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IWCA Forum: Peer Tutor => What do we call ourselves: the poll!

I have posted a poll in the IWCA forums: IWCA Forum: Peer Tutor => What do we call ourselves: the poll! It is a part of an earlier discussion that kind of petered out about the titles used for writing center workers. Please take a moment and vote! If you don't have an account on the forum, you can register for one by clicking on the "Register" link (next to the rocket icon in the top-right of the page.) Don't forget to state your institutional affiliation when you request and account. (That's how the IWCA Forum keeps out spam accounts.)

PeerCentered Podcast 1.4: A Defense of Minimalist Tutoring

Episode 1.4 is in the can! It is a recording made at NCPTW 2006 and is "A Defense of Minimalist Tutoring." Thanks to Harvey Kail, Shannon Dohar, Hannah Lauterback, Emily Morrissette, and Rosalie Sullivan for allowing me to record it. I have refrained for apologizing for the poor audio quality simply because there is not much I can do to make it better. Click on the podcast link on the right to go to the podcast page.

Oshkosh Northwestern - Emmeline Cook focuses on literacy

Todays' Oskosk (Wisconsin) Northwestern profiles a cool educational concept for students at Emmeline Elementary school:
"'In the writing center you can write a letter or make a story for your mom and dad,' said Destinee Stevens.

While Stevens was working with her peers in the writing center, other classmates were listening to books on tape, silently reading, working on math games or practicing piecing poetry together." (Oshkosh Northwestern - Emmeline Cook focuses on literacy)
Collaborative learning in such settings is encouraging and bodes well for the future of things such as peer tutoring in the future.

2006 Ron Maxwell Award

PeerCentered friend and IWCA Vice President Michele Eodice received the 2006 Ron Maxwell Award for Distinguised Leadership at last weekend's National Conference on Peer Tutoring in Writing (NCPTW). The award is given to
a professional in the organization who has contributed with distinction to undergraduate student development through promoting collaborative learning among peer tutors in writing.

Such leadership may be demonstrated in a variety of ways, including but not limited to: the individual's record in bringing peer tutors to present at the Conference service to the organization through hosting the Conference, serving as program chair, leading in the search for future sites, etc. aiding students in the assumption of increasing responsibility for their learning fostering leadership skills among peer tutors showing evidence of leadership in collaborative learning on one's home campus developing innov…

Mile a minute

I feel like I'm running a mile-a-minute getting ready for NCPTW this weekend. I've got a bunch of meetings this afternoon and important things to attend to in the Student Writing Center before I head out. I also need to get some stuff done for IWCA as well as preparing my equipment for recording interviews and hopefully sessions for the podcast at NCPTW. We'll see how that goes.

Anyway if you are going to Ann Arbor, see you there! If not, stay tuned to the podcast where I am going to present (I hope) a small conference experience.

Podcast 1.1: Packing for Ann Arbor

If you have an RSS feed you probably have already seen the newest episode of the podcast pop up in your favorite podcast listening software. If not, take a gander at this page. This episode, I fear, is showing my dearth of material right now. Actually I am excited about heading out to Ann Arbor and attending NCPTW, and I wanted to give listeners a sense of what I will be doing at NCPTW in regards to the podcast (recording, interviewing, etc.)

Again I want to get more folks involved in the podcast project. If you are interested, let me know at the above email address.

Writing Center Director Makes Good!

Jane Smith, Director of Winthrop University's Writing Center, has been awarded with Winthrop's Margaret M. Bryant Professorship: Smith is a scholar in composition, rhetoric and poetry who has taught at Winthrop for 19 years and created the course that trains the Writing Center's tutors. She is the third recipient of the Bryant award.

Keeping it short - Opinion

Peer writing consultants Derek Davidson and Kanaka Sathasivan offer some sound advice to readers of The Daily Texan (Keeping it short - Opinion):
It's important to write reader-friendly prose. Tight, clear sentences get ideas across better than long, complicated ones. Readers are impatient and fussy. They don't want to dig through unnecessary words to get to your point. I've been noticing a few peer-authored articles popping up in various campus newspapers. Such articles seem like a fine way of sharing writing center work and getting people aware of the writing center. Such articles, written by peers, do not suffer the "stuffed shirt" or "I'm an expert do what I say!" syndrome.

