Monthly Archives: November 2011

Essay Writing: The Introduction As a Road Map

When it comes to writing, I like to think of your introductory paragraph in an essay or a paper as the road map to your argument.  Your introductory paragraph should express your main idea very directly and very specifically.

Well-written essays and papers have main ideas that are evident from the very beginning. The message should not be unclear or cloaked in too many words. As the writer, you need to state what you will be talking about, proving, dismissing, etc. This should be clear right away. The reader does not need to excavate two paragraphs to know what you will be discussing; it’s all right there in the introduction.

In the same sense, what the rest of essay or paper will look like is evident. The writer’s next few sentences in the introductory paragraph guide the reader. Each paragraph should then bring up a new point to support the thesis statement.

Just as no one wants a flat tire on a trip, there should not be any surprises along the way in a paper. You should know what you would be getting into as a reader from the writer’s introductory paragraph. Consider it your roadmap.

For additional insights and writing support watch our blog entries. Another great resource is the Purdue OWL.



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WNY Winter Holiday Events: Rochester Area Theater

Growing up in Western New York near Buffalo meant that I never really gave much though to what Rochester had to offer, even though it was a short drive away. In the past few years, I’ve started paying more attention to Buffalo’s eastern neighbor, and I’ve been pleasantly surprised at the wealth of cultural activities I’ve found. Western New York is truly fortunate to have  not one, but two cities that have great cultural offerings!

Dickens's holiday classic still resonates with audiences today! (Image Credit:

In yesterday’s post about Buffalo holiday theater offerings, I mentioned having seen Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol staged at Studio Arena. While researching for this post, I was happy to find that the Geva theater is producing this very play, and have been doing so for some years now! I called my sister to get the inside scoop and she says the production has been fantastic in previous years. The theater offers a family value package for seeing the play, and I made sure to book my family seats. Our four-year-old is going to love this holiday classic! To take advantage of this special package, you can reach the theater at 1-585-232.4382.

There are many other great theater options in the Rochester region, and the following is a sample. Let us know if you find any other great theater events in Rochester!

A Christmas CarolGeva Theater Nov. 25th. – Dec. 24th.

Mr. Dickens is Coming – Geva Theater – Dec. 4th.

Magic in the MakingGeva Theater – Dec. 12th.

The Santaland Diaries Black Friars Theater – Dec. 16th. – Dec. 21st.

Tom Foolery – Black Friars Theater – Dec. 3rd. – Jan 7th.

Billy Elliott – Rochester Broadway Theatre League, Inc. – Nov. 29th. – Dec. 11th.

The Gift of the MagiBlack Sheep Theater – Dec. 2nd. – Dec. 11th.

(We’re not too sure what the proper age is too see the following production but looks pretty funny for adults…)

The Santaland DiariesBlackfriars Theater – Dec. 16th. – Dec. 21st.

Now it is time to work on the listings for music in the WNY area. Ho, Ho, Ho!

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WNY Winter Holiday Events: Buffalo Area Theater

The turkey is gone. The house is cleaned up. The tree is up. The cut-out cookies are baked and frosted. You survived Black Friday. The presents are wrapped. The kids had a great report card for the first marking period. OK, we might be stretching it a bit, but you still have the energy to think about and do something with the family to “get in the spirit” of the season. Plus you need a break!

These events seem to sneak up on you and can often cost a small fortune. Picking the right one is often a task since not everyone in the family likes the same thing. In the coming weeks we will scurry about and post some of the items we come across in the area.

One of our favorite types of activities to help think about the meaning of this time of year and how it reminds us of our humanity and need to love and be loved as a person, family and as part of the global family is a holiday play. Plays, and to a degree movies, help one escape their personal troubles and understand a bit about how another feels about situations that we have encountered, hope would occur for us or dread possibly ever happening to us. Plays are a great way to bring the family together and discuss the meaning that is primary for each member. It is always interesting to hear what part of the play was most memorable, had the most meaning, was the funniest, was the saddest or helped understand the meaning of the season.

