Showing posts from September, 2009

Is an "Ideal Text" a Completly Bad Thing?

I finished reading Thomas Newkirk's "The First Five Minutes: Setting the Agenda in a Writing Conference," and I would like to discuss his criticism of what Knoblauch and Brannon call an "ideal text." On a side note, I have not actually read Knoblauch and Brannon's work yet, so I will only discuss Newkirk's definition and perspective pertaining to the ideal text. An ideal text, according to Newkirk, is the text which a teacher/tutor/consultant has in their mind during a writing conference with a student; "an image of the true version which this paper [the student's] should ultimately conform to" (308). Newkirk's main concern with an ideal text is that if a teacher has an ideal in mind, then they are likely to dominate the writing conference and not afford the student the opportunity to brainstorm, reflect and learn from their own writing and thoughts because the teacher will only be gratified if/when the student conforms to the ideal.

There's more?

We're kind of a big class, I'd like to think 12+ or so newbs that have invaded the BSU (Boise State) Writing Center. As one of the youngest, if not THE youngest consultants-to-be, I have such respect for everyone I interact with whenever I go into the Center. Even my fellow 303'ers seem bigger then life to me because they are older, wiser and more experienced. Here I am, a little 19 year old, not even a flippin' sophomore yet (like two credits away...) and I'm trying to fulfill the duties of something I find very respectable. A writing tutor. My major as an Art Educator seems slightly related to this experience, but I did it for mainly selfish reasons. One: I had the best first year of english, ever, last year with Zach Koppelmann. Two: As an education major, I wanted to get a taste for working with and helping students, however I can, before student teaching. Three: It sounded like a screamin' good time! And a good opportunity to find that niche I've been i

Thanks Everyone!!!!

My sincere thanks to Annie, April and Michelle who replied to my peer-tutoring questionnaire! Your feedback is all so great that it has me super excited to start drafting my research paper. (Only an English nerd would be excited to write an 8 page paper!!!) That being said, if anyone else would like to respond, I would be excited to hear from you! Click on the title for a link to my original post so you can add your feed-back! Like I said, I'm new to this and can use all the help I can get! :) Wish me luck on drafting this weekend!

all things 303

In all things 303 we are learning about three effective and powerful tools. They are: active listening; facilitating; and wrapping up a session. One good way of wrapping up a session would be to have a silence and wait time where the tutor and the student take a moment to reflect on what has taken place so far in the session. Then you could easily go into a question like: "do you have any questions before we close?" that way signaling the end of the session without putting the student into a tense situation. I have not tried this personally but I have seen it done and it looks like it works.

My First Time

Yesterday at the Boise State Writing Center, two of our veteran consultants were sick, so a handful of us newbies got to do our first consultations, myself included.  I had been very excited for my first session, so of course, although I was nervous, I was eager to rise to the occasion.  So I want to tell all of you about it, because it will be a fond memory of mine for years to come! My appointment was about 5 minutes late, which only added to my nervousness.  She showed up, tattooed arms and flustered face, and apologized for being late.  I told her it was fine, explained that I was filling in for someone who was sick, and led her to a desk where we sat down.  She filled out some brief paperwork, and then I asked her what we were going to be working on.  She said that she forgot the assignment sheet, but she stumbled her way through explaining the assignment: a 6 page English 101 paper comparing and describing a language community other than her own.  I verbally established that it

Ben Reed, Reporting for Duty.

Another BSU writing intern ready to join the ranks of Peer Centered. As far as a quick introduction my name is Ben Reed and I am a Senior at Boise State University. My major is a BA in English with a Literary Studies Emphasis and a Japanese Studies Minor. With all luck I'll be graduating Spring of 2010. When I'm not working or at school I usually am doing either freelance writing or playing one table top role playing or another with my friends. I am an author hopeful, having put together my first 600 novel manuscript. It still needs to be polished but I hope to have it on the shelves one day. This week was an exciting one for me at the Center because I got to do my first consultation. I had originally expected to have a reluctant student in who "didn't know what this place is really for" but instead subbed for one of the veterans who became ill. I had been hoping to deal with a "tough" student from the get go but instead got to deal with a very nice stud

