2015 Peer Tutor Day: Tutors around the Globe

Nijmegen 1Friday July 10th and Saturday July 11th, Radboud University Nijmegen, the Netherlands

The Nijmegen Centre for Academic Writing would like to invite tutors working at writing centres all over the world for an EWCA peer tutor event this summer. Last year, our tutors were very inspired by the exchange with international colleagues at the EWCA Peer Tutor Day in Frankfurt/Oder. Unfortunately, no Peer Tutor Day was planned for this summer, which would mean that many of our tutors would not have the opportunity to meet with other (foreign) colleagues to exchange ideas. That is why we decided to host the 2015 Peer Tutor Day in Nijmegen!

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#Intlwritein: 44 schools participate in global chain event

Jill Gladstein and her crew at the Swarthmore College Writing Center share an update about the #IntlWrtIn initiative!

Cram Jam”, “Writers’ Block Party”, or “Final Paper Countdown”– International Write-In events may go by many names, but all share one goal: to unite student writers to remind them that they aren’t alone with their writing.

After a successful first run in December that saw over 1000 students come together on 27 college campuses and across social media for a week of writing events, the Spring 2015 International Write-In has become even bigger, with 44 colleges and universities participating between April 24 and May 5. This semester’s group includes a variety of institutions spanning Community Colleges, SLACs, HBCUs, and R1s, each providing writers with a space to come together to write. Participants have been connecting via Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram with #IntlWriteIn, and will continue to do so throughout the event. Swarthmore College’s Writing Associates Program is proud to have helped sponsor the Spring 2015 International Write-In by connecting participating colleges and universities online. For more information, please check out the International Write-In webpage.

For a sample of some of the action, check out some of the highlights below:

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A full list of schools participating in the event can be found here.

The Writing Process Abroad: A tutor reflects

Our guest post this week is courtesy of Leanna Jasek-Rysdahl, a peer tutor at McDaniel College in Westminster, Maryland. She shares an anecdote from her time studying abroad–and what it felt like to transfer her writing center skills to a new environment.

On Thanksgiving in Budapest, Hungary, my day consisted of microwaving a sweet potato, Skyping my parents, and helping a student in a two-hour long session. While “seeing” my family was enjoyable, the writing center appointment was by far the most interesting aspect of the holiday, and proved to be one of the most fascinating and challenging appointments I have had to date.

10616670_10152778381083974_6322940345137937058_nIn order to fully understand the Thanksgiving appointment, it is necessary to provide context. Last year, I studied abroad in France during the summer for three months, directly followed by a semester at McDaniel College’s sister campus in Hungary.

These seven months were, without a doubt, the most formative of my life. I travelled to nine different countries and spoke with countless individuals. Whether it was on a park bench in Oslo, a ruin bar in Budapest, or a hostel in Bratislava, the people I met shared their stories with me and collectively changed my view of the world and the people living in it.

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CFP: Global academic publishing

From Mary Jane Curry, PhD. Associate Professor of Language Education at the Department of Teaching & Curriculum at the Warner Graduate School of Education of the University of Rochester

After successful colloquia at AILA and AAAL on global academic publishing, Theresa Lillis and I are pleased to issue this call for proposals to contribute a book chapter to an edited volume to be published by Multilingual Matters: Global academic publishing: Policies, practices, and pedagogies. Proposals due to mjcurry@warner.rochester.edu by June 15. Details included in the call for proposals, below.

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A Writing Center to Envy

Editor’s note: After hearing from afar of the beautiful writing center space that Jackson State University in Mississippi enjoys, I wanted to know more! Tatiana Glushko and Kathi R. Griffin share their story below:

Entrance to the centerIn 2002 The Richard Wright Center for the Written Word (RWC) at Jackson State University began as part of a grant. As coordinator of the Millsaps College Writing Center, Kathi Griffin was invited to help train the first cohort of peer tutors, of which then undergraduate Summer Graves was a member. After the center got off the ground, funding sources changed more than once, which also changed the face and location of the center.

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Tatiana Glushko and Kathi Griffin.