In our family Studio Arena was always a great place to see outstanding performances of plays like A Christmas Story, A Christmas Carol, and local playwright Tom Dudzick’s world class plays including  Over the Tavern and Greetings!. Studio Arena is sadly a victim of the “Great Recession” and is now gone, but there are still a wealth of great theater options in the WNY Buffalo Region as the following list shows:

A Christmas StoryLancaster Opera House Nov. 25th. – Dec. 11th.

Christmas Belles Theater in the Mist Dec. 2nd. – Dec 11th.

A Class ActMusicalFare Theater Nov. 25th. – Dec. 11th.

It’s a Wonderful LifeGhostlight Theater Dec. 2nd. – Dec. 18th.

Jingle Bells, Batman SmellsTheater of Youth Dec. 2nd. – Dec. 18th.

Willy WonkaTowne Players, Sheridan Parkside Comunity Center Dec. 2nd. – Dec. 11th.

Scrooge the MusicalLockport Palace Theater Dec. 1st. – Dec. 4th.

Once Upon a Celtic ChristmasErie Community College North Nov. 25th. – Dec. 18th.

Rudolph the Red-Nosed ReindeerLancaster Opera House Dec. 16th. – Dec. 21st.

Peter PanNew Phoenix Theater Nov 26th. – Dec. 23rd.

The DeadIrish Classical Theater Co. Dec. 1st. – Dec. 18th.

Let us know if we missed any other great holiday theatre events!

Sometime later this week we will post theater events for the Rochester area and look at the holiday music scene in both areas. Remember ‘I’m dreaming of a green Christmas’ especially since my foot is broke and I can’t put on the skis or skates at the moment!

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Sunday Morning Shout Out

As we mark Thanksgiving week and get into the holidays, I need to say my  girls’ backpack “overfloweth.”   I am beyond grateful for the fact that my children go to a school where…let me stop there, can go to school. As UNESCO data points out in some countries children my girls age are working often because school is reserved for boys or the wealthy, or wealthy boys.  Knowing this, I am thankful for my girls’ school which is public, small, and focused on a nice balance of academics and extracurricular activities.

In the last five years it has gained a universal prekindergarten program that gives children a needed early boost in their school careers and time at school. By the time my youngest daughter goes to kindergarten, she has experienced the bus ride, gym, music, and library classes. In a day when some districts in our country are considering doing away with bus transportation or charging monthly fees for service, I appreciate this service and the drivers that safely get my girls back and forth from school.

John Russell / AP file

I  commend our district for not looking at the specials they offer (e.g., gym, art, music, and library) as services to cut and gut.  We know they enrich our children’s school experience. We know they make our children well rounded. We know that these activities help with reading, math, science—all of them, not to mention with combating childhood obesity and other health problems.  For the fact the school provides these educational enrichments, I am so happy. For the passionate teachers my girls have had and currently have, I cannot say enough. Every student should have such an introduction to formal learning. For the fact my children love school, for all these reasons, I am so glad.

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Dealing With Out Of School Suspension

It may not be common, but one of the most severe forms of discipline a school can mete out is out of school suspension. This experience can be tense already, but is there a way you can still keep your child’s education on track?

If you live in New York State, you need to know your child’s educational rights. The school is still required to provide your child with education, which can range from picking up and dropping off assignments at the school or even having a tutor provided. Make sure that you establish the educational expectations the school will have for your child, and communicate your own requests or concerns. If there isn’t anybody available to remain at home with your child, make sure to set up a daily schedule for completing school work. Approve the schedule before you leave in the morning, and check in on progress after dinner. Out of school suspension isn’t a vacation, and shouldn’t be treated as such.

