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By - Monday, February 6, 2012, 4:51pm

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Claim your DTV topic

By - Monday, January 30, 2012, 5:46pm

You can claim your presentation topic on this spreadsheet.

A fun poem for the new semester…

By - Monday, January 23, 2012, 4:49pm

…when we’ll be doing more with grammar:

Complete…First Semester as a WC Tutor

By - Thursday, December 8, 2011, 10:18pm

As I sit here, I thought I would use my last blog post of the semester to enlighten all of you with some of the many different things I have learned through my work as a writing center tutor…

1)      Hannah has the most interesting and entertaining tutoring style I have ever encountered…the best part about it? It usually works.

2)      Tutoring an ESL student can be a lot of work.  However, I was reminded that the process of learning for them is much more frustrating than our half-hour sessions.  Also, in this case, it’s ok for the session to be all about grammar.

3)      Miles apparently likes to steal other people’s paper topics.

4)      Being on the receiving end of a tutoring session is perhaps one of the best ways to become a better tutor.  It’s a good wake-up call for learning how your tutees may feel, and it’s a great way to pick your fellow tutors’ brains for new/different tutoring strategies.

5)      The writing center is a horrible place for anyone who has a sugar or coffee addiction as both are readily available at all times of the day.

6)      Apparently when a professor assigns an open-ended paper, the students actually are allowed to write about whatever they want.  Who would have thought?

7)      The white board that has the random questions-answers on it? Best idea ever.

8)      Being a tutor is really fulfilling now that I’m comfortable doing it.  When the semester began, I was so nervous that I felt as though every word coming out of my mouth was either wrong or pointless.  Now I’m to the point where I feel like most of the time, both the student and myself are getting something out of the session.  I even have a student who comes back for tutoring sessions with me on a regular basis.

Hope everyone has a good winter break! Cheers!

Say “No” to Boring Slideshows

By - Thursday, December 8, 2011, 4:52pm

While a lot of people already wrote blogs about technology in the Writing Center… I’m going to jump on the train.  Say what you will about me being a follower, but I still have things to say.

The Writing Center has grown so much this year.  Not only are we getting more students coming in, but we are also working with so many different types of assignments.  Even though a majority of the assignments coming in are still for humanities classes, we are getting more lab reports, science research papers, and even math papers.  Slowly but surely, the rest of the student body is beginning to realize the Writing Center does more than help with English papers.

At the beginning of the semester, Dr. Cordell had discussed the possibility of working on slideshows and other technology-related projects.  I hadn’t really thought about this much, until I had a slideshow presentation for my psychology class.  I have done quite a few slideshow presentations in my college career (and I have sat through quite a few bad presentations); but for some reason, I had never thought to go to the Writing Center to work on and perfect my presentation.

I met with Dr. Cordell for tips on how to make a good slideshow– he made a couple of suggestions (such as thinking about what I don’t like about other people’s slide shows) and sent me a couple of links about how to make a good slideshow.  To summarize some of the most helpful tips, I learned…

1. None of your slides should be each of your points verbatim.  There is no point to having a paragraph on a slide that you’re already going to read. Summarize your most important points so your audience will know what to pay most attention to.

2. If you’re going to use visual aids (graphs, tables, pictures, etc.), make sure you actually use them.  If you’re going to have visual aids, make sure you explain them so your audience knows why you’re using them. Don’t put in pictures just to make your slideshow longer.

3. Use visual aids.  As long as you know how to use them, it’s nice to change up from seeing bullet point after bullet point.

4. Make sure your background/text colors work together– bright yellow text and a white background are not only going to be impossible to read, but they’ll give your audience a headache.

5. Because there can’t only be four points (but actually, this is the most important point): Don’t forget about your audience! You’re presenting a slideshow for a reason– you’re trying to educate your audience. Make sure you interact with the audience; talk to your audience, not at them.

Long story short, I think it is a brilliant idea to have people bring in slideshow presentations to the Writing Center.  Not only will people learn how to present a proper slideshow, but no one else will have to suffer through a horrible slideshow presentation.  This is the Writing Center’s way of giving back.