As we know, the location of the writing center speaks about its role on a campus. The evolution of the RWC reflects its changing affiliations, thereby its role and mission at JSU. When the center opened in 2003, it was located on the third floor at the back of the library. It didn’t have its own enclosed space and thus was furnished like the rest of the library, in unforgiving oak tables and chairs. It was a place where students, primarily undergraduates “who need assistance and encouragement in completing their writing assignments,” could receive support.

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Tutoring in Qatar

Editor’s note: Today’s profile is of Dr. Molly McHarg, who was kind enough to share some of her experience working in Qatar.

Screen Shot 2015-04-08 at 8.28.13 AMThe Writing Center (TWC) at Virginia Commonwealth University in Qatar (VCUQ) began rather organically. VCUQ opened in 1998, and, to the best of my understanding, there was an English faculty member who recognized the need for additional English language writing support early on. She, along with other volunteer English faculty members, provided supplemental writing instruction to students on a one-on-one basis. Fast forward to 2004, and the first Writing Center Instructor position was created. This instructor is still with TWC. Since 2004, there have also been a series of adjunct instructors hired to work part-time in TWC. Finally, in 2013, a second full-time position was created in TWC, a position which I currently hold.

Screen Shot 2015-04-08 at 8.29.30 AMMy husband and I moved to Qatar in August 2005 — almost 10 years ago — when Georgetown University was just opening its branch campus in Doha. We were newlyweds and eager to embark on an exciting adventure abroad, so we jumped at the opportunity with plans to stay “for one year, maximum two”, at which point we planned to return to the U.S. Ten years later we are still here and loving it! We now have three children and have added two advanced degrees to our resumes. Qatar is an incredible place with many opportunities, both for work and personal development. I think it is one of the best places in the world to raise children; there are also endless opportunities to travel, and research and other professional development opportunities abound.

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18 years after “Beans” — Neal Lerner reflects

A week out from the deadline to reflect on Neal Lerner’s seminal WLN article, “Counting Beans and Making Beans Count,” the original author shares a few of his own thoughts:

Lerner_Neal Let me start by thanking Muriel Harris for the opportunity to fire up the time machine and allow me a few moments to reflect on my 1997 Writing Lab Newsletter article, “Counting Beans and Making Beans Count, ” and what the last 18 years have meant to writing centers when it comes to assessing the impact we might have on students and on our campuses. It is extremely gratifying for me to know that “Beans” might have had some effect on the ways that writing center professionals have approached assessing the work of their writing centers.

In 1997, I was less than a year removed from completing a doctorate in education degree and was charged with creating a brand-new writing center at a college of pharmacy and health sciences. That first year, I had been hired part-time, initially a 50% appointment that I was able to expand to 75% by also teaching a section of first-year writing. I describe these circumstances to offer an idea of the exigency for my study: If I wanted that part-time employment to continue and perhaps even become a full-time job, I needed to show some measure of “success” for the writing center I had just recently created. I was very fortunate to have the support of my department chair, who helped me gather the data—first-year students’ SAT scores and grades in first-year writing—that went into the initial “Beans” study. It did not occur to me at the time that such data is hard to gather or not readily made available by college and university registrars. In fact, I distinctly remember an email conversation that Mickey and I had in which she expressed amazement that I did have easy access to such data! But, fortunate I was, even if it meant seeing that some of my colleagues gave all of their students A’s without fail (a finding that my chair told me in no uncertain terms would not be released for public consumption).

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CFP: Second Conference on Latin American Writing Centers and Programs

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October 28th and 29th of 2015-Universidad de los Andes-Bogotá, Colombia

A student ́s admission to a university represents an immersion into a context filled with new objectives, goals, rules, and methods. As part of this process, it is fundamental to be able to understand the ideas of others as well as be able to transmit one ́s own. This allows students to actively engage in an academic community through an intellectual discussion that is based on specific criteria. In this scenario, writing becomes a privileged tool in order to learn and evidence the central comprehensions in every academic discipline. Thus, the role of writing centers and programs is focused on assisting the communicative processes of the university community, so that its members can effectively participate in academic life. Within this purpose, the support that can be provided in order to aid student retention at the college level is essential.

