So, what does the tutor do in conference if I am proposing student writer-centered conferencing? The tutor helps students clarify their meaning by posing questions such as: "What do you want to say here? I am unsure," or "What do you mean by using this word?" Another effective conferencing strategy is to have students tell the tutor exactly what they want to say at a specific point in the paper and for the tutor to paraphrase and write down the students' words. Students can then read what they wanted to say, written down in their own spoken words. This technique works especially well for students who tend to be too verbose in their writing. Another strategy Kelley used in our problem Rousseau conference was a rough concept map, with the general idea of the paper at the top and the main points and examples branching off in a few directions. These main points and ideas all come from the writer, but the tutor can teach the writer how to organize these ideas into a paper using a concept map or rough outline of this kind. This relates back to the idea Warnock and Warnock have expounded upon in their article that the tutor or teacher helps the student develop "abilities," such as sketching concept maps, that enable them to better "reshape their human experience" (57), or write a clear and focused paper.
These strategies are all an effective way for
the student and tutor to learn collaboratively, while still leaving the
bulk of control over the writing in the student's hands. When the content
or topic of a paper is too difficult or lengthy for a tutor to comprehend
during the conference, the tutor must focus on the conceptualization and
organization of the student's ideas about that topic. Here is the answer
to the question I posed in My Motivation section
about what to do with a student paper on a difficult text. Tutors need to
let the ideas be the writer's own, but can help them to organize their thoughts
into a paper that will communicate to others these same creative ideas.
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