Fall Pruning

As I am going to heavily advertise PeerCentered at the upcoming NCPTW conference in Ann Arbor the weekend after next, I figure it is time for a pruning of participants who aren't participating in PeerCentered any longer. If you are a member of the blog and don't want to be pruned, either comment here or drop me an email by Friday, 3 November 2006.

"Using Weblogs in Your Writing Center"

In the latest issue of The Writing Lab Newsletter Melinda Baer writes about using blogs in the center and kindly mentions PeerCentered. The Writing Center at Northern Illinois University where Baer works has been using a private, in-house blog for a while now. Consultants post twice a week and use those posts as fodder for later discussion in staff meetings.

I am curious how other places are using blogs. Perhaps I should whip up a survey?

Peer Writing Tutor Makes Good

A St. John's University student who will be moving on to study archaeology at Kings College Cambridge has kind words about his experience working in a writing center:

Calling his senior-year role as tutor for the Writing Center “my other truly formative experience at St. John’s,” Van Hoy recalls the impact it had on his academic growth.

"The time I spent in the Writing Center was invaluable. It became my home away from home,” he recalls. “It allowed me to improve my own writing skills and realize that knowledge is useless without the ability to express it in a coherent and compelling manner.” The Cambridge scholar then reflects on his one-on-one work with the many St. John’s students whose primary language was not English. “The University prides itself on an amazingly diverse enrollment, so it felt good to help these [ethnic] students in a meaningful way,” he says. (St. John's University -- Academics & Schools -- St. John’s Graduate Takes on Archaeological Challenges a…

"Write Now!"

Utah State University Writing Center newsletter Write Now! is aimed at student writers from across their campus:
"Hi. Welcome to the Writing Center!” This is hopefully one of the first comments you will hear as you begin your session at the USU Writing Center. Nervous? Don’t be. The Writing Center is a friendly and inviting place full of people that want to help you.

Peer Tutors and the Community College

This entry is not exactly about peer writing tutoring in that I am in attendance at the TYCA-West conference in Park City, Utah. My colleague Tiffany Rousculp (of the Salt Lake Community College Community Writing Center) and I will be conducting a roundtable discussion tomorrow about writing center and writing center work. I want to emphasize the importance of having peer writing tutors work in a community college. There are difficulties that peer tutoring staffs present to community college writing center directors, but the benefits far outweigh the deficiences. For example, some might argue that the high turnover rate of peer tutors at community college writing centers is a problem. I used to worry about the turn over rate myself, but have since come to a seperate peace with it. I prefer now to see the turn over rate as invigorating in that many new students get involved in the center over time and I have the opportunity to conduct a continual staff education program.

One trou…

St. John's University -- Campus Life -- St. John’s University’s Staten Island Campus Celebrates 35th Anniversary

PeerCentered friend Harry Denny from St. John's University gets a mention on the St. John's web site:

St. John's University -- Campus Life -- St. John’s University’s Staten Island Campus Celebrates 35th Anniversary: "Most recently, an exciting new Staten Island Writing Center was constructed as part of St. John’s Institute for Writing Studies initiative. This latest advance in the University’s pursuit of academic excellence is intended to “instill and improve students’ critical thinking skills and broaden their writing proficiency,” said Upton.

The writing center, directed by Harry Denny, Ph.D., former Director of the Writing Center, Program in Writing and Rhetoric at SUNY Stony Brook, is located in Mahoney Hall on the Staten Island Campus."
Another new writing center! That's always great news.

The Enquirer - Ryle footballers help out

The (Cincinati) Enquirer ("Ryle footballers help out") has a nice piece about a peer tutoring program at Ryle Highschool in Cincinnati:
"Scott, a tailback and safety, is in his first year in Ryle's peer tutoring program. Vince, a fullback and linebacker, is in his second year.

'Everybody thinks football players are big meatheads who just like to go out and hit people, but we're not like that at all,' said Scott."and further
Deb Janowiecki runs the peer tutoring program and said the tutors also learn how similar they are to the kids they're helping."They learn that they like the same kind of social things, have the same emotions, go through the same stages and want the same things out of life," said Janowiecki.Jennifer's father, Mark Staggs, said his daughter feels a strong bond with Scott and Vince and that they've helped her feel more connected to the school.
There is usually a great deal of focus when discussing peer tutoring pr…

Good to go! Good to go!

