Show, don't tell!
April 19, 2011 6:43 PM Subscribe
Tutoring two 2nd-grade students in writing more creatively. I'm a creative writing grad student, so no sweat right? Wrong. Their first language isn't English.
posted by joyeuxamelie to education (10 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I currently tutor writing on the side to graduate international students. It's a great way for me to supplement my own puny grad student paycheck. Most of the time, what they seem to want to learn to write more expressively and creatively.
One of my students referred her friend to me. This friend has been living temporarily in the US for almost a year, while her husband does visiting professor work at my university. Her children, who are 2nd graders, have been attending their local elementary school in the meantime. She wanted me to tutor her children in writing -- specifically, writing more creatively/expressively and learning how to write stories.
Last week was my first session with them. I *quickly* learned that teaching children to write is REALLY HARD. Especially when English is not their first language.
It's not that they have poor vocabulary. In fact, the girl sibling writes surprisingly well for a second grader who has only been in the US for less than a year. Seriously. She writes better than a lot of second graders, I'm thinking. In about 25 minutes, she wrote a 2 page story about Tinkerbell falling into a hole in a cave and her subsequent rescue.
The boy writes well too, just not as well as his sister. And he tends to forget/misuse articles (a/an/the). It's really difficult for me to explain why/how/when to use an article to him.
Another thing: I feel that one of the most important rules in writing, especially story writing, is "show, don't tell" but when I try to explain that to them, I'm not sure they understand what I'm trying to say.
That's my biggest problem. I don't know if they understand what I'm explaining. If I say, "do you understand?" or "does that make sense?" they just nod 'yes'. Which of course, every little kid does. (I did that a lot when I was little too.) I'm worried that since I'm used to teaching college students, my explanations might not be clear/simple enough for these 2nd graders. I have little brothers about the same age, but I don't really handle their education stuff, so I can't say I have a lot of experience in that area.
I'd like some suggestions on how to teach article usage/grammar to 2nd (ESL?) students and also some creative writing activities appropriate to their age/level. And are there ways I can make story writing seem more fun/exciting? The girl seems to enjoy it, but the boy directly told me that he dislikes it. I asked him why and he said "Because you have to think and write." I have a bunch of small circus figurines on my desk (I tutor them in my cubicle), and so I had him pick out individual figurines and craft a story around them, which he seemed to enjoy. So, how can I continue this? (He's really into Star Wars, if that helps).
Also, just FYI, I tutor them separately, so I can address each of their needs separately. Each tutoring session is 40 minutes long. So, suggestions for creative writing activities that can be completed within that time period would be appreciated.
Sorry for the long post and thanks!