Thursday, November 30, 2006

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.)

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

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.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

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.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

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 innovative peer tutoring programs in the home community
  • in general, welcoming and meeting new challenges in leading a center guided by a collaborative learning philosophy
Congratulations Michele!

I have a video put together of it that I will be pushing out on the PeerCentered podcast soon.

Monday, November 13, 2006

PeerCentered Podcast1.2: Nancy Grimm

Nancy Grimm gave a provocative keynote address at the just-passed NCPTW in Ann Arbor. I recorded it and with her permission I have put it out in the PeerCentered podcast. This is the first in a series of podcasts based out of presentations from NCPTW.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

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.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

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.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

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.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

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.

Tuesday, October 31, 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?

Monday, October 30, 2006

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 at Cambridge)

I've been tracking where peer tutors who worked in the SLCC Student Writing Center over the years and am pleased to report that all have gone on to very successful and diverse carreers. Contrary to what one might expect, peer writing tutors do not all go on to be writers or teachers (although some do). Several people who have worked here have gone to to business carreers, and several others into social service carreers. There are also, of course, those folks who do go into writing and teaching. We have our fair share of successful journalists and teachers in the pack.

Now, of course, it might seem that there is no connection between working in a writing center and later success, but that is not what the former SWC writing advisors think. The folks I have spoken to report that the SWC experience was highly influential in their desire to continue on with their education and motivated them to consider the various possibilities out there.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

"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.

Friday, October 20, 2006

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 troubling attitude about peer tutors at community colleges I wish to address as well is that CC students are not able to work as peer writing tutors. I have keep myself from becoming angry when I encounter such beliefs. When I do I usually spend time talking about the benefits of peer tutoring, the theory behind it as well as how having peer tutors is not "education on the cheap" but represent sound pedagogical practice. I also use the opportunity to emphasize that students who have the opportunity to work in the writing center learn quite a lot themselves.

It should be a good session and I'm really interested in hearing from other 2 year college wrting center folks and learning from their practice.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

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.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

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 programs on what the tutee gains out of the experience. It is good to see a newspaper with a broad audience explore the benefits provided to the tutors.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

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 . 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.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

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."
"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 SLCC CWC is currently conducting a similar workshop for high school students. Such community work is of great interest to those in the academic WC community. It is going to be interesting to see where it goes.

Friday, September 29, 2006

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 forwarding files to students. Some of them are technical--the files are large. Sending the entire session is not manageable--student's mailboxes here couldn't handle them. And even if they could, it's unclear whether the kind of discourse recorded in a session--with all of the fits, starts, and circling back that makes conversation both interesting and surprisingly non-linear--would be useful for students as they revise. It would be overwhelming. Editing sessions down to something more manageable takes time and would involve the tutor making decisions about which segments would be most useful to students as they revise.

So, for now, we have not shared any recordings with students, but we have found the technology unobtrusive and very useful for staff development. (WCENTER posting via Michele Eodice, 28 September 2006)
My own College has recently started a learning project with Apple. I'm quite curious to use iPods in the Student Writing Center for both staff and student writer education purposes--if the ability to send the files to the student writer were simple. Somehow I think that is the greatest barrier.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Inner life of writers, anonymous

The folks at Temple University Writing Center have a really cool idea:

The Temple University Writing Center 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 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 website:

Cards can be sent to:

Jaime Lynn Longo
Postcard Project
201 Tuttleman Learning Center (008-00)
1809 N. 13th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19122

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

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)

Monday, March 27, 2006

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 to me, and that turned out just not to be the case; everyone was amazingly friendly.

I had such a good time that on my flight home yesterday I was a bit sad to be coming back to New York.

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.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

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's CCCC in New York, so if you are interested in getting involved in that, I suggest you contact them. (Sorry I don't have their email addresses handy, but I assume they are just a Google away.)

OK, if I sound enthusiastic, it is because I, indeed, am. While I have many self-criticisms of our Board Meeting on Thursday night, I have none of our focused SIG which occurred right before it. Vice President Michele Eodice pulled together a great session where we could chat amongst ourselves in our special interest groups in the special interest group of writing centers. I, for example, had the opportunity to meet many folks, such as Harry Mosley and Sharon Masturzo, in the two-year scene whom I hadn't met before, as well as to rely on the expertise of WC professionals like Ellen Mohr and Sherri Winans (current Community College Rep for the IWCA Executive Board). Together we talked about the challenges that a two-year institution presents to writing center professionals. From what I could see, the conversations in other groups were likewise fruitful, although I would really enjoy hearing what others who participated in the groups felt.

Now as for the board meeting itself, I most enjoyed presenting the Scholarship award to Laurie Grobman, the late Candace Spigelman, and Anne Ellen Geller. (Forgive any miss-spellings of names as I am on my wacky web-based email access and cannot check them very easily--feel free to correct me). We will have pictures to post on of the reception of the awards. I honestly felt too rushed by the agenda that I had planned to pay proper respect to the award winners and feel bad about it now. My self-criticism is that I should have slowed it all down and allowed for all of us to congratulate Laurie and Anne and think back on Candace's contributions to our community. Ok--it is one of those things that I learn from in thinking back on it. Thanks to Neal Lerner and Charlene Hirschi for chairing the awards committees and announcing the awards. Anne, Laurie, and Candace(may she rest in peace), really do deserve a hearty round of applause (via email in this case) from our community.