With the intention of generating a space that fosters sharing and discussion with respect to the role of writing in the academic development of university students, the Latin American Network of Writing Centers and Programs (Red Latinoamericana de Centros y Programas de Escritura) invites all involved in this type of initiatives at the college level to participate in its second conference, which will take place October 28th and 29th at Universidad de los Andes in Bogotá, Colombia. In particular, we are interested in discussing retention strategies that arise from writing centers and programs. Thus, we seek proposals directly related to this issue or to the following topics:

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IDC Herzliya Writing Center: The story behind Israel’s first academic writing center.

Editor’s note: As part of our ongoing work to gain a broader appreciation of the vital work our colleagues around the world are doing, I asked Dr. Miriam Symon and Ms. Sharone Kravez to share the story of their center in Israel.

israel wcThe Interdisciplinary Center (IDC) Herzliya, located in the central Sharon region of Israel, not far from the Mediterranean coastline, has changed the face of Israeli academia, with its interdisciplinary approach and strong social commitment. It offers innovative and dynamic academic programs in law, business, government, computer science, communications, psychology, economics and sustainability. Approximately 25% of IDC’s 6,500 students study in the Raphael Recanati International School (RRIS), which has students from over 80 countries who come to Israel to study their degree in English-medium instruction (EMI).

IDC’s Writing Center is currently in its third year of operation. For years, the EFL Unit sought to establish a writing center, and students cooperated with the unit in seeking to promote this objective. We were successful, when it was recognized that students need support in the growing trend of EMI courses for Israeli and international students.

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Tutoring with an International Background: Part Two

Editor’s note: for the first installment in this series, click here. Read on for excellent stories from Lara, Jimmy, and Nne!

NNE NWANKWO
Pursuing Political Science, Urban Affairs & Planning, and Creative Writing at Virginia Tech

DSC01425 copyAs a Nigerian (from metropolitan Lagos), I grew up learning and understanding several languages at the same time. Nigeria is one of the most ethnically diverse countries in the world, and more importantly, Lagos is the melting pot of the nation. As an Igbo girl, I learned Igbo growing up; and as a contemporary Nigerian, pidgin English is necessary to enjoyably engage in any conversation. As a Lagosian, Yoruba (no matter how little) is important to convincingly haggle with a hawker or to spit fire at a rude neighbor. Furthermore, as francophone nations of Benin, Cameron and Togo border Nigeria, French is the mandatory foreign language in schools. In fact, most contemporary Nigerian songs incorporate a mix of Nigerian pidgin, Yoruba and Igbo, and many times, other minority languages. Sometimes, the songs include French ad-libs also. Nigerian music is a direct representation of the average Nigerian’s speaking and writing patterns – a beautifully jumbled mesh of multiple languages.

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Tutoring with an International Background

Editor’s note: I recently put out a call to hear the stories and perspective of those that work in our centers who come from a multi-lingual, multi-national, multi-cultural background. I hope you enjoy the following stories from Claudia and Kumar as much as I do, and the way they highlight the important, fostering work writing centers do.

And read part two, now posted!

CLAUDIA QUEZADA GARRIDO
Pursuing a MA in English Language and Literature at the University of Michigan-Flint

previewCurrently I am one of only 3 international students in the English Language and Literature program. I come from Chile, where I got my B.A. in English and Education. As you may have guessed, my first language is Spanish. I learned English at University. While I was in my junior year I was awarded a scholarship to work as a language assistant in the UK. I lived in South Wales for a year, helping High School seniors develop their language skills in Spanish. Until that point in my life, my contact with English had been limited to the classroom setting. Living in a country where the language is actually is spoken is very different.

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#WCLinkUp: The Long Night Against Procrastination Across Germany Revisited

With this blog post I want to highlight some of the events of The Long Night Against Procrastination Across Germany.  When browsing Twitter with hashtag #lndah, I came across a tweet by Dennis Fassing, who mixed tweets, posters and images with his own commentary in a stori-fy compilation. Although the texts are in German, I think that readers from around the globe will appreciate the many faces and forms this event took on this year on or around March 5, 2015.

