Posts Tagged ‘writing tutoring’

Episode 73, Five Grammar Tips Every Student Should Know

On this episode of The Prepped & Polished podcast, Alexis Avila lists five grammar tips every student should know.

  1. Always use active voice
  2. Wordiness
  3. Serial comma vs. Semicolon
  4. Apostrophes
  5. Quotation Mark Placement


ep 73 five grammar tips

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June 24th, 2015
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Five Grammar Tips Every Student Should Know Infographic

Good grammar is an essential skill for every successful student, but the number of grammar rules to remember can be dizzying. Here are five essentials to help you up your grammar-game, especially when it comes to writing.

grammar1

Five Grammar Tips Every Student Should Know: click here for Infographic (PDF).

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June 15th, 2015
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Five Grammar Tips Every Student Should Know

Five Grammar Tips

Good grammar is an essential skill for every successful student, but the number of grammar rules to remember can be dizzying. Here are five essentials to help you up your grammar-game, especially when it comes to writing.

  1. Always use active voice.
    In the active voice, subjects of a sentence perform the action expressed in the verb. In the passive voice, this is reversed, and the subject is acted upon. Using the active voice makes your meaning clearer to readers, and helps you omit another grammar faux-pas…
  2. Wordiness
    It’s easy to get caught up in writing and include more words than you actually need. Never use two words where one will suffice, and strive to omit unnecessary details, adjectives, and adverbs.
  3. Serial Comma vs. Semicolon
    Never forget to pay attention to your punctuation! When it comes to lists, serial commas are used for three or more items. A semicolon is reserved for joining together two related ideas.
  4. Apo’strophes’
    Apostrophes are only used to show possession or missing letters in the midst of contractions. For example, in “it’s”, the apostrophe stands in for the dropped <i> of “It is”.  Alternately, in “Mary’s  book” the apostrophe is used to show that the book belongs to Mary. Apostrophes are only used with in plural words in the case of plural possessions, such as the “the students’ books”. They definitely don’t belong in the middle of a sentence!
  5. Quotation Mark Placement
    Make no mistake, periods and commas always go inside a pair of quotation marks! However, a dash, semicolon, exclamation mark, or question mark goes outside the quotation marks if the quotation marks do not encompass the entire sentence.

With these tips on your side, your grammar will improve by leaps and bounds!

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June 2nd, 2015
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There/Their/They’re? How to Avoid a Common Grammar Mix-Up Infographic

If there’s one grammatical error that tends to trip people up again and again, it’s when to use there, their, or they’re. Here’s a helpful, colorful, and fun visual infographic to help you remember when to use which word.

There-Their-They're

There/Their/They’re? Click here for Infographic (PDF).

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March 24th, 2015
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Episode 52 : Dr. Bonnie Singer, Teaching Students to Overcome Challenges with Their Writing

Listen to Bonnie’s interview on Soundcloud

On episode 52 of The Prepped & Polished Podcast Alexis talks to Dr. Bonnie Singer. Bonnie is founder and CEO of Architects For Learning, which provides educational intervention and assessment services to underperforming students in grades K-12 as well as teacher education in instructional methods for teaching literacy nation-wide. She is co-developer of EmPOWER, a method for teaching expository writing, and Brain Frames, graphics for supporting language, learning, and literacy. Bonnie is author of numerous publications on methods for assessing and teaching writing, reading, listening, speaking, executive functions, self-regulation of learning, higher-level thinking, and critical literacy skills. On today’s episode, Bonnie talks about challenges students face with writing, and why writing is hard for so many people, why kids struggle with it, why teachers struggle to teach it, and how it relates to reading.

Enjoy, Thanks for Listening and remember at The Prepped and Polished Podcast, We Empower You to Take Control of Your Education!

ep 52 Bonnie Singer

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March 19th, 2015
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Cathy N. (Natick, MA)

“We are so grateful that we found Prepped and Polished online tutoring services, and that Alexis set us up with our ISEE and Writing tutor, Terri! Terri, you have been such a huge help for our daughter—both in her confidence level and her academics!!! We can’t thank you enough!!!”