Well the first PeerCentered podcast is officially in the can. It is all about the upcoming National Conference on Peer Tutoring in Writing 2006 (NCPTW). You can find the page link at http://bessie.englab.slcc.edu/pc/podcast/ . If you click on the podcast you will find a page that will either let you listen to the individual podcast on your computer or you can subscribe via RSS with iTunes or your favorite podcasting software. I'm hoping I can get the RSS feed to work properly.

Please spread the podcast around, as well. It is completely under a Creative Commons license.

The phone interview was interesting--it is not the best sound quality, but I have to live with the best that Radio Shack and the U.S. phone system can provide.

It would be great to have some podcast episodes that come from NCPTW 2006. If you can do better, please put something together and contact me at the email address above.

Nearly there!

Today I had the opportunity to talk to Tien-Huei Tsu and George Cooper from the Sweetland Writing Center at the University of Michigan about the upcoming National Conference on Peer Tutoring in Writing (NCPTW). I recorded the conversation and it will become, within the next couple of days, our first official PeerCentered podcast.

Now, of course, this brings to mind the original idea of PeerCentered all the way back when (1995?) which was to get as many peer writing tutors invovled in a conversation about peer writing tutoring. I certainly hope the podcast will spur some interest and that there will be folks who want to produce "episodes."

Once again, if you are interested in participating in the podcast, contact me at the above email address. You won't need to host the podcast files, and I can do final production on the stuff.

University of North Carolina Outreach to Middle and High School Writers

The Durham News | Library workshop gives students the write stuff:
"The goal of the program -- operated by UNC's Writing Center -- is to make students more confident writers. After receiving a grant from the school last summer, officials wanted to operate in Durham because of the success of similar programs in urban environments, said Julie Wilson, a teaching assistant at the center."
and
"Students published their writings in the first workshop, which concluded in May, and are now working on the mechanics of writing, such as grammar, developing an argument and introductory paragraphs. The seven-week program champions itself as a writers' group that uses tutors as writing coaches, said Kristal Moore, a writing center teaching assistant."I have particular interest in programs like this as my colleague Tiffany Rousculp of the Salt Lake Community College Community Writing Center (SLCC CWC) has been one of the leaders in community outreach for writing centers. The…

On the use of recoding technology in the writing center

iPods invade FU classrooms - News: "Last fall, Fairfield began to use iPods to record tutoring sessions in the Writing Center. Other professors simply wanted a way to create podcasts of their lectures to put on their Web sites."
Beth Boquet, Fairfield Writing Center director reported on this subject on WCENTER recently:
I really credit Vicki Russell and the folks at Duke for getting us thinking about this. They did a poster presentation at IWCA in Minneapolis last year, and our tech folks here at Fairfield have been terrific in helping us to launch the project in our Writing Center.

We have not yet sent recordings of sessions to students, though we did talk extensively in the discussion portion of the presentation about that being a natural next step. At this point, we are using it primarily for staff development--discourse analysis of segments of sessions.

I do think there are challenges...to forwarding files to students. Some of them are technical--the files are large. Sending…

Inner life of writers, anonymous

The folks at Temple University Writing Center have a really cool idea:
The TempleUniversityWritingCenter is looking for contributions to a community art project. The project is inspired by PostSecret – the internet site that invites viewers to write a secret on a postcard and send it in to be posted on the site. (Check it out at www.postsecret.com to see what we mean. But watch out – it’s addictive.) We're looking for writers, teachers, and tutors to tell us something about the inner life of writers. Do you have an epiphany, a revelation, a story, or a secret about yourself as a writer, or writers you’ve known, that you’d be willing to share with other writers? If so, write it on a “postcard,” or scrawl it on some cardboard, or paint it onto cotton, or chisel it onto stone tablet—well, okay, maybe not a stone tablet—and send it to us. The more creative the better. We will display the “cards” in our writing center and we will post photos of the exhibit on our webs…

Tutoring program a hit at Granite Bay

The Press-Tribune in Roseville, California profiles a new peer-based writing center at Granite Bay Highschool:

"Lately, Granite Bay High School students have had a potent weapon in their efforts to improve their writing and take home better grades: other students.

The brainchild of English teacher David Tastor, the Granite Bay Writing Center opened last semester with a staff of around 25 juniors and seniors.

The tutors, already identified as advanced writers, enrolled in a class called 'Students Teaching Students.'" (
Tutoring program a hit at Granite Bay)

Busy at 4Cs!