At this time we also honored people who have contributed to IWCA as officers or editors. Most notably I honored past-president Jon Olson whose presidency I attempt to honor by immitating it, as well as the editorship of the IWCA Update of Bill Macauley. Both Jon and Bill received their plaques with surprise and self-effacement, but I was quite honored to give these small tokens of honor (I called them a pound of wood) from a very appreciative organization. I also have plaques for former-Secretary Jill Pennington and former-Vice-President James Inman. Jill served as IWCA secretary (a very tough job indeed). I feel a special connection to Jill as she was, like me, the community college representative and is committed to developing the community college contigent in IWCA.

We had many other important issues to discuss on our agenda at the meeting--, but what was brought to my attention more than any other by the end of the meeting is the idea of getting involved in IWCA. We as an organization (and I do me WE--that's you, dear reader) need to work on inclusion and getting many people involved who are already doing writing center work. I'm going to work to make sure that all IWCA members are aware of our work and the opportunities that are available to all of us (such as research grants and Executive Board at-large positions). I might note, however, that our work is a communal effort. We are all working to develop and enhance writing centers--it is us--US (I capitalize it on purpose). WE (same thing) need to work with each other to develop and understand our community.

On Friday we had the WCENTER breakfast graciously hosted by the University of Illinois at Chicago (sorry if I got the name wrong again). At the breakfast we had the opportunity to talk about various issues. The UIC folks graciously showed us their writing center and informed us of their work with not only their own student body, but also their community outreach. I was happy to join Michele Eodice (IWCA VP) and Michael Pemberton (former IWCA President) and the awesome (sorry to use such an 80's term) Bill Macauley, to field questions from the audience. In the audience were many current luminaries in our field most notably Muriel Harris, Roberta Kjesrud, Harry Denny, Nathalie Singh-Cochran, (all please forgive my mis-spellings) who grilled us about what IWCA does for its members. As Michele, and Michael, and Bill indicated IWCA offers a way of connecting and becoming a part of a community AND to share in the development of that community. I also pointed out that IWCA provides members with those networking opportunities, but also a hearty website full of userful information, support for the Writing Center Journal, research grants, scholarship awards, support for our conference and for the Summer Institute, as well as our continuing connection with the National Conference on Peer Tutoring in Writing (NCPTW).

Today I spent my time talking about how we can make the Association better responsive to the needs of our constituents and how we can have better mechanisms (for want of a better word) to maintain our mission. I have a lot of ideas, but what ideas do you have? Where are we at as an organization? What should we be doing?

I look forward to your response (I really do).

Live from Chicago, Illinois, United States of America,

(IWCA President)
More later. The podcast thing really could come together, I think. I didn't really record anything, however, so CCCC stuff is out.

Monday, March 20, 2006

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.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

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 that I might make public at some point. Basically it is a call for submissions in podcast form.

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.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

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 American Life (This Writing Center Life?) along with interviews that folks might conduct with writing center scholars/theorists/superstars and perhaps (if proper permission is given) recordings of conference sessions or speeches or whatever.)

The podcast is open to anyone in the WC community, but I would like to encourage submissions from peer tutors. I'm excited by the possibilites the podcast represents. Hopefully we'll get some submissions.

If you are interested in submitting to the PeerCentered Podcast, contact me at If I don't respond to you in a reasonable amount of time, your message has probably gone into a spam mail filter. Please comment on this posting if that is the case.

Monday, March 06, 2006

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 University of Utah's presentation on developing a tutoring manual for new tutors. I was inspired by the idea of having new tutors write a manual for the next generation of tutors. I think I will attempt this with the next round of tutors who go through training.

After lunch I went to the session from SLCC's Community Writing Center. I'm glad I went because I learned more about volunteering opportunities.

In all the conference was a success, I think. The folks who work in the SLCC Student Writing Center are still talking about it.

On a completely different front, the conference convinced me that I should pursue making a podcast to go along with this text-only blog. Basically the podcast will cover peer tutoring issuess aimed at a broad writing center audience. More on that later.

Friday, March 03, 2006

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 University, Matthew Haslam from Brigham Young, and Michael Mattison the new director of the Boise State Univesity Writing Center (Michael took over from Rick Leahy this fall--Rick having retired. We'll certainly miss Rick, but Michael is an excellent addition to our small Rocky Mountain group.) Julie discussed issues with Institutional Review Boards and how best to approach them and get research work approved. I was surprised to discover that student surveys fall under an IRB's purview. Matthew talked about discipline specific writing tutoring. Matt coordinates the Psychology Lab at BYU which specializes in working with psychology student writers. The directors discussed how generalist writing centers can function in a acadmic world that is so differentiated by various disciplines. Finaly, Michael gave a thought provoking presentation on director observation in the writing center and how we can prevent it from just becoming a panopticon, and strive for true collaborative/reflective learning in our centers.

We then sojourned to another part of the giant new building they hosted us in and had a tasty dinner of salads provided by the BYU Art Museum. We chatted informally about the peer tutoring sessions tomorrow and met with Steve Sherwood, our keynote speaker.

Penny Bird, Conference Host, is to be commended for her work.

Stay tuned tomorrow for semi-live conference blogging!

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Is there a writing center?

A nice mention from an online news source about writing centers aimed at high school students visiting campuses in the spring:
North Jersey Media Group providing local news, sports & classifieds for Northern New Jersey!: "Is there a writing center and other forms of tutoring?"

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."

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

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."

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

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."

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

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.

Dear me...

Dear me, It's not about you, but it will affect you, this work. Expect that. Learn to embrace that--the fact that your writing voice ...