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Emmelynn J.
Music Teacher, Future ESL and Elementary Teacher
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Writing
TutorMe
Question:

How can I compose an effective thesis statement?

Emmelynn J.
Answer:

To begin, you can write a thesis statement by using the basic format of listing your points of your paper in your thesis. For example, if I am writing a paper where I want to talk about how education should be student-centered, include hands-on learning, and include many different types of learning modalities, I could write, “Education is most effective when it is student-centered, includes hands-on learning, and has a variety of modalities.” However, there is a way to make your thesis statement even more powerful. Instead of listing your points in your thesis, create a thesis statement that encompasses all of the points. For example, I could write, “The components of one’s education are a driving force in determining the effectiveness of the education.” Then, the introductory sentence of each new topic paragraph in the body of your paper will introduce the specific point. For example, my first paragraph might read, “To begin, the extent of student-centered activities dictates the effectiveness of one’s education” or my final body paragraph might say, “Finally, a variety of modalities must be included in education in order to promote it’s effectiveness.” Your final paragraph should begin with a re-worded version of your thesis statement; do not simply copy your thesis. Include the same meaning, in the sentence but change the words to keep your readers engaged.

Music
TutorMe
Question:

How can I tell what major my violin music is in by looking at the sharps in the key signature?

Emmelynn J.
Answer:

There are a few ways to tell what major you are in by looking at the key signature. One quick way to tell is by looking at the last sharp in the key signature. In a key signature, sharps are read left to right: F,C,G,D,A,E, and B. Take a look at the last sharp in the key signature. What is it’s name? The key will be one half step above that sharp. For example, say you only have an F# in your key signature. One half step above F# is G. So, you are in the key of G major. As another example, if you have F#, C#, G#, and D#, what key do you think you will be in? You will be in the key of E, as E is one half step up from D#. Another way to figure out the key takes some more time, but will help train your ear to hear the pitches of the scale. Explore with the Whole step, Whole step, Half step, Whole step, Whole step, Whole step, Half step pattern. Your major scales will generally be created with these steps. For example, look at the notes for a C Major scale: C,D,E,F,G,A,B, and C. The step between C and D is a WHOLE step. Between D and E is a WHOLE step. The spacing between E and F is a HALF step, and so on. The notes of your major scales will have these patterns between them. To explore, pick a starting note to play on your instrument. Then, simply play the WWHWWWH pattern. Notice each sharp you play. Did you play all of the sharps in the key signature? Are you close but missing one sharp? Do you have to many? Based on your answers, pick another note to try starting from until you have BOTH the WWHWWWH pattern AND you have played only the sharps in the key signature.

English as a Second Language
TutorMe
Question:

What are appropriate ways to effectively teach intermediate ELL students about verb phrases?

Emmelynn J.
Answer:

You can begin by directly explaining to the students what a verb phrases is using vocabulary that the students will understand: “A verb phrase is a group of words that have a verb in it--even just a verb by itself can be a verb phrase.” Make sure your students understand what a verb is before undertaking this explanation. Explore different combinations of verb phrases, such as single, two, three, or four-word verb phrases. These will contain parts of speech such as adverbs, auxiliary verbs, and conjunctions. As you explore the different parts of speech that make up the phrases, create example sentences with the students. You can use pictures, make connections to students’ prior knowledge, environment, hobbies or interests, or even the students’ names. Have the students write down the sentences onto a graphic organizer. After the students listen to, read, and write down the example sentences, change the order of some of the words in the sentences. Read these aloud to the students. Ask the students if the words sound correct. Then, explain to the students that words must be in a certain order for the sentences to make sense in English. Next, you can take several text samples from reading materials that are at the students’ comprehension level. Have the students work in cooperative groups. The students must locate and highlight words that they think are verb phrases. The students also should try to explain why they think the words they highlighted are verb phrases. As this is a cooperative group activity, make sure all of the students take part in order to practice their English through both reading and speaking. As a final activity, have the student complete a task-based project. Ask each student to imagine that a friend is going to come visit him or her for a day; the friend just sent him or her a letter. Ask each student to write a reply to his or her friend. A sample prompt can be found below: Dear (Student’s name), I am excited that I will be spending the day with you! What will we do when I come and visit you? From, Your Friend Have the students use whole sentences in their answers. The students should include verb phrases to answer the friend. Once they are done, have the students share their letters orally with one another in groups of two or three. Ask the students to try to identify one another’s verb phrases as they read one another’s letters. This will give you an opportunity to listen and observe and see if any of the students may need further instruction in identifying verb phrases.

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