December 13th, 2013
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Jane B. (Natick, MA)

“Last year our son had received B- grades on his essays and I knew he could do better. His teachers didn’t seem to help. After P&P, our son received an A three or four times for the remainder of the year in essays for English and History classes. I believe the sessions also improved his writing for his Finals!”

November 13th, 2013
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Beth M. (Holliston, MA)

“Amy has been a tremendous asset in improving Ben’s writing and organization of his thoughts. I wish I had thought of having a tutor for him a few years ago. Regarding the SAT prep Amy did with Nick and Ben, a lot was covered during the 6 or so weeks that she worked with the boys and again, great results. Amy had a great connection with both boys and got to know each of their learning styles very quickly. She is laser focused when she is here and keeps the lesson moving. Both Nick and Ben enjoyed working with her and felt they gained a lot from her tutoring. Thank you again for everything and your flexibility with the SAT prep scheduling.”

November 4th, 2013
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Executive Functioning Building Blocks: How to Write an Essay

How to Write an Essay

Adam S. Executive Functioning Coach and Study Skills Tutor of Prepped & Polished, LLC in South Natick, Massachusetts teaches you how to write an essay. He also teaches you how to write an outline and lists steps to writing a good paper.

Five keys to a good paper:
1. Break the paper down into its component pieces, title, intro, body, conclusion, and works cited
2. In the intro, set the scene, give us a hook, state your argument, and forecast your main claims
3. Create your body by introducing your claims, explain how these claims support your argument, and create a smooth transition
4. Write your conclusion, remind us of your best points and restate your thesis. Then discuss what’s the next step in this discussion.
5. List all the sources that you used in the course of writing this paper.

online tutoring services - Executive Function Tutor

Transcript (PDF)

Full Word-for-Word Transcription

Hey, guys. Adam S. here; Prepped and Polished, South Natick, Massachusetts.
Last time we talked about backwards planning, big picture; how to look at a
big project and think about how to break it down and plan it backwards over
time. Today we’re going to really dive into a pretty common assignment that
a lot of kids struggle with: How to write an essay. For a lot of us when we
first get assigned a paper, we just have these memories of sitting and
looking at a blank piece of paper and a lot of frustrated hours spent
sitting in front of a computer just staring at an empty page. It doesn’t
have to be that way. The trick is to realize that, in a way, every paper
you’re ever going to write is the same but different. Let’s head over to
the whiteboard and I’ll show you what I mean.

Here we are, a scene that’s pretty familiar for most of us, just staring at
a blank piece of paper; no idea what to do, where to begin. How do we even
get started? The lesson that we learned last time is that sometimes it
helps if you can start at the end. What does the finished product look
like? You know a finished paper is going to have a few elements that every
paper you write is going to have. Let’s talk about what those are. First,
you’re going to have a title; every paper has a title, then there’s an
intro, a body, we have a conclusion, and then some works cited or
bibliography. Let’s break these component pieces down a little bit and talk
about what each one of them means.

This basic skeleton is going to hold true for pretty much every academic
paper that you’re ever going to write. Of course, the content will change
based on the topic, but the structure is going to pretty . . . relatively
constant. Let’s talk about what these pieces mean. First is your title;
that could be a page, it could be a header at the top of your paper. It’s
pretty simple. It gives the title of your paper, your name, date, maybe the
class title, and other pertinent information like that. The next thing that
your paper’s going to lead into is your introduction. Your introduction,
regardless of the topic, is always going to serve a similar function. There
are a few main points you always need to hit. The first thing you want your
intro to do is to set the scene. Tell me what you’re going to talk about.
Tell me where I am. Give me some context. Then you’re going to give us a
hook. Why should we read this paper? Why do I care? What’s interesting
about your take on this situation? Then you’re going to state your
argument; this is your thesis. Give me your topic. Then you’re going to
finish your intro by forecasting your main claims.

Every paper that you write is going to have maybe anywhere between 3 and 5,
depending on the length of the paper, main claims to really back up your
argument. Forecast what those are going to be. Remember, you want this to
be pretty concise and to the point. Any good paper is going to start strong
and finish strong, because people remember the first thing and the last
thing that they see.