At the Edge

Oh, no! Another new intern posting on this blog! Can you tell that one of the Boise State interns' assignments was to make a post on this blog by today? I'm actually glad this assignment was given by our lovely, wondeful, genius teacher, Melissa Keith, who has, thus far, skillfully guided us lowly interns through the confusing twists and turns of working in the Writing Center. Her passion and com passion is truly inspiring, and I for one have claimed her as my personal idol. Too much? OK, I'll stop now. To be truthful, interning at the Writing Center hasn't been full of confusing twists and turns. Thanks to the friendly, welcoming atmosphere Melissa and the consultants have created in our center, it's been quite easy to settle in. I've really been enjoying my time there. It's been a month since I began working in the center, and the time has whizzed by. I've sat in on consultations, and have been furiously studying tutoring techniques outlined

Any teachers out there?

Hey Peers, I'm a new member of the Writing Center at Boise State University checking in. I'm an English major with a teaching emphasis and my goal is to teach writing to middle school students. When I applied to work in our university's center I thought it would be a perfect fit--a way of getting some experience. On our campus we have a class that coincides with our first semester working in the center to help prepare us for the world of writing centers. At first our class covered a lot of theory and history about writing centers and it bummed me out a little. I really wanted to learn about the "right way" to approach writers who need help, not about the evolution of college writing centers. It hasn't been until recently that we've begun to tackle approaches to the actual tutoring process, but I can already see I am going to learn a lot of what I'm looking for. I have been wondering though, is there anyone out there who teaches and has worked or does c


So I am a brand new tutor for Boise State; there is a ton of us on here right now isn't there! I have just finished my second consultation and I just have to say how excited I am to really dig in and get some tutoring done. My first consultation was on Tuesday, for a veteran tutor. This was a great way for me to get my feet wet, I think because I wasn't as worried about sending them in the wrong direction. Mostly because I knew they were already a strong writer. I am also in the unique situation to see how the paper turned out, for the final draft. He did an excellent job, and I was able to see how the consultation helped. My second consultation was for an ESL student, and I loved it. From all the theory I have been reading in my tutoring class and from my lit classes, working with this ESL gal really helped me solidify the theory in my head. I had to reword and break down the theory and find more common words to explain what I wanted to say, so she could understand. I th

To My Fellow Peer Tutors:

Hi everyone! I am a student at MATC in Madison, WI and am a part of a peer tutoring practicum course. This course is brand new to the college and is geared at preparing students to become peer tutors in our school's writing center. For this course, I am writing a research paper. My topic is on "The Growth of the Peer Tutor," and I am trying to find a number of peer tutors to fill out a short questionaire on their experiences in the writing center. I would love to hear from some vetran peer tutors about how they have been effected by their time in the writing center. (Or even some of you newbies, about what you've been observing.) The following is a couple of quick questions that I would love your feedback on! If anyone has the time to respond, it would be greatly appreciated. Just post your answers in the Comments section! Thanks -Angie Peer Tutoring Questionaire: 1) What is your name, and may I use it when quoting sources in my research paper? 2) How has

If You Had it to Do Over

Hi Everyone. I am Andrea. Much like the posts (bloggers) before, I am also part of the Writing Center at Boise State University--another new guy. I have thus far listened in on consultations and had the opportunity to do my first consultation a little less than a week ago. I felt like my consultation went really well. I am nervous for the next consultation though. I have spoken with some veteran consultants from our center and they said that the second one almost always bombs; it's just Murphy's Law. I have also had the experience described as a rollercoaster, presumably until the newness wears off and everything levels out. We have done some reading in our class to prepare us for the sessions, but I am curious to hear from other veterans out there in other centers. While I know that our situations may be different (i.e. small school vs. big schools etc.), I feel we are all in the same situation. If you had your first consulations to do over again, or if your now self wa

In Search of Theory

The Writing Center field is relatively new to me and I'm sure she will show me many more tactics and strategies for consultations and collaborative leaning, but as of now, I have not been satisfied with the way "theories" are being presented. I think my problem is that I have an image/definition in my mind about what a theory is (right or wrong), and it is not matching up to the "theories" within writing center publications for consultants. To me, a theory is far more than a quibble, or a call-to-arms. When I here the word "theory," I think of Kant's "Hypothetical/Categorical Imperatives," Barthes' "Dead Author," Said's "Orientalism," etc. I do not view North's opinion statements and proposals to be theory (this is not to say that it isn't valuable, or unscholarly - just not theory). Of all the readings that our BSU 303 class has examined, I would argue that there is no theory (according to my definitio

Do Theory and Practice Overlap?

