Writing Center workshops provide practical, hands-on exploration of different aspects of the writing process, from idea generation to thesis development to revision. Our public speaking workshops prepare your students to engage audiences with focus and confidence.

Below you will find general descriptions of the types of workshops that the Writing Center can offer you. Our associates will work with you to custom design instruction aimed at meeting your specific pedagogical goals. Workshops can occupy part or all of a class period, though a full class period is most effective.  

Please contact Jyl Gentzler to schedule a writing workshop for your class, or Susan Daniels for a public speaking workshop.

Writing Topics Include:

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. This workshop introduces a general approach to writing and leads students through a series of writing exercises; it can help students explore and articulate fully their initial ideas about a text or topic, synthesize their ideas after a full draft, or make a plan for developing a short paper into a longer one.

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. It 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. This workshop often takes place after students have been given an assignment and have done some thinking and planning, but before they have done much writing. We also offer versions to help students get started on their projects and/or move forward from initial or partial drafts.

Argument Development

This workshop helps students learn to develop contestable, reasonable, and significant claims about complex topics. In class, students will practice crafting and supporting thoughtful (and thought-provoking) theses via exercises in close reading, question-making, fast-writing and loop writing, and peer discussion. This workshop can occur at almost any stage of the writing process— when students are beginning to generate ideas or after they have written partial or full drafts—but it focuses on the relationship between the parts and the whole, in order to develop coherence and unity.

Engaging with Sources

Entering a scholarly conversation, whether responding to a single text or developing an independent research project, can challenge writers at any level. This workshop encourages students to become more intentional about their approaches to reading research materials and to develop an ongoing dialogue with their sources. Depending on its timing within the students’ research, reading, and writing processes, this workshop teaches students to approach their sources critically; to engage other writers’ ideas and words while maintaining their own distinct voices and arguments; and/or to employ appropriate language for quoting, summarizing, and paraphrasing. We also offer strategies for writing during the research process, to help students articulate and develop their own ideas along the way, so that they are not writing a semester-long project in the last week.

The Art of Revision

This workshop offers 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), then moving into in a guided peer-revision activity in which students apply these ideas to their own writing. Students may then do exploratory writing to synthesize, reorganize, and/or further develop their ideas.

Savvy, Scholarly, and Engaged Reading

We offer several sorts of reading workshops for the classroom. Savvy Reading offers strategies for reading more effectively and efficiently, so that students can come to class with both an understanding of an author’s purpose and argument and their own sense of why it’s important. This workshop is particularly helpful in reading-heavy courses and/or for students who are taking several courses with a lot of reading. Scholarly Reading helps student learn to read complex, often theoretical scholarly articles by identifying key passages and using them to unlock the argument as a whole. Students may be assigned a reading exercise in advance, and instructors may wish to follow up with a writing assignment that builds on this exercise. In Engaged Reading, students examine and add to their active reading “tool kits,” through instruction and exercises in close reading, annotation, dialogic note-taking and/or reading journals. Our digital version of this workshop helps students maintain and develop effective reading strategies even reading on screens.

 

Public Speaking Topics include:

Effective Speech Composition

Communicating with an audience in real time requires different skills than does communicating with readers.  One difference is the structure of the message.  In this workshop, which is ideal to offer early in the process of preparing an oral presentation, students will be taught how to structure their writing for presentation to a live audience.

Stage Presence

It takes much more than loud reading to give an effective oral presentation.  In this skills-based workshop, students will learn how to relax and engage their audience through their voice, their body language and the focus of their energy.   This workshop is ideal for students who have a written speech and need presentation skills to deliver a dynamic performance.

Authentic Performance

Rather than imitating other presenters, great speakers show up as themselves when they present.  As a result, the audience perceives them as highly credible, authentic speakers.   This interactive workshop helps students identify their unique qualities and teaches them how to use those strengths to present confidently and authentically every time they speak.

Essential Ingredients for Constructive Feedback

In this interactive workshop, students learn and practice how to give positive, productive feedback to speakers based on their performance.  Students learn not only how to recognize what the speaker is doing well and what needs improvement, but also how to  share skills with speakers so that they are encouraged and know what to practice to be even more effective the next time.