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Showing posts from February, 2013

Peer Tutoring: The Essential Contact Zone

I've posted the keynote address I gave at the recent South Central Writing Centers Association Conference in Corpus Christi, Texas over on my blog, The Undersea World of Clint Gardner.  Here's a clip:
Peer tutors are a contact zone:  they are the place where change happens and change can be observed.  Bruffee, in naming his article “Peer Tutoring and ‘The Conversation of Mankind’” was onto something.  Peer tutors do build connections with other human beings beyond just helping someone learn to be a more proficient writer.  They often cross Mike Rose’s boundaries and see what it is like on the other side.  

Student-Run Writing Centers at High Schools

This just in from Amber Jensen:

Hi all,
I wanted to pass along some exciting exposure of high school writing centers in the national media:
Four high school writing centers in Northern Virginia -- the Edison, Centreville, McLean and Oakton High School Writing Centers, will be featured on the National Writing Project (NWP) Radio at 7 pm EST on Thursday, February 28, 2013.
Listen in to hear tutors, directors, and principals from these schools talk about how the high school writing center movement in Northern Virginia builds leadership opportunities and impacts writing school-wide. This show does a great job showing the energy and results of high school writing centers from multiple perspectives. We hope you will listen in and contribute to the chat room conversation!
Tune in at this link if you want to hear the live podcast: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/nwp_radio/2013/03/01/investing-in-leadership-student-run-writing-centers
The show will also be available in mp3 format after tonight i…

Writing to Learn: Reasons to Implement Writing Across Disciplines

Recently I have been doing a lot of thinking about writing across the disciplines. I am in school as an education major, specifically for middle level math and science. My work in the Writing Lab has caused me to begin to think about how I can best implement writing into my future middle school math and science classes. I think that it is important to integrate writing into all of the disciplines whether at the middle school or college level. However, if I am to be an adamant supporter of writing across the curriculum, I need to be able to answer the question, “Why is it important that students are given the opportunity to write across disciplines?” This is a question that I have never really fully considered. For myself, learning to write at a young age and in a variety of school subjects helped me to become a better, more effective writer. I become a better writer the more I write. Is this the only reason to implement writing across the disciplines? Is the purpose of writing across t…

Working with ESL Writers in the Writing Center

Have you ever worked with ESL students in your writing center before?  Have you asked questions such as:  What strategies can I use when helping ESL writers?  Is the writing process the same for an ESL writer as for a native speaker of English?  Do I need to use a different approach when helping ESL writers?
Working with ESL writers in the writing center adds a whole new dimension to peer tutoring.  While sessions may be similar in the sense that peer writing consultants help students to become better writers through a collaboration experience, the individual concerns addressed are vastly different because their language proficiency is not the same as a native speaker of English.  Issues that native speakers of English do not normally deal with arise quite frequently in sessions with ESL writers.  Ultimately, the approach is the same, but the strategies for helping ESL writers based on their individual concerns are different.
Where do we start?  In the article entitled “Tutoring ESL Stu…

The Writing Center - Official Trailer [HD]

PeerCentered Privacy Concerns

Due to privacy concerns, it is very important that we do not use names of real persons--either tutors or clients when describing sessions.  This admonition includes sessions that are positive in nature--not just the bad sessions. Please indicate in any post describing a specific session that the names are pseudonyms.  If there is no notice given, I will edit the post to allow for anonymity.

Feeling Discouraged

I have recently finished my observation sessions for my peer tutoring course and am hopefully going to have my first tutoring opportunity this week.  In the mean time I would like to reflect on some of my sessions and what I saw that went well and what did not.

My observation was unnerving to say the least.  The session started on time and the student brought in a paper on a scientific subject.  Once again, it was something I was not familiar with.  The student explained to the tutor that she was feeling uncertain about the way she formatted her paper and the tutor proceeded to get her an APA paper guideline located in the writing center.  For a few moments the tutor and student discussed what was written on the sheet of paper. When the student had questions the tutor seemed like she didn't know the answer to she started to explain that she had looked online at other papers and this seemed to be the correct formatting.  However the tutor just suggested to her that she sh…

Management 101 for Writing Consultants

Recently, I had a consultation with a graduate student who had never been to the writing center before. He brought in a paper his advisor had refused to grade until he had “fixed” his overuse of prepositional phrases. He was clearly stressed.
Though a student and consultant sit down at the same desk and look at the same paper, they each bring their own goals and expectations to a consultation. I’ve realized that a big part of what I do as a peer-consultant is manage those goals. In the consultation I described earlier, this client’s head was probably full of different, competing goals: get through this entire paper during this session, cut out all prepositional phrases, make sure this paper is error-free, satisfy my advisor (or else), get an A in this class…the list goes on and on. On the other side of the desk, I’m thinking about how to improve this student’s writing skills, how to boost his confidence, and how to satisfy his expectations all in forty-five minutes.
I see this student …

Call for Papers: AEQ Winter 2013

Hi All!
Call for Papers: Writing Center Theory and Practice
The Winter 2013 Issue of Academic Exchange Quarterly, an independent double-blind-peer-reviewed print journal, is now accepting submissions for its special section on Writing Center Theory and Practice.Articles may explore issues of theory, practice, and experience in writing center work, including qualitative and empirical studies and discussions of pedagogy.
Articles may also consider the following: How writing center professionals cope with change and the eventuality of needing to expand their efforts in response to new economic and demographic challenges.Furthermore, as we move towards increasingly virtual and technologically dependent learning communities, how can these efforts help meet the evolving demands of our students? 
In addition to Writing Center Directors and other Administrators, submissions are welcome from professional staff, faculty tutors, and graduate students who work in the writing center.Manuscript le…

The sneaky student tries to strike again

Do students assume you do not know they are trying to pull a fast one on you? We have a specific rule in our WRC about not helping with take home tests or short answer homework questions but we have a repeat client that insists on hiding all of the assignment from us. We know that she does this, and every time we catch it we send her away but she chooses someone else the next time and tries to fish the answers out of that tutor. We're a small, close group so we know exactly who she is and how she works. Is this not insulting to us as tutors? I understand that people want and need help with their writing but we have certain limitations for a reason and this particular student has not yet grasped the concept of our rules. I'm sure other WRCs have similar problems but at what point can we refuse to help her when she insists on trying to skirt the rules?