Work Cited:

McKinney, Jackie Grutsch. “New Media Matters: Tutoring in the Late Age of Print.” The St. Martin’s Sourcebook for Writing Tutors. 4th ed. Eds. Christina Murphy and Steve Sherwood. Boston and New York: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2011. Print

Workshop Wednesday

By - Wednesday, December 7, 2011, 9:47pm

So other than Miles totally stealing my idea for a research paper (same topic and same quote usage? really?), I thought the workshop today was really interesting and I think it ended up being a good resource for more than just myself.

I’ve only ever done peer-editing one time in another class, and then for the writing center consultation we had to have at the beginning of the semester.  Once again, I was able to put myself in the shoes of the tutee, which I think is really beneficial now that I am a writing tutor – perhaps even more so now that I’m an experienced tutor.  It’s a good reminder of how it feels to be in the tutee position and to learn from the tutoring styles of others (what may or may work or be the best approach to tutoring).

That being said, it’s still not something I’m used to or completely comfortable with but I think I was able to get some pretty decent feedback from Gretchen and Miles.  After getting the opportunity to talk to someone about my paper, I’m a little more excited about it.  I wasn’t completely sure of the direction I was going to go (even though I had about 3 pages of random things typed up), but now I think I’ll be able to create a research project that I can enjoy and that may be beneficial to SNC in the long run.

Technology in the Writing Center

By - Wednesday, December 7, 2011, 9:48am

I know several people have already posted about the articles we read on incorporating technology in the writing center, but I’d like to add some of my thoughts. At first, I thought that accepting technology projects was not a good idea. I do not know much about technology, and do not want to disappoint a tutee who comes in expecting me to be tech-savvy. Also, technology can be time-consuming work. A student might expect to make a quick, three-minute formatting change that ends up taking 15 minutes. I don’t want to spend half of the consultation figuring out how to change the color of the background instead of talking about the rhetoric strategies of the entire project. Finally, I also don’t want students to insist that we only work on  formatting the technology aspect of the project without listening to any rhetorical advice.

However, as I continued to read the articles, I saw the benefits of incorporating technology into the writing center’s work. Being tech-savvy can be a big benefit to working with students on their projects, but those skills are not necessary. I can give tutees my basic knowledge in technology and recommend them to other sources for the questions that I can’t answer. Also, I don’t need lots of experience with technology to help with rhetorical strategies.  For example, I can say, “I don’t know how to edit this picture, but I suggest asking someone how to do it and then lightening up the background of the picture to make it more appealing to the audience.”

Finally, the opportunity to help students with the rhetoric of their technology projects is an important reason for why we should incorporate technology into writing center consultations. One of the articles we read suggested that if the writing center does not help with multimedia projects, then students might only get help from the technology department, who may not help students with writing or rhetoric. (I would like to provide the exact quote, but I do not remember where it’s found.) Even if students don’t want help on their writing and rhetoric, as consultants, we can try to sneak in some of that instruction which they may not receive from anyone else.

So, although the idea makes me a little nervous, and I’d like to receive some basic training in multimedia projects before I work with one in the writing center,  I think incorporating technology into writing center sessions is a great opportunity for us to reach a broader audience and to train students on the rhetoric strategies of technology.



Sheridan, David. “Words, Images, Sounds: Writing Centers as Multiliteracy Centers.” The St. Martin’s Sourcebook for Writing Tutors. 4th ed. Ed. Christian Murphy and Steve Sherwood. Boston: Bedford, 2011. 334-44. Print.

McKinney, Jackie Grutsch. “New Media Matters: Tutoring in the Late Age of Print.” The St. Martin’s Sourcebook for Writing Tutors. 4th ed. Ed. Christian Murphy and Steve Sherwood. Boston: Bedford, 2011. 344-61. Print.

Murphy, Christina and Lory Hawkes. “The Future of Multiliteracy Centers in the E-World: An Exploration of Cultural Narratives and Cultural Transformation.” The St. Martin’s Sourcebook for Writing Tutors. 4th ed. Ed. Christian Murphy and Steve Sherwood. Boston: Bedford, 2011. 361-74. Print.