Unlike Clint, I didn't take pictures of any people, but did take pictures of Chicago, when I wasn't busy running around the convention. I went to a really interesting two-part workshop on Wednesday on special topics in Second Language Writing. (My attendance was only partly motivated by Paul Kei Matsuda's presence... really.)

I also managed to get to a few sessions on Thursday - a session on technology integration in the ESL classroom; a session on pre-service English teachers courses and mentorship; and a session on ePortfolios and Composition (the session I got to chair). I also managed to get to a session on Thursday - Directing and Re-directing Online Students' Discussion Posts. I got lucky, inasmuch as the sessions I went to all had something to offer.

Met some really nice people, too (the benefit of having a few of my professors there...)! Not that I didn't think people wouldn't be, but I was concerned that as an undergrad, few would take the time to talk …

Building community

Mickey Harris and Roberta Kjesrud enjoy the bus ride to UIC campus.

WCENTER visitors tour the UIC Writing Center

I think this might be the first-ever WCENTER Breakfast portrait.

CCCC blogging complications

Well blogging at the Cs was a bit complicated by the spendy internet prices, so I just couldn't justify it. However, I've found a free wireless connection this morning here in Chicago, so I thought I would post what I wrote for WCENTER consumption last night:

Hey all,

I know many of you were at CCCC and I could say hi to your personally, but for those of you who didn't have the opportunity, I just wanted to say that we've had a great time here in Chicago and we've had quite a few writing-center-related sessions. I've been busy jawing and having meetings with various folks so I haven't been able to attend a whole lot of sessions, but based upon things that folks have told me there were many many excellent sessions here at CCCC about writing centers. We also had a pre-conference workshop put together by Shanti Bruce and Kevin Dvorak which was universally claimed as very useful and engaging. Kevin and Shanti are proposing the session again for next year'…

Blogging the Cs

Depending on if there is free Internet anywhere in or near the Palmer House hotel, I may be blogging at CCCC. I've got a fairly packed schedule Wednesday through Friday, but I should be able to write about things. Because of my meeting scheudles, however, I will not be able to attend very many actual sessions. I'll be commenting on the possible sessions in another post.

The PeerCentered podcast crue (as we've dubbed ourselves) will be meeting to discuss podcast possibilities on Wednesday night around 7. I'm sure it will be somewhere in the Palmer House, or at least nearby. Most likey attending are Kevin Dvorak and Shanti Bruce of Indiana University of Pennsylvania and Michelle Solomon of Stony Brook. I haven't heard from a couple of other folks I've invited.

Old school

In a comment below, PeerCentered blogger Michelle notes that people might struggle with the technology of making an audio segment. While I think that would be the case if folks are trying to do it on the computer (although programs like GarageBand for Macs make it really easy), folks who want to participate could produce audio segments using older technology such as tape recorders. I can easily digitize any audio files on tapes or CDs; these segments would then be incorporated into the PeerCentered podcast envelope (if you will). I would then distribute the MP3 file on the same server that hosts the PeerCentered blog for syndication. Folks could then either use a web page interface or their favorite podcast listening software (such as iTunes) to listen to the podcast. Folks don't necessarily have to worry about the technological end of all this, in other words.

I'm going to make a page for submissions etc. I've also got a very rough "pilot" of a podcast th…

It is all about timing

So far I've put out a private call to a few folks about participating in the podcast, but will soon be putting out a public call. I have to consider timing, however, as most of the WC world's attention will thrown to CCCC in two weeks.

Timing is the key on this, I think. Then again a call this late in the academic year might just go un-noticed altogether.

Sealing Wax and Podcasts

Ok, so here is the skinny on what I am thinking about for the podcast: basically, like PeerCentered, it would be a community effort where folks from around the writing center world could create audio essays, conduct interviews, or other create other writing-center-related audio projects and I would edit them together into the PeerCentered Podcast. The purpose behind the podcast is to allow our community to share ideas in an audio media that we might not be able to share as effectively through writing alone. (Well that and it is a super cool thing to do. )

Aside from a desperate desire to be super-cool, PeerCentered has always been about experimentation with medium and trying to reach audiences over the internet in different ways. We started out, for example, as an online chat which evolved into a web board, which in turn evolved into this blog. The podcast seems like a good extension where we can share audio projects (I envision having "radio essays" akin to This Americ…

RMPTC part 2.

