the reader nowhere.

I have read students’ essays that aim to impress, but the writing is so convoluted that the meaning is lost.  When I ask them to explain, they often say, “I’m really not sure what I meant, but doesn’t it sound good?” Their hope is that the teacher or professor will find something in that mess to admire.  This is a very poor method!Ernest Hemmingway

Some of the best writers, in fact, make a concerted effort to ensure that their writing is as uncomplicated as possible. That does not mean “dumbing-down” (as one of my students said to me recently).  It means that you are doing your job to help the reader comprehend your intentions.

It is the ideas and thoughts that are important.  You want the reader to be impressed, or at least persuaded, by your argument, opinion, or description.

If the reader does not understand your work, he or she will not be impressed.  (Although I have heard people say, “He must be a great writer, I couldn’t understand a word of it!”)

Work on sentence structure and grammar.  Make sure you follow the basic rules and conventions of writing.  Don’t think of the rules as restrictive. Recognize that they actually free the rest of your mind to be creative in thought, networking ideas, and expounding upon your take on a particular topic.

Want a place to start?  Try these discount coupons, and I will help you.

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Brush up on the basics and apply them well, and you will see higher grades.  Better yet, the quality of your writing will continue to improve.

Of course, as you become more proficient, you might notice that your sentences are longer and more “sophisticated,” but they retain the clarity of purpose as well.

Most of all – keep writing!

As with any skill, you get better with practice, especially if you pay attention to the weak spots.  Try to take on constructive advice and make the necessary adjustments to keep reading-86070_1920improving.

For more information, lessons, and programs check out the website.

Website: www.tutoringcentral.com

This week’s video:  “How Do I Make My Writing Sophisticated?”

Register for the FREE  Student Survival Guide – How to Become an A+ Student

Run-on Sentences Ahhhh!

Run-on Sentences Ahhhh!  emotions-2167461_640

When you proofread and edit your work…

WHAT!

Yes, you should always proofread and edit your work. Do not be afraid of putting a little extra effort in.  It will pay off in the long run.

Let’s try that again, shall we?

When you proofread and edit your work, watch for run-on sentences, and make the necessary corrections.

A run-on sentence is basically two or more sentences written as if they were one.

” Once upon a time, there was an evil tutor named Ron he always asked us to proofread and edit our work even when we thought our sentences and spelling were perfect he is so mean.”

The sentence above should actually be three sentences instead of one.  Look for subjects and predicates and any connections.  (If you are not sure about subjects and predicates, check out my Basic English Writing course.)

For example, this sentence is a run-on:  “Susan loves to dance she loves the movementbalance-3223319_640 she is so graceful.”  (There are three separate subjects and predicates incorrectly joined.)

Here is a possible correction: “Susan loves to dance because she loves the movement, and she is so graceful.”

You can see that it is still one sentence. The subordinating word “because” and the coordinating conjunction “and” with a comma correct the problems in the first version.

Many students think that a run-on sentence is simply a long sentence.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  Some very long sentences are not run-on sentences.  If the phrases and clauses are joined correctly and all well related, then there is no problem with being long.

Also, a short sentence can be a run-on sentence.

For example:  “He fell down he cried.”  This short sentence is a run-on.

Here are four solutions:  “He fell down.  He cried.”cry-2764843_640

“He fell down, and he cried.”

“He fell down and cried.”

“He fell down; he cried.”

(Most teachers don’t like joining independent clauses with a semicolon, so I recommend avoiding this method, although it is technically correct if the clauses are very short and closely related.)

Note that my sentence within parenthesis is fairly long, but it is not a run-on!

A full sentence should be one complete thought.  Of course, you can have many adjectives, adverbs, and even clauses and phrases that add interest to your sentence. They must, however, be incorporated correctly.

When proofreading your work, watch for run-on sentences, and use one of these methods to edit:

  1. Separate the independent clauses (sentences) with end punctuation.
  2. Use a coordinating conjunction (for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so) to join them.
  3. Use a conjunctive adverb such as “however” or “therefore” to join them.
  4. Use a subordinating word such as “although’ or “because” to make one of the clauses dependent.
  5. Rewrite the sentence so that one independent clause (sentence) is turned into a phrase, adjective, or adverb.  (Note example above could become:  “He fell down crying.”)

Need more help?

Contact me to set up some personal programs for you or your child.

