Tutor profile: Melissa M.
How can writing foster personal and professional growth?
Writing--both creative and vocational--can help a person develop both "soft" and "hard" skills for life and work for a long time to come. Students of the craft of writing will benefit from its lessons in many areas of their personal and professional lives. The expression afforded a person through writing can serve as a creative outlet, leading to decreased stress and an increase in life satisfaction. Whether the writing takes place in the form of poetry, short story, novel, journal entries, screenplays, blog posts, essays, or letters, the voicing of one's thoughts and feelings leads to alleviating tension and creating interpersonal connections more easily. Improving communication is not only a personal boon; good communications skills can be a highly sought-after quality in the job market. Workers who keep their supervisors and peers appropriately well-informed in a timely fashion can be difficult to find, and so a good communicator is worth a great deal in the workforce. A well-versed writer may also add to their toolkit the ability to compose their thoughts in a logical, convincing, and clear manner; this is a hard skill which benefits workers in many professions. While it may seem to some that the subject of writing is only good for a middle-school language arts student or a high-schooler dabbling in an exotic elective course, writing is an invaluable art which can benefit a person in many areas of their life.
Subject: Religious Studies
Are Religious Studies still relevant to people in the 21st century world?
Many people pose this question, whether implicitly through their actions or explicitly through their words; after all, don't we live in a post-religious society? However, while much of the middle- to upper-class ranks may live in a post-Christendom culture, the same cannot be said for immigrant communities and non-white communities throughout the world. Christianity and Islam are growing noticeably in Africa and Asia in particular, and a multiplicity of religious voices have permeated the peoples of the United States; it is not unusual to simply visually encounter Jewish folks attending shabbat, Muslim and Sikh citizens holding office in Canada and the US, and Catholic folks using a rosary or a saint medallion in prayer, for instance. We are still surrounded by religious practices and people dedicated to religious teachings, even if what these communities look like and say may be evolving according to temporary needs. Tragically, it must be said that violent attacks on people because of their religion confront us regularly and force us to acknowledge that education is necessary to promote understanding, dialogue, and peaceful cooperation. Hateful acts perpetrated against Jews, Muslims, and Christians of color in the United States alone propel us to discuss our common humanity and to appreciate our differences of faith and culture. While students may not choose a vocation in ministry or elect to be a part of a worshipping community, religious studies are crucial for understanding and respecting our neighbors.
How can the skills of English and Language Arts be taught to students in a completely online environment, as dictated by current social-distancing demands?
With teachings tailored to various ages and skill levels, English and Language Arts can be creatively and soundly taught at a distance using the means of online communication. For beginning students, reading aloud remains crucial, and showing engaging pictures and the written word is easily done by holding the book up to a webcam; the teacher can encourage students to participate in reading portions of stories as they gain fluency. The teacher can upload worksheets on forming letters, learning phonics, and sounding out letter combinations; the instructor may choose to walk children through the worksheets via video, helping them practice sounding out words. Mid- to upper-elementary age students will continue to benefit from hearing chapter books read aloud and from inviting their reading participation in turns. The instructor can use repetition, pictures, and games to teach students to recognize and use words from the Dolch word list, which comprises the 220 most commonly occurring words in children's literature. In this age group, students can begin to read books independently, which the teacher will make accessible through links to electronic reading opportunities, some of which may be available through local libraries. The teacher may choose to have students give short written or oral reports on the books that they have read; students may choose to get creative by preparing multimedia presentations to present to the class. As students advance, writing assignments will change from forming letters to writing short responses to composing brief essays and keeping a journal. These writings may be posted to the teaching platform program or to a student's linked blog. In writing electives in high school, students can compose longer creative writing projects to share; in literature classes, students can continue their creative learning by acting out plays together, writing/performing skits, creating a YouTube channel for book reviews, and so on. Teaching English and Language arts at the primary and secondary school levels can still reach a high level of quality with the assurance of student attendance, and as in traditional teaching, parental involvement in online learning can multiply the effectiveness of their child's learning. In time, teachers will become proficient at using the plethora of internet resources at their disposal, and they will confidently engage their students in learning these subjects as they did when being present physically with their students in conventional classrooms.
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