Well your intrepid blogger failed to even remotely live blog the second day of RMPTC. I did take some pictures, however, which I will post along with my comments here.

The started out with a nice mingling of poster sessions and breakfast. Since it did indeed snow I got to the BYU campus 35 minutes into the poster session. Luckilly I had a chance to talk to some of the folks and snap a few pictures. I then met up with feloow SLiCCkers (SLCC is fondly called "Slick" by locals) and we discussed the sessions we wished to attend. I chose to attend "trapped by Terminology: Empowering Students to Talk More Effectively about Their Writing" put on by folks from the BYU Writing Center. With clever props the session explored the ins and outs of tutor/student writer communication and how one can best rectify the situation.

We next had the pleasure of hearing Steve Sherwood's keynote address. Steve addressed the issue of humor and style in tutoring.

I then attended the Univers…

Rocky Mountain Peer Tutoring Conference 2006, part 1

Brigham Young University is hosting the 2006 Rocky Mountain Peer Tutoring Conference, which serves as my IWCA region's (RMWCA) writing center conference. Generally we have snow for the conference but since the weather in the Rocky Mountains is extraodinarily unpredictable we have windy weather with temperatures soaring to the 60s! Rest assured, however, snow is predicted for tomorrow and what with RMPTC's reputation (the great blizzards of 1996-2003) we'll be seeing the icier side of Provo, Utah tomorrow.

Today's session consisted of our Regional Business Meeting lead by Charlene Hirschi of Utah State University. She showed off the web site that her folks have been working on (sorry I neglected to write down the URL) and presented the RMWCA bylaws for the director's approval. The bylaws (with slight modification to the terms of the officers) was approved without unanimously.

We then moved on to the director presentations from Julie Clark Simon of Southern Utah Un…

They got the name wrong, but the spirit is there

Setonian Online: Writing Week to assist students: "For the first time this year, Seton Hill University (SHU) will be involved with International Writing Week (IWW) from February 12-18, 2006.

IWW is sponsored by the SHU Writing Center. Advisor Kim Pennesi stated “Everyone celebrates the event differently. SHU is planning on celebrating who we are by trying to outreach and educate people about Writing Centers with activities which they are able to benefit from.”

The idea for IWW branched from the popular International Writing Center Association (IWCA) who sponsors the week annually to countries all over the world.

The IWCA was founded in 1983 and is a continuum of National Writing Centers Association and has encouraged many schools to become involved.

Write Aid is designed to demonstrate getting-started skills, organizing, revising, and incorporating sources."

Central Michigan Life - Writing Center hopes treats attract students

Central Michigan Life - Writing Center hopes treats attract students: "CMU’s Writing Center is passing out candy, paper hearts and snacks to students all week in celebration of International Writing Centers Week.

International Writing Centers Week, sponsored by the International Writing Centers Association and the Michigan Writing Centers Association, was created to encourage the use and support of writing centers across the world."

New MTU Lode website for

Michigan Tech student newspaper reports on how collaboration in the writing center brings folks together:

New MTU Lode website for: "On college campuses across the country, there is a growing schism between American and international students, as well as between students of different backgrounds in general. At least that is what MTU Writing Center director Sylvia Matthews has been reading. Such reports are in sharp contrast though to the reality that Matthews sees every day in the Writing Center - students of different backgrounds, and often different nationalities, coming together to learn about each other and each other’s culture, with obvious interest.
As Matthews says, “There are always a lot of wonderful collaborations going on.” And never more so than over these past few weeks.
Matthews, along with Writing Center head Nancy Grimm and the Center's student coaches, have been gearing up these last few weeks for the first annual International Writing Centers week…

Community Writing Center Grand Opening

I had the honor to attend Salt Lake Community College's Community Writing Center Grand Opening last night at Salt Lake City's fantastic "library square." The CWC has been in existence for 4 years now, but they recently moved to the main branch of Salt Lake City's public library. The CWC serves the adult, out-of-school population of the Salt Lake City area. It has tradition one-to-one writing consultation (they call it writing assitance or coaching) as well as various workshops and writing projects. The new space is quite cool and being that it is at the very popular library square, I think it bodes well for participation in the Center. If you ever pass through SLC, stop by the public library and the Community Writing Center. It is well worth the visit.

This Saturday the CWC will be having its open house for the whole community.