After your introduction, you’re going to transition into your body
paragraphs. The body of your paper is where you’re going to discuss your
main claims. Each claim is generally going to get at least a paragraph,
maybe a couple of paragraphs, even a couple of pages depending on how long
the paper’s going to be. Each body paragraph should have a few things in
common. They should all start with a topic sentence; that’s where you
introduce the claim that you’re going to talk about. Then you want to
explain why that claim is important to this paper. How does it relate to
your thesis? How does it strengthen your argument? Then you want to give
support; this is where you would include quotations from sources that you
had read. If you’re writing about a specific book, this would be quotes
from the book. If it’s a research paper, these could be journal articles,
even websites. Then at the end you want to transition; you want to set the
stage for moving into your next body paragraph, a smooth transition for
introducing your next claim.

At the end of your body comes your conclusion. This is your chance to wrap
it all up. What do you want to do? Remember, you want to start strong, you
want to finish strong, so you got to make sure you have a strong
conclusion. First, you want to remind us of your best points. Hopefully,
your paper was structured such that you started with your smallest points
and closed with your biggest. You want to go small too big, and then remind
us of the best ones. Then restate your refined thesis. You gave us an
argument at the beginning of the paper. Did your opinion change? Did you
learn anything over the course of this discussion? Then tell us the next
step. What would a future paper about this topic be about? Are there any
unanswered questions? That’s how you want to close out your paper.

Then after your conclusion, your paper’s going to finish with some kind of
works-cited page or bibliography. Your teacher might have different
preferences about what format they want you to use, so make sure you check
about the rules regarding citations. There’s also a lot of great web
resources that make citing works really easy.

Now I want to take a second to talk about the importance of outlining.
Outlining is really important; it’s actually a huge time saver. It might
sound like more work up front, but if you outline well, writing the paper’s
the easy part. All you have to do is connect the dots. Now you know that
this is the basic skeleton of, really, any paper you’re ever going to have
to write. They’re all going to be different, but they’re also all going to
be kind of the same.

For example, let’s say we had to write a paper about our best vacation
ever. We’d have an intro. What’s the scene? My vacation. Where’d you go? I
went to Hawaii. Set the scene; tell me what Hawaii’s like. What’s the hook?
What happened in Hawaii? What’s really exciting? What’s your argument? My
argument is that this was the best vacation ever because . . . then
forecast your main claims. It was the best vacation ever because I surfed,
I learned something, I made a new friend. Then you go and talk about your
claims. Claim 1: I surfed. Claim 2L learned something. Fill in what you’re
going to talk about with details about each point. Then you have your
conclusion. Main points: Great vacation for these reasons. Refined thesis:
I learned that although this was a great vacation, it wasn’t as great for
the reasons that I thought it was. I learned something. My opinion changed.
Then give me the next step, what’s the next discussion about this argument?
Maybe next time this is the vacation I’d like to take in the future. You
plunk those points into this skeleton, and now all you have to do is sit
down and connect the dots and you have a paper.

How do you plan for a paper? What are the basic steps? We talked about the
skeleton and what goes into a paper. How do you break that up over the
course of a week or 2, or 3? There’s some important steps to writing a
paper. The first thing you have to do is research, if necessary, if you
need to research your topic before you write about it. Then you want to
write your outline. Then you want to write your first draft. Don’t hand in
your first draft. It’s really important that you take the time to
proofread, revise, and make edits. You want to give yourself enough time
before the paper’s due to be able to do that. You’ll have a much better
paper in the end. After the first draft, you want to make edits and revise
it as necessary. Then you have your final draft, including your works
cited.

All of this is going to take time. That’s 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 items. If we had 2
weeks to get this paper done, we’d want to backwards plan. Start at the due
date and count backwards. Say you have 10 days between now and then; that
means you can assign 2 days to each of these points. You have 2 days to
research, another couple of days to outline it, a couple of days to work on
your first draft, a couple of days of editing and revising, and then your
final draft is done, no sweat.

Those are the basic steps of writing a paper, a road map of how to get
there. Hopefully, now you can see how every paper is the same but
different. You never have to write your first paper again. If you can
remember this road map, you’ll always know where to begin, where you’re
going, and how you’re going to get there. See you next time.

What is your current process for writing an essay? Which of our essay tips did you find most useful?

Post your tips/comments below.

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October 8th, 2013
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