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Tutor profile: Kathryn P.

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Kathryn P.
University Tutor for three years; writing, editing, and administrative professional
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Questions

Subject: Writing

TutorMe
Question:

What makes a good thesis statement?

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Kathryn P.
Answer:

This is a question I hear a lot of students ask, so you are not alone in wondering how to write a good thesis statement! A thesis statement is a clear and concise summary of your argument and the major points you will be making. It is typically only one sentence and should appear at the end of your introductory paragraph. A good thesis statement can be thought of as being like driving directions from your GPS -- it should be clear, direct, tell your reader what kind of argument to expect and show them ahead of time what major points you will make to arrive at your conclusion.

Subject: US History

TutorMe
Question:

What does the phrase "40 acres and a mule" mean?

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Kathryn P.
Answer:

The phrase "40 acres and a mule" refers to the promises certain post-Civil War politicians made to formerly enslaved people in the United States. Specifically, General William Tecumseh Sherman proposed that every family of formerly enslaved people should receive a lot of 40 acre land and a mule to help them tend it. His proposal was supported by many politicians who had been abolitionists before the war and, of course, by the freed people themselves. The idea was that formerly enslaved people should be able to own a portion of the land that they had been forced to work for free while they were enslaved. However, the promise of "40 acres and a mule" never came to pass because after President Lincoln's assassination his successor, President Andrew Jackson, decided not to uphold the promises made by General Sherman.

Subject: English

TutorMe
Question:

What does it mean to do "close reading" for my English assignments?

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Kathryn P.
Answer:

Great question! "Close reading" is the method of reading we use when we are examining the meaning behind a text. When we do close reading, we might have to read slowly or even re-read a particular passage to understand it fully. For example, when you read something casually, you might do so fairly quickly to get a general sense of what it says, but when you do close reading you might stop to circle words you don't recognize, underline themes or symbols that stand out to you, or write questions or comments in the margins. This process of making notes on or about something you are reading is called "annotation." Once you have annotated what you are reading, you might need to do a little more research, like looking up words you don't know, or learning more about the time period you are reading about. Finally, you will want to sit down to write a few notes to yourself about your impression of the text, the things you took notes about, and how those notes helped you better understand the text or think about it more closely. This entire process makes up "close reading." It can take some time at first, but as you practice it gets easier.

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