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WcORD goes public!

Ever feel like the same questions get asked on the listservs and Facebook groups again and again?

online-presentation-femaleLooking for examples of writing center videos?

What articles to read about training programs?

Links to regional writing center groups?

There’s a new solution for that!

The WLN is pleased to announce that WCORD: The Writing Center Online Resource Database is now LIVE.

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Associate editor Lee Ann Glowzenski, a key architect of the archive, shares that “WcORD is a community project, and we’re depending on users to help the database to grow. We’d love to see the addition of writing center websites and blogs, links to articles and handouts, videos and multimedia presentations — any and all resources that writing center practitioners and researchers use in their everyday work.”

Mickey Harris agrees. “Join on in! Enter the online resources they have for their centers or that they know about (including the URLs for their WCA organizations). Together, we can make this an invaluable resource for our community.”

Explore and bookmark the WcORD today!

The Long Night Against Procrastination: Our Evolving Relationship

Although the Long Night Against Procrastination began five years ago at Viadrina University in Frankfurt/Oder (one hour east of Berlin and the location of the 2014 EWCA conference), universities across the pond have also caught on. Julie Nelson Christoph, Director of the Center for Writing, Learning, and Teaching at the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, WA shares this year’s event with us. 

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Those of us who procrastinate have a special relationship with our procrastination, in its many varieties and causes. There’s the dreaded procrastination because of fear of the task, there’s joyous procrastination because of more enticing alternatives, and—when we’re smart—there’s what Professor John Perry calls “structured procrastination,” or putting the urge to procrastinate to good use by re-prioritizing our priority lists, so that the truly useful tasks (like major writing projects) become the distractions from the other tasks on the list (like vaguely important emails that seem pressing but have been forgotten by everyone but you).

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The Long Night Against Procrastination 2015: A German Perspective

Stephanie Dreyürst, founder and director of the Writing Center at Frankfurt’s Goethe-University, holds a PhD in Early Modern German Literature. She is interested in everything that has to do with (academic) writing, reading and thinking. Her favorite ardreyfuerst stephanie-5eas of research include personal learning environments, writing intensive courses, Writing Fellows, and Digital Humanities projects. She’s a proud member of the board of the German Skeptics. Below is her account of the #lnap events this year in Germany. 

Like every year, I wrote and read a lot during the Long Night Against Procrastination. Only this time I never left home. My bed, to be precise.

Normally, as one of two Directors of the Writing Center at Frankfurt’s Goethe University, I would have been with our peer tutors, supervising the event, watching writers settle into the library’s seats, making sure everybody was fine and happy, drinking the occasional cup of coffee (or three), closing the doors after a really long night, probably around 6:30 in the morning. But not this time.

Both my colleague and I had caught a cold and we just couldn’t be there. A real pity, because it’s such a special night for all of us and we normally have a huge amount of fun with the students and our tutors. But being bed-stricken gave me the opportunity to watch much closer than I normally would have what my colleagues at other Writing Centers were doing and what all the nocturnal writers were saying about their perspective on the Long Night Against Procrastination. Continue reading

Weekly #WCLinkup: Pinterest and the writing center spaces of UNR, IUP and TAMU

Every week the blog editors would like to highlight a few activities, materials or events related to writing centers from around the globe. We intend this to be a simple, fun weekly list of good reading/memes/links around the web by/for/about writing centers. You can help us by sending us links or those tidbits of information that make our readers smile. 

So for this first post I spent some time on Pinterest and entered the keywords “writing+center” first and found a gYes, I went to the writing centerreat number of virtual writing center spaces curated by parents and teachers for elementary and middle school children. I then added another keyword to the search “university+writing+center” and I came across three digital spaces from three universities. The writing consultants at the University of Nevada, Reno writing center started 12 boards and have so far compiled 138 pins. Why not check out the UNR writing center space on Pinterest now? The board titles range from “Writer’s Block,” “Writing Humor” to ‘Real World Writing.”

The IUP Writing Center has 18 boards so far that include information for “IUP Faculty” but also “Just for Laughs,” “Staying Productive” to “Writing in the News.”