Like Rachel and Rob, I’m also a newbie in the Boise State Writing Center, and I’m also concurrently enrolled in BSU’s English 303 class, Theory and Practice of Tutoring Writing. For these first four or five weeks of class, we’ve been inculcated with the theory, as first formulated and articulated by the venerable Stephen North, that writing centers are not fix-it shops or skills centers, but are instead places where tutors or consultants dialogue with students about the students’ writing and thereby help the students to become better writers. To reinforce the Northian ideal, we English 303-ers have also been inundated with essays by scholars such as Lisa Ede and Kenneth Bruffee, all of which elaborate on North by describing the act of writing as a collaborative process and theorizing on the ways in which talking about things like sentence structure, organization, transitions, and revision actually help students to become better writers. While I have observed many writing-center cons

I'm Sorry, Did You Want to Hold That?

Hello, peers. I'm another new member of the Boise State Writing Center consulting team, which means I'm also a student in the fabulous tutoring class BSU offers its writing center newbies (yay, class!). For whatever it's worth, I think I’ve learned as much about myself these past few weeks as I have about the theory and practice of tutoring writing. Among the things I’ve learned about myself, sadly, is that I am no darn good at hearing writing. That problem will be the crux of this post. I’m hoping to get a sort of tally on consultation tactics that might guide me over and beyond my instincts in the coming weeks. Here’s the thing: I’ve got to hold the paper. If there’s a paper, I’ve got to hold it. You’ve got a paper? Give it here. Your paper = Mine to hold. I’m betting the reasons behind this instinct are many and varied, but the foremost reason is obvious: If you’re reading the paper and I can’t see it, I’m not hearing a word you’re saying. Even if the paper’s on the ta

Customer Service: The Neglected Aspect of Tutoring

I am a new member of the BSU Writing Center team and have only been observing the goings on for a few weeks. As a person who has in the past made his living from listening, helping and serving, I cannot help but write about a topic of which I believe I have ample knowledge: customer service. Now, I know you’re thinking I must be nuts but follow me on this for a moment. We are, as “tutors”, providing a service. In order to prove our services worthy and necessary, we must be willing to provide the best possible service to our “customers” as we can. That is just good business. So, as consultants, how do we practice customer service? Break down the process you use in your own center. A prospect (customer) walks in and what are they seeking? Guidance? Can we call that your “product”? So they want the best possible product for their “money” (in this case let’s say time is money.) The prospect is hoping for a good grade on their writing; which, we can look at as a “

First Experiences in a High School

Hello everyone, First, I’d like to say I’m glad to join this writing center conversation. My name is Denise, and I am an undergraduate student and a tutor at the University Writing Center at St. Thomas University in Miami Gardens, Florida. This is my senior year, and my majors are English: Professional Writing and Religious Studies. Recently, our UWC started a satellite writing center at Monsignor Edward Pace Sr. High, which is across the street from STU. Another tutor, Leo, and I visit Pace two days a week, once after school and on Friday mornings to help with the writing classes. I had my first tutoring session at Pace on Friday morning, and I did not know what to expect. Although I have been tutoring at STU’s UWC for a year, this felt different–it felt like unknown territory. When we got there, we walked into a classroom full of students, introduced ourselves and started walking around and helping students with their assignments. They were working on writing either of two things: 1)

We're famous!

Jackie Grutsch McKinney has mentioned PeerCentered in her new Writing Lab Newsletter column "Geek in the Center" ( WLN , Vol 35, No. 1. 7-9. Print.). It is good to see that WLN will more prominently feature uses of technology in writing centers. That is not to say, however, that WLN hasn't always been at the forefront of exploring the uses of technology for and in writing centers. WLN , in fact, has pioneered much of the scholarship in the uses of technology in our field. I might note that this issue is teaming with tech articles, given that the lead piece is about podcasting. PeerCentered too has a podcast that needs a kick in the pants. Any takers?