Incorporating Media into the Writing Center

By - Tuesday, December 6, 2011, 8:01pm

Yesterday we spent class talking about how technology is changing the writing world, and questioning both whether or not the Writing Center needs to adjust to meet this shift and what makes qualities make online-writing the most accessible.

McKinney’s article really highlights this shift away from paper writing and the idea that writing centers need to learn how to accommodate this shift.  She states that “we have witnesses a fundamental change in the textual climate.  Before, putting text on paper – and writing for that linear, left-to-right, top-to-bottom, page-to-page form – was the way to write…Now, there are many ways to communicate through writing (348).”  Bluntly put, technological advances, particularly the computer and use of the internet, have changed the way our world communicates through writing.  Thus, the way we write and what we focus on in our writing needs to change as well.

I agree that we do need to begin learning how to work with students whose classes are becoming more technologically based.  Many professors now work strictly through Moodle, using blogs and discussion forums as a main way of encouraging student interaction with both course material and other students.  Even our own writing center course uses these blogs as a way of evaluating and encouraging student-material and student-student interaction.  Classes now use things like Microsoft Powerpoint and Prezzi as a presentation tool, and it is beoming increasingly important for students to learn how to use these tools affectively.

McKinney, Jackie Grutsch. “New Media Matters: Tutoring in the Late Age of Print.” The St. Martin’s Sourcebook for Writing Tutors. 4th ed. Eds. Christina Murphy and Steve Sherwood. Boston and New York: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2011. Print

The Quick Help Desk

By - Tuesday, December 6, 2011, 5:11pm

Perhaps this isn’t the place or time, and maybe I’m not the person to create such a post, but leaving the meeting last week, opinions regarding the Quick Help Desk seemed scattered. Since no one took to my “closing our eyes while voting” idea (including myself), I was able to tally the votes. There was no general consensus, no conclusion as to what we should do with the Quick Help Desk. My intentions here are not to settle the debate, only to lay all the facts down on the table in an (as best I can) unbiased manner.

The Quick Help Desk was founded with two primary objectives in mind:

1.Increase Writing Center visibility

2.Offer quick assistance to students

Gauging how successful the Help Desk has been in increasing Writing Center visibility is a difficult task, as we haven’t had a response form questioning students how they’d been referred to the WC. It offers a second location where the WC can be represented, which is fundamentally a good idea, but unfortunately this second location is only two floors away from our primary location. Even though it seems quite obvious to us what our purpose is on the first floor, many students look at the big “Writing Center” sign and quickly avert their attention. I feel that it has sparked curiosity among some students, while others seem to simply find it an extension of the technology help desk (I’ve showed two different people how to access PowerPoint when posed with the question…I couldn’t help myself). The fact of the matter is, WC visibility doesn’t seem like an all-too necessary function at this point, seeing as how there’s not a lot of white space on the schedule these days. Appointments are filled weeks in advance, negating the need for QHD’s objective number one. Removing the QHD would open up many additional slots in the WC, allowing us to further help the student body, which is our primary goal.

Since increasing WC visibility doesn’t seem to be as pressing an issue as we originally thought, this leaves us with objective number two, offering quick assistance to students. If there is an argument for keeping the QHD, it rests here. Were students to understand the function of the QHD, they would undoubtedly stop by with questions. However, too many individuals misunderstand our purpose, leaving me slightly confused. The sign on the front of the desk couldn’t possibly get any bigger, and it clearly reads, “Writing Center.” In order for the desk to be more helpful, it’s purpose would have to become common fact to students. I’m not exactly sure how we would going about doing this; we can continue to mention it during appointments, but that will only reach out to those individuals choosing to schedule with us. The QHD can be helpful to many more individuals than just those that visit the WC.

