Writing Center

Writing Center Workshops in the Classroom

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Our in-class writing workshops provide practical, hands-on exploration of different aspects of the writing process in your classroom. We offer workshops centering on student-generated texts produced in advance for class assignments, as well as free-standing lessons requiring no additional materials (or significant consultation with you). Workshops can occupy part or all of a class period, though a full class period is most effective.  

Here are some general descriptions of the types of workshops that the Writing Center can offer you.   We will individualize each of our workshops to insure that they meet the specific goals that you have for your students. Please contact Jyl Gentzler to schedule a workshop for your class.

Writing as a Tool for Thinking

This workshop encourages students to think more deeply about, question, and develop more fully the ideas they convey in their papers, through strategies that can also minimize writing anxiety and get students started on their papers earlier. A pleasant side effect can be prose that is more fluid and coherent. This workshop, which both introduces a general approach to writing and leads students through a series of writing exercises, can be helpful at any point in a writing project, but is especially useful for helping students explore and articulate fully their initial ideas about a text or topic, synthesize their ideas after a full draft or after some in-depth consideration of the question at hand, or make a plan for developing a short paper into a longer one.

Writing with Sources

Entering a scholarly conversation—whether responding to a single text or constructing a formal research paper—is a concept new and challenging to many students. Through a brief presentation, exercises, and examination of models, this workshop helps students develop skills including effectively engaging other writers’ ideas and words; maintaining their own distinct voices and arguments; employing appropriate language for quoting, summarizing, and paraphrasing; and attributing ideas to sources clearly and ethically.

Re-vision: Perspective and Language for Improving Student Writing

Perspective and Language for Improving Student Writing.  The stage of revision offers students a key entry point for applying skills and concepts of good composition to the challenge of improving their writing. Unfortunately, students (a) seldom revise substantively, and (b) have few opportunities to consider formally what composition entails beyond the simplified models they encounter in high school. This workshop addresses both of these problems by offering students an intensive, hands-on experience of effective revision, beginning with an orientation to key ideas (such as effective thesis-support argument, signposting and transitions, coherence and unity, the parts of an essay, and writing in sections) and culminates in a guided peer-revision activity in which students apply these ideas to their own writing (ideally, 2-3 page drafts that students produce in advance in response to class assignments). This workshop can be tailored— or additional revision workshops added— to focus on specific elements of composition, such as paragraph development, use of sources, or points of style,  and can be adapted to serve simultaneously students who need to work on developing the drafts they have written and those who need to go back and engage more deeply with the material.

Exploratory Drafts

This workshop offers a model for drafting that makes writing easier, yet ultimately leads to essays that demonstrate greater depth of thought, stronger development and synthesis of ideas, and more in-depth engagement with specifics. The workshop provides a general structure for an exploratory draft (articulate initial ideas; explore passages and points in depth; discover relationships between points; shape your argument; synthesize your ideas), as well as a series of questions to prompt exploratory writing at each stage of the draft. Students will do some writing in class.  Ideally this workshop would occur after students have been given an assignment and have done some thinking and planning, but before they have done much writing.

Crafting and Supporting a Thesis

We offer several approaches to helping students generate, craft, and support their theses more effectively and with greater depth of thought. Early in the writing process, we can help your students explore how effective, illuminating theses can emerge through forming questions, exploring textual support, and recursively considering the import of thesis and support for one another as each takes shape. At any point in the writing process—after your students have done preliminary thinking or written a partial or whole draft, or even at a time when they don’t have an assignment—we can offer lessons in crafting and supporting theses through exercises in imitation, close reading of assignments and of key passages, considering the relationship between parts and whole, question-making, free-writing, and peer discussion. .