Approaches to Reading and Writing

Open to students entering grade 9 or 10 in the fall
I - June 25–July 13, 2018
II - July 17–August 3, 2018
Days & Time:
Monday–Friday, 9:10 –11:00 a.m. and 1:10–3:00 p.m.
Peter Conolly-Smith, Brett Shanley, Renee Tobin, Karen Vrotsos, and Kristin L. Wolfe

“I feel like I have vastly improved my reading and writing skills, and I am excited to see how I will do with these new skills in school next year.” — Joey Farrel 

Course Description

A two-course curricular option for students interested in developing their ability to write an argumentative essay and sharpening their academic and critical reading skills in order to meet the demands of advanced study in high school and college. Each course meets daily, one in the morning, the other in the afternoon.

Writing Expository Prose

The process of writing is emphasized as students learn to write through a "building block approach" which concentrates on how relatively simple meaning relationships and rhetorical strategies within an essay combine to yield intricate and sophisticated results. Attention is paid to developing skills in grammar, diction, usage, syntax, and punctuation.

Critical Reading and Study Skills

Analyzing fiction and nonfiction trains students to identify and critically respond to the messages conveyed by different kinds of writing. Emphasis is placed on understanding how formal characteristics such as rhetorical strategy, point of view, and diction condition the reader's perception of content. As students learn to read critically, they also acquire techniques for effective study and research. Study-skill sessions and tutorials teach practical skills such as note-taking, outlining, summarizing, preparing for examinations, managing time, and using research tools.


Peter Conolly-Smith

Peter Conolly-Smith received his Ph.D. in American Studies from Yale University. He has worked extensively in fiction and documentary film and teaches history, culture, and film at CUNY-Queens College, where he received the 2009 President's Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching. He is the author of Translating America (Smithsonian Press, 2004), as well as numerous academic articles on ethnicity, culture, film and history.

Brett Shanley

Brett Shanley is a Ph.D. student at Columbia University's Teachers College in the field of English education, with particular interests in semiotics, knowledge acquisition, and the role sincerity plays in student writing. He holds an M.F.A. in creative writing from The New School. Brett has worked in journalism and taught courses in creative and academic writing at various institutions, and he currently teaches composition and literature at Pace University.

Renee Tobin

Renee Tobin holds a B.A. from Dickinson College, an M.A. in curriculum and teaching from Columbia University’s Teachers College, and a Ph.D. in language, learning, and literacy from Fordham University. Having worked as a learning specialist in a number of private schools in Manhattan, Dr. Tobin is currently one of the principals of East Side Counseling, Tutoring and Testing, which offers a wide range of psychological and educational services to children of all ages.

Karen Vrotsos

Karen Vrotsos holds a B.A. in English and political science from Wellesley College and an M.A. and M.Phil. in English from Columbia University. She has taught literature, critical reading, and writing at Columbia College and Barnard College, and professional writing and public speaking at Columbia’s School of International and Public Affairs. Her interests include classical literary theory, renaissance literature, modernism, cultural criticism, and the essay. Her interest in civic leadership development led her to direct a fellowship program for urban leaders at Columbia for several years. She has also coauthored a book on marketing and culture with Professor Bernd Schmitt of Columbia Business School.

Kristin L. Wolfe

Kristin L. Wolfe is an MFA student in nonfiction writing at Columbia University. She holds an M.S. in secondary education from St. John's University and a B.A. in English from the University of San Francisco. Kristin has taught English composition, creative writing, and humanities courses in public and private schools in New York City and Connecticut; managed various award-winning student publications; selected numerous students for the New England Young Writers Conference; and assisted with hundreds of college admissions essays. She writes book reviews for Publishers Weekly and cultural essays for various publications, and she has recently completed writing her first young adult novel.

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Specific course detail such as hours and instructors are subject to change at the discretion of the University. Not all instructors listed for a course teach all sections of that course.