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Night Against Procrastination 2015 at Grand Valley State University

This year March 5, 2015 is the day many international writing centers celebrate the Long Night Against Procrastination. Patrick Johnson, Director of the Meijer Center for Writing at Grand Valley State University, shares how his institution has run a #lndah, or how they refer to it, a #NAP event for the last 3 years (this year will be their 4th). Unfortunately, due to the university’s spring break, the Center for Writing has delayed their NAP event until March 12-13. Below is a brief overview about the planned events. 

The Night Against Procrastination has become an annual tradition atNAP posterv4 copy Grand Valley State University. We started offering the event four years ago after learning about it from Sandra Ballweg (TU Darmstadt). Each year it has grown and we have been able to involve more campus programs in the promotion and organization of the event. The first year we held the event we had roughly 120 students attend, whereas last year we had over 200.

For students, NAP is an opportunity to get started on end-of-semester projects/papers after returning from spring break. For writing consultants, it is an essential form of staff bonding where many consultants participate as students as well as assisting with the running of the event. Traditionally, there are not many public outreach events that writing center’s host, so NAP is our one event where we invite everyone on campus to come to the writing center, learn about services, and surround themselves with productivity. A local pizza restaurant donates pizza for our midnight snack and we also offer desk yoga, brain games, campus walks and sunset viewings, as well as a victor’s breakfast for those who survive the night. We also give out pins to students who participate that say “power napper” and “I went all night.” Continue reading

A Call to Reflect On Lerner’s Bean Counting

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Given the drumbeat about the need for assessment, we’re asking for your thoughts on Neal Lerner’s “Counting Beans and Making Beans Count,” Vol. 22.1 (September 1997), and if appropriate to what is on your mind, also his later “Choosing Beans Wisely” Vol. 26.1 (September, 2001). Both articles are available in the open access Archives on the WLN website. We look forward to reading your thoughts about this topic and sharing them with other WLN readers.

Please send your reflection through the Submission section on our website.

Other Reflection Opportunities

As part of our 40th anniversary celebration of the Writing Lab Newsletter (scheduled to become WLN: A Journal of Writing Center Scholarship with the beginning of Vol. 40 in Sept.), we also extend a broader invitation for you to reflect on an article that has appeared at some point during all those years. How has some particular article influenced writing center scholarship and work? How has this topic changed directions since the time in which it was written? Why? What relevance does the article have?

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“(De)Center: Testing Assumptions about Peer Tutoring and Writing Centers”–Call for proposals

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The National Peer Tutoring in Writing Conference announces its conference and call for proposals

The theme of the 2015 National Conference on Peer Tutoring in Writing (NCPTW) and Rocky Mountain Peer Tutor Conference is “(De)Center: Testing Assumptions about Peer Tutoring and Writing Centers.” Throughout its history, peer tutoring has often operated on a set of sometimes untested assumptions, such as that peer-to-peer tutoring is an effective way of learning, that peers can collaborate in non-hierarchical relationships, that a writer’s role in the tutoring session is different than the tutor’s, and that best methodologies are known and easily practiced. As the assumed divide between the classroom, writing center and community shifts, peer tutors are challenged to find a place for themselves within dynamic rhetorical situations. By (de)centering traditional notions of peer tutoring, we can re-imagine the idea of a center as a place and a praxis.

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“Write it Like Disaster”–a writing center music project

Last year, something caught the attention of Scott Whiddon, musician and director of the Transylvania University Writing Center and member of the Southeast Writing Center Association.

“More and more conversations I have (and observe other artists having) with engineers and producers is quite similar to conversations between student writers and writing center staffers. Furthermore, every time I go to a conference, I meet someone else who does music (as an at-home hobby, as a weekend player, in a vocal ensemble or choir, or in other kinds of music)…”

With the support of the SWCA Conference, chaired by Stacia Watkins, who helped closely with the project, he put out a call last fall to the writing center community–not to write a paper, or panel another presentation, but to contribute music.

The result was Write It Like Disaster, described as “a compilation of music made by writing center staffers, professionals, and allies.”

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