Showing posts from April, 2013

Processing and Learning Google

College is hard, and no college student will disagree with this statement.  From an early age parents and teachers are preparing each child for the academic and financial demands that college typically entails.  But with all of that preparation is college even made any easier? All college freshman transition into college life through difficult learning experiences, but after a few months, most students seem to adjust to college life fairly well, that is, if they entered college in their late teens or early twenties.  In the Writing Lab at Cairn University we have a lot of older students come in for sessions; students who did not come directly to college after graduation high school.  From my experience, these students can be recognized by some very distinct traits: they are very talkative, eager to learn, receptive to feedback, a little technologically behind other students, willing to accept correction, and filled with questions.  The combination of these characteristics can somet

Becoming Comfortable as a Tutor

Every appointment I have had in the writing center, I become less nervous. This week the writer showed up a few minutes early, so we just got started. She was a freshman in English 1001 and basically just wanted someone else to look over her paper. When I asked her what exactly she wanted to work on, she commented that she knew she was a bad writer and she wanted some help with the flow and the global concerns. I told her not to say she was a bad writer because that wasn’t a good way to think about herself and some people just don’t like to write, but that isn’t always a bad thing. When I read through her paper, I noticed right away that she had most of the technical writing skills down, but her paper jumped all over the place. She had one paragraph almost a page long where she introduced different arguments supporting her thesis, but provided no supporting evidence and jumped ahead to the next topic. We spent some time working to connect some of those with other areas in the paper whe

Putting Theories into Practice

Recently, I had my first tutoring session with a student who was not a native English speaker. I was somewhat nervous for this session because, even though our class has read several articles and essays about how to approach ESL students, I had never personally experienced it. It was somewhat difficult to really get her involved in the session. I tried to read the paper out loud so that we could both hear how the sentences sounded, but I realized part way through that she was not really listening or paying attention until I asked her a question about a sentence or some phrasing in the paragraph. It may have worked better if I had her read it out loud to me rather than being the one doing the reading. Also, I think I needed to directly tell her to write down some of the things she verbally told me when I asked for some explanation. I spent some time working to get her to clarify her meaning on several sentences, but she didn’t write down anything at first. I think this may have been bec

PeerCentered Meet the Author Archive Now Available

This month's Meet the Author Discussions have been archived thanks to Andrew Davis and Alice Myatt of Ole Miss.  Andrew reports that the discussions will soon be closed captioned, as well. Meet the Author Discussions (April 2013) April 8, 2013: Tell Me How It Reads: Tutoring Deaf and Hearing Students in the Writing Center with Rebecca Day Babcoc k (Moderator: Clint Gardner) April 15, 2013:  Researching the Writing Center  with Rebecca Day Babcock & Terese Thonus (Moderator: Clint Gardner)  April 18, 2013: I Hope to Join the Band with Frankie Condon (Moderator: Clint Gardner)  April 22, 2013: The Idea of a Writing Laboratory with author Neal Lerner (Moderator: Clint Gardner) Our next discussion in the series is April 25, 2013 at  2/1/12/11/19 (E/C/M/PDT/GMT): Writing Centers and the New Racism with editors Karen Rowan and Laura Greenfield (Moderator: Clint Gardner) in the PeerCentered TinyChat room. Next week on April 29, 2013 we will wrap up the Meet the Au

WCJ Research and Writing Retreat

This just in: The incoming editors of WCJ (Michele Eodice, Kerri Jordan, and Steve Price) are excited to announce the first- annual WCJ Research and Writing Retreat, July 31-August 3rd, in Eureka Springs, Arkansas. The retreat will offer a seminar and writing workshop environment for participants working on writing center-related research and scholarship. For more information and an online application form, please visit our (temporary) Writing Center Journal website at . 

Meet the Author Discussions

Tomorrow, April 18, 2013, we’ll be discussing I Hope to Join the Band  with Frankie Condon at 2/1/12/11/19 (E/C/M/PDT/GMT) .   Next week we have three sessions!  On Monday, April 22, 2013, we’ll be talking with Neal Lerner about his book The Idea of a Writing Laboratory also at 2/1/12/11/19 (E/C/M/PDT/GMT) .   On Tuesday, April 23 again at 2/1/12/11/19 (E/C/M/PDT/GMT) , Andrew Rihn will be leading a discussion with Mickey Harris.   On Thursday, April 25, 2013, we’ll be talking to Karen Rowan and Laura Greenfield about _Writing Centers and the New Racism   _ also at 2/1/12/11/19 (E/C/M/PDT/GMT).   All discussion are held in the PeerCentered TinyChat space:   Make sure  you go to that URL.  We had some folks show up to the SLCC Student Writing Center’s TinyChat space.  They are most definitely not the same room.

Something about trenches, Xbox, and why I have too much to do. Also, a brief look at conversation in writing.

