February 2021 News

There's a thick layer of snow on the ground, but the academic calendar tells us that we've arrived in the Spring semester! As usual, the professional staff of the Writing Center is available to facilitate writing, reading, and presentation workshops in your classes over Zoom, or to consult on assignment design, inclusive/anti-racist writing pedagogy, or writing process activities such as peer-review and low-stakes writing. 

Ongoing Support for Thesis Writers

  • Writing Center associates are available by Zoom or email for individual consultations with thesis writers in all fields. At this time of year, thesis sessions often focus on planning new chapters, revising in response to feedback, and rebuilding motivation
  • The thesis support team also hosts a Thesis Community on Moodle, which serves as a hub for Library and Writing Center announcements and resources; students may self-enroll through the main course page.  
  • Thesis support assistants Mariama-Alexis Camara ’21 and Olivia Luntz ’21 host twice-weekly virtual write-ins, where students can find community and accountability. Zoom links are shared in the Moodle site above.

Nominate your Thesis Students for the 3MT 

The Writing Center is accepting thesis student proposals for the 2021 3MT ® (Three-Minute Thesis) competition. Please encourage your students to submit a short proposal to their department chair by Thursday, March 11th. Students may find proposal guidelines, contest rules, and examples of 3MT® speeches here.

From those nominations, student finalists will be chosen to compete in the 3MT ®. During the months of March and April, three training sessions will be offered to help students prepare. This year’s competition will be held virtually on Thursday, May 6th at 4:30pm.

December 2020 News

Like many of you, the staff of the Writing Center is looking forward to Winter Break