On paper, the QHD seems like a great idea, and I think it could develop into a helpful secondary branch of the WC. But we have to figure out a way to get the word out explaining its function. What does everyone think? Is there anything we could do to make it known that the QHD is a helpful library resource for those with writing questions? Until we can answer this question, the QHD, with its relatively small amount of business, seems to be taking away from our objective to help students. Rather than working with someone on their paper, we sit down at the desk and read. There needs to be a way to make the QHD more effective for it to be worth the cost.

A Tech-Savvy Writing Center

By - Monday, December 5, 2011, 9:44pm

When I first started to read the articles for class today about multiliteracy writing centers and the use of digital media in writing assignments, I became extremely nervous extremely fast. I am not, in any sense of the word, “tech-savvy.” Sure, I can navigate my way around a few websites and put together a decent powerpoint, but what these readings were proposing about emerging multimodal writing centers and the media-expectations of tutors, was fully beyond my skill-set concerning technology.

(In other words, a well-appropriated “yikes!” resounded in my head a few times…)

However, despite my frightening lack of technological expertise, I recognize that the realities presented in articles like “Words, Images, Sounds: Writing Centers as Multiliteracy Centers” by David Sheridan and “New Media Matters: Tutoring in the Late Age of Print” by Jackie McKinney are relatively feasible for tutors who are not necessarily technology-prone, such as myself. And moreover, they make a compelling argument about why such technological training and advancements within writing centers are needed, for in the 21st century, we as students “are asked to produce Web pages, PowerPoint slides, desktop-published documents, and even digital videos–compositions that encourage design, visual communication, and media in ways that the traditional academic essay…historically has not” (Sheridan 336). While the argument can be made that St. Norbert college itself has not fully made the transition from “the traditional academic essay, printed on 8 1/2″ x 11″ paper with one-inch margins” (336) toward entirely web-based writing assignments, the advance of technologically centered writing and media creeping into the education system is a likely reality.

Concerning writing tutors and their involvement in the event of new media, I found a few suggestions helpful in tutoring techniques for digital work. First and foremost, tutors will require training in all of these emerging technological arenas (“computer-mediated literacy, cyberliteracy, electracy”) to better assist those students from a knowledgable standpoint (337-338). As Sheridan points out with the example of Michigan State, “additionally, the center [at MSU] offers a series of whole-class presentations that explore basic issues related to digital composing” (um, yes please) which enables the tutors and WC instructors to constructively mold both the tutors (through their training) and the writing center itself into something applicable for our technological era.

Additionally, the idea of tutoring students about new-media documents seems much more approachable considering the similar rhetoric used. For instance, simply stating that “new media texts make fundamentally different types of arguments” explains a lot to me, in a familiar way, about how I can approach this new writing form (McKinney 347). In other words, if I, as a writing consultant, view this technologically-spiffy document as just another mode of communication with a specific argument, I’m golden! MCKinney describes Cheryl Ball’s take on the purpose of digital media as a depature into new argument-forms altogether: digital media “radically departs from print conventions as it asks readers to compose the argument by dragging and dropping audio, still images, and text to play together in an order determined by the viewer/reader” (347). While I am still apprehensive about guiding students on how to achieve and/or strengthen an argument which is so uniquely interactive, I can understand the interactive and multi-layered approach the argument will take in this tech-environment.

Moreover, I learned a lot about the impending transition writing centers will take to become more “tech-savvy” in their tutoring emphasis and overall values in preparing students for our technological world.

How do other consultants feel about this projected transition of writing centers to “multiliteracy centers”? What were your reactions to the new requirements for tutors in the technological field? (scared as I was or happily tech-savvy and ready to conquer the tech-world?)

[cheers for my last post of the year!!! 🙂 huzzah!]

McKinney, Jackie Grutsch. “New Media Matters: Tutoring in the Late Age of Print.” The St. Martin’s Sourcebook for Writing Tutors. 4th ed. Eds. Christina Murphy and Steve Sherwood. Boston and New York: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2011. 249-62. Print

Sheridan, David. ”Words, Images, Sounds.” The St. Martin’s Sourcebook for Writing Tutors. 4th ed. Bedford/St. Marin’s: Boston and New York, 2011. 334-344. Print.