       There are many common difficulties that a writing consultant faces as he or she gains experience working at a writing center. Such commonalities creep their way into conversations among consultants, tales from the trenches that, when told, illicit knowing nods from all the veterans in the room. One such difficulty is that of the student who knows what she’s trying to say, but can’t for the life of her figure out how to say it on paper. It’s a strange concept for those of us who wield the pen like all of the men in my life wield Xbox 360 controllers. If you know what you’re trying to say, why don’t you just write it down? There is probably a very complex answer to this that a psychology major somewhere thought up while brewing an extra-pump soy chai tea latte, but I can give you the abridged version: They don’t just write it down because they don’t realize that they can.       Those of us who are comfortable with writing (likely due to an awesome high school English teach

Ramblings of a Writing Tutor: Getting Excited About Writing

Recently, while perusing the shelves of Barnes and Noble, I came across a journal. The journal had a beautiful floral cover with the quote by C.S. Lewis, "You can make anything by writing." As a read the quote, I got goose bumps. I was inspired. Here, in my hands was a blank book filled with endless possibilities. I could write anything I wanted on this journal's pages. The pages of the journal were just waiting to be filled with my thoughts, fears, prayers, hopes, dreams, and ideas. I obviously decided to purchase the journal. It is currently sitting on my desk in my dorm room, waiting patiently for me to finish filling up the pages of my current journal and fill up its pages with anything that I care to. Every time that I read the quote on its cover, I stop and think about its implications. “You can make anything by writing.”  It is a pretty exciting idea if you really stop and think about it. Writing is not just for the purposes of completing college research pap

Math in the Writing Center? How Two "Incompatable" Disciplines Can Work Together

Currently, the writing center I work at is investigating ways that we can be of better service to each discipline. We are in the process of interviewing faculty from each school within our university - Liberal Arts and Sciences, Bible, Music, Education, Social Work, and Business - about the role of writing in their fields. The idea is to get a better understanding of what each field requires so that we consultants can better help the students involved. One area that most would assume does not use writing is math. While it's true that most math classes will not require many papers, William L. Morris talks about how his writing center was able to help math students in his article "Math in the Writing Center." Morris had little background in math, but he was able to help a number of freshmen in a difficult math course improve through simple conversation. When the students came into his center, Morris would have them explain the problems they were working on to him in English

International Students, Instructors, and Audience

International students face a particular set of problems when coming to study in America. Beyond the commonly noted language barriers, I have learned this semester that the cultural and rhetorical frameworks of some instructors play a large role in shaping the positive or negative experiences had by these students.  As an optimist, I had never considered that the simplest choice made by a teacher could so drastically affect one of her students. And even more so, I hadn't really considered that unannounced teacher biases would be so visibly detectable to a student from another country. To both these issues, I will relate a couple of anecdotes: I thought my writing center appointment with Yashvant would be like any other I’d had with a freshman composition student; we’d talk about the rhetorical triangle. We’d cover the basis of writing analytic essays. Maybe we’d go over some grammar concepts—All of this I was expecting and prepared for. Never would I have imagined that we wou

Discovering a World of Words

    During the course of a session last week, an ELL student asked me what strategies I recommended for improving vocabulary. She wanted to be able to understand and use more words, but didn’t know how to go about it. While I have certainly seen the results of ramshackle vocabularies, I had never been asked that particular question before, so I didn’t have a ready, thoughtful answer for her. I told the student what I personally have done to help my vocabulary (look up unfamiliar words that I encounter and keep a list with their definitions), but was left wondering what other or better strategies are available, what principles should be kept in mind, and how I can help students use more meaningful words.     In Larry Bate’s “Responsible Vocabulary Word Selection: Turning the Tide of 50-cent Words,”  he begins by discussing the type of vocabulary words that are actually useful to students. In general, high-frequency words of a middling difficulty are much more worthwhile than words that

PeerCentered Discussion of Tell Me How It Reads: Tutoring Deaf and Hearing Students in the Writing Center with Rebecca Day Babcock

To kick off the PeerCentered discussions with authors, we will be talking with Rebecca Day Babcock about her book Tell Me How It Reads:  Tutoring Deaf and Hearing Students in the Writing Center on April 8, 2013 at 2p/1p/12p/11a/19 (EDT/CDT/MDT/PDT/GMT).  While I will be leading the discussion, these sessions really are drive by you, the participants.   You don’t have to have read the book to participate, but I encourage you to do so.  The discussions will be held in PeerCentered’s TinyChat space at .   Please let any peer writing tutors you know about this opportunity. Here is a blurb about Tell Me How It Reads and Rebecca: "Deaf students are attending mainstream postsecondary institutions in increasing numbers, raising the stakes for the complicated and multifaceted task of tutoring deaf students at these schools. Common tutoring practices used with hearing students do not necessarily work for deaf people. Rebecca Day B