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Observations in the Writing Center

I have spent the last two weeks doing observations in Columbia College Chicago's Writing Center.  I have noticed a few procedures that the tutor follows to help the writer develop their writing skills.  The session starts out with the tutor asking the writer what they want to get out of the session.  After the writer explains, the tutor asks the writer to read their paper aloud.  The writer reads, and from time to time, pauses as they try to fix an error they have made.  I believe that this process of having the student read aloud is one of the most important aspects of the tutoring session.  Reading aloud helps the student hear their writing voice and identify with it.  It also aides with finding errors within the paper.  Ella, an ESL student, said to her tutor that "I found some spelling and grammar errors while reading it aloud."  Ella might not have noticed these errors if she had not spoken her written words; our brains automatically correct errors as they read so that our reading flow is not interrupted.  Since Ella read aloud, she was able to pick up on her errors and see the pattern of her mistakes.  This will help her become more aware in her future writings.

Another thing that stood out to me was that no matter how many grammatical errors there were in the paper, the tutor rarely stepped in and edited them.  The tutor would discuss grammar and tell the writer that they had some grammatical errors, but the job of revising and editing would be left to the writer.

Finally, when discussing things to possibly change the tutor always asks the writer a question to prompt further thought.  The tutor also adds suggestions on what a reader might want to hear more about.  All these procedures help the writer learn how to advance in their writing skills and also helps tutors develop the language they need to work with writers.


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