Make sure you also communicate your expectations for the state of the house when you arrive home. If your child will be staying at home all day, make sure all messes are cleaned up. Out of school suspension is often a response to a child not living up to his or her responsibilities, so you need to really put the focus on expectations and responsibilities during the time spent out of school. You’ll probably also want to address the issue that got your child suspended in the first place. You may want to give him or her a day to cool down first, but keep lines of communication open between you, your child, the school, and any other relevant parties. If you think counseling is necessary, make sure to find out what free services the school would be willing to provide.

It may not be ideal, but your child’s out of school suspension doesn’t have to be a total disaster. Communication is the key.

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Can the Turkey Teach Anything?

Ah, Thanksgiving. Food, family, fun, and…education. Well, you probably figured out by now that this would have something to do with learning. Thanksgiving may be one of my favorite holidays, but it also offers a lot of opportunities for kids to make great memories as well as practice important skills.


Measure up the educational benefits of Thanksgiving! (Image Credit:

As soon as your child develops fine motor skills, he’s ready to start measuring! While younger children should simply be handed the proper cup or spoon, older kids can be instructed to find the correct size for themselves. If you’re feeling particularly ambitious, try making your child find the right combination of cups to make a certain measurement rather than just handing them the 3/4 cup measurement. Have them find as many combinations as possible! This can be an easy, real-world introduction to fractions, and why they’re important!

Finding Recipes

Your family probably has some old stand-bys for Thanksgiving, but there’s always room for new traditions. Help your child find a new family classic by locating a recipe he’d like to try making. Put him in charge (with lots of support), and follow the process from start to finish. Give him a budget to work with, take him shopping, and then let it cook!

Social Interactions

Knowing how to successfully interact with people is a huge part of growing up. Practice polite dinner conversation by having your child lead the “I’m thankful for…” conversation. While kid’s tables may be convenient, it also may be more beneficial to have kids sit with the adults. Rather than excluding children from conversations, let them be part of it. That doesn’t mean you have to spend all night talking about Legos and school, but part of growing up also means knowing how to respectfully listen to others having a conversation you may not be a part of or even understand!


How many chairs are needed at the table? How many plates, napkins, forks, spoons…you get the picture. Have your child practice some basic counting and party planning skills by helping with the preparations.


In the after-turkey daze, pull out some board games for family entertainment. A few personal family favorites include Jenga, Apples to Apples, and Scrabble! If you’re feeling more motivated, try making up some games of your own. Ever heard of pin the feather on the turkey?


The history of Thanksgiving is also a time to reflect on colonization in America. Rather than reinforcing the Pilgrim/Indian story, try a new approach that appreciates the themes of Thanksgiving (gratitude, friends and family) but also addresses issues in its mythological origins. For tips on how to do this effectively, try this excellent EducationWorld article.

What are some other tips you have for making Thanksgiving educational?

We here at TutorDoctor WNY wish you and your loved ones a very happy Thanksgiving!

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Developing the Love of Writing

We all know how important it is to be a good writer in life.  How do we get our children on the right path of becoming good writers? We need to make writing fun! Whether it is a new hobby, sport, or school, kids love things when they are fun.

There are many things we can do to encourage a joy of writing in young children. It helps to make writing activities a normal part of their regular routine. When you are doing your grocery list, ask them to write down some healthy snacks and a few treats they would like to buy in the grocery store. In turn, they will have their own list to help you shop at the store, which then lends itself to separate math, science, and nutrition lessons.

Get them writing by having lots of paper on hand for book making, letter writing, and thank you notes.  I don’t know about you, but when the paper or cards are pretty, I am even more in the mood to write a letter or a thank you. How about a pen pal? When I was young, it was the height of excitement getting a letter, let alone a letter from around the world, from a girl my own age. Well-known children’s magazines like “Highlights” sometimes feature a section for free pen pals for children. There are other many other online resources.   Journal writing is another great way to get children writing. Not only is it a place to practice writing skills, but also it is a wonderful outlet for your child’s feelings.

Like anything else, it helps your child do something when they see you do it. If you regularly write thank you cards or journal, they may too. When it is normal for you, it is normal for them.


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