Don’t forget the Basic English Writing course.  Register, and you will receive discounts for several of my other courses, too! Tutoring Central blog

Website:  www.tutoringcentral.com

E-mail:  www.tutoringcentral@inbox.com

This week’s video:  Run-on Sentences

Topic Sentences – Location, Location, Location!

Topic Sentences – Location, Location, Location!

At the beginning.

In blogs, videos, and my courses, I have often mentioned that the topic sentence of a sunrise-1756274_640paragraph should be at the beginning of the paragraph – often the first sentence.

While this is true in many cases, it does not HAVE to be the first sentence of a paragraph.  When writing essays for grade school or secondary school, teachers generally expect the topic sentence of body paragraphs to come at the beginning. The concluding paragraph has a restated or modified thesis statement at the beginning, and this serves as its topic sentence. Of course, the introductory paragraph is a bit of an exception.  It often starts with a “grabber” and/or focus statement, and the thesis statement (serving as the overarching topic sentence) comes at the end of the paragraph.

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For most stand-alone paragraph writing exercises in school, the expectation is for a topic sentence at or near the very beginning of the paragraph as well.

Whew!

Having said all that, topic sentences can come at any point within a paragraph – even in academic writing at times.

At the end.

You can place the central idea at the end after several supporting sentences that have end-812226_640made the case for your argument or point of view. This can be especially useful in argument paragraphs because it leads the reader to your conclusion drawing them in with your amazing proofs and supports.

You knew you were amazing, right?  Of course.

Placing the topic sentence at the end of your paragraph can be effective in expository paragraphs as well. Leaving the central idea until the end can have a dramatic effect that attracts the reader to keep reading.

Of course, even if your topic sentence or central idea is withheld until the end of the paragraph, you still need to ensure that you have unity and coherence.  All the supports that come before the topic sentence need to be relevant and transition from one to another in order for the whole package to have the desired impact on the reader.  Remember that you have to “lead” them to your central idea and convince them with your message.

Nowhere – and everywhere.

Even more bizarre!

Some paragraphs don’t have the central idea explicitly stated at all! nowhere

This is often the case with narrative writing (relating a sequence of events) and sometimes descriptive writing.  This is especially true in fiction writing where many academic rules are “stretched” or broken.  You can imply the central idea with descriptions, action, dialogue, and so on. This is not to say that you never use topic sentences in fiction, but one topic sentence might serve several paragraphs rather than just one.  The continuity is important and, frankly, trying to generate a new topic sentence in the midst of a “flow” of description does not always make sense.

There you have it.  Topic sentences are not as stable as you thought.  They can move around from place to place.  Sometimes there are a couple of introductory sentences before a topic sentence as well.  Generally, I wouldn’t say the topic sentence comes in the middle of a paragraph, but it can be within it.

Still, for most academic writing, I recommend sticking to having the topic sentence at the beginning of most paragraphs.  It will serve you well.

When writing fiction, you have more freedom – but keep in mind that you still need to help the reader find your central idea using whatever techniques you choose.

Do you want to write more?  Do you want to improve your writing? Contact me, and I will set up a personal program for you. reading-86070_1920

Website: www.tutoringcentral.com

This week’s video: Topic Sentences

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Frustrating Punctuation? Here is the solution.

Punctuation Made Easy!

Alert: Check out the awesome offer below.

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Does punctuation sometimes drive you crazy?

Maybe, maybe not; however, a lot of people have difficulty knowing when to use a comma versus a semicolon.

What is a colon, anyway? (No, I’m not talking about the one in your body. Yuck.)

How do you use quotation marks correctly?  Wait! What!  There are double quotation marks and single quotation marks?  Nice way to make things even more difficult.

Writing well includes the proper use of punctuation.  I have read many stories and articles, including essays, speeches, and book reports, that have many great ideas and some excellent development; however, I have to re-read many of the sentences because they are not punctuated properly.

Any teacher, professor, or – for that matter – reader will tell you that he or she prefers to read a sentence only once before moving on.  Nobody wants to have to “decipher” what you meant to write.

If you want to start raising the grade TODAY, then learn to punctuate your sentences correctly, particularly when writing longer articles because they are the most challenging to read when they are not punctuated well.

As I mentioned in a previous blog, keep it simple!  Complicating matters does not help the reader, the teacher, the professor, the editor, or you.

Of course, as you become a better writer, you will use more complex writing, but you will do so with the tools to make it easy to read and to comprehend, regardless of its complexity.  Like any professional, you make it look easy when you really know how to do it.  One of those tools is knowing how to use punctuation.

So, don’t let punctuation drive you crazy any longer. normal_crazy_mean_dog

Here’s the awesome offer!

$10.00

The Punctuation Made Easy course is in its final stages of development.

It will launch in October, and I have set up a pre-sell price of only $10.00!  (The listed price after launch will be $40.00.)

But wait there’s more!  (Okay – a bit cheesy, but there really is more.)

Register for the Punctuation Made Easy course and receive the following:

FREE:  

Upon registering:                       Student Survival Guide (32 page downloadable book)

After beginning the course:   Test & Exam Strategies course ($20 value for FREE)

Bonuses:

You will receive discount coupons for three more optional courses:

  • Basic English Writing
  • Paragraph Writing
  • Essay Writing

                       All this for $10.00  Register Here!

Punctuation Made Easy

This course will help you improve your writing. With the right punctuation, your sentences and articles will shine! Step-by-step lessons and quizzes will solidify your knowledge.

Work at your own pace, own space, and own time.

Although the course is asynchronous, I do answer questions.

I also schedule free online question/answer sessions. (Optional)

 Over Twenty Lessons + quizzes

  • Introduction
  • End Punctuation – 3 lessons
  • Comma – 9 lessons
  • Semicolon
  • Colon
  • Apostrophe
  • Quotation Marks – 3 lessons
  • Other punctuation – dash, parenthesis, brackets, ellipsis, slash
  • Concluding bits

Don’t forget to register – the deal only lasts until launch!

This week’s video:    The Punctuation Made Easy course.

Remember, I would love to be your coach.  Check out the website or get in touch for further options and learning experiences.

Website: www.tutoringcentral.com

 

Master the Compound-Complex Sentence in Your Writing

Master the Compound-Complex Sentence in Your Writing

I have written so far about three different kinds of sentences based on structure: the simple sentence, the compound sentence, and the complex sentence.

Today is for the compound-complex sentence.evan-dennis-75563

What is it?

You might well have guessed by now.  A compound-complex sentence combines the compound sentence and the complex sentence kinds.

It has at least two independent clauses and one or more dependent clauses.

(Of course, it can include phrases just like all the other sentence kinds.)

These sentences tend to be longer simply because of the number of clauses they contain. But don’t depend on only the length of a sentence to tell you what it is.  A simple sentence with lots of adjectives, adverbs, or phrases can be quite long.

Properly punctuated, the compound-complex structure gives you lots of flexibility. With these sentences, you can manipulate the clauses (& phrases) to create stronger beginnings or endings, to enhance the most important point, or to artistically accentuate a detail or description. The options are nearly endless.

Note of caution:  This is not the “Best.” There is no “Best.”

All four kinds of sentences have equal intrinsic value.  The point is to use a variety of them in your longer writing.  The goal is knowing how to intermingle simple sentences with compound-complex sentences, introducing a few complex sentences with a couple powerful compound sentences so that they all complement each other.

Examples

Here are some examples of compound-complex sentences   (independent clauses in green / dependent clauses in blue):

#1SONY DSC

Whenever he hears the train whistle, Bob runs to see the train, and he often takes photographs as well.

#2

Sharon, who is an expert knitter, makes sweaters for her grandchildren and she loves watching the children open the presents at Christmas time.

#3file00092974169

The building of the bridge was delayed after the workers went on strike, but the end result was still an amazing work of art.

No FEAR!

Don’t be afraid to experiment with varying your sentences. Practise, practise, practise!

Reading your text aloud will often signal any changes you might need to make to help with the “rhythm” of your article. It is beneficial to have an article that reads smoothly.  It helps the reader scan and comprehend your message.  Also, it makes the writing process more enjoyable if you take a somewhat artistic approach while still following the technical rules.  While there are lots of rules and conventions in the English language, there is also lots of room to maneuver and create.

When you are ready, don’t hesitate to contact a coach to help you along.

Here are my contact details.  I would love to assist you in your journey.

Website: www.tutoringcentral.com

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For more tips, check out this week’s video:

Master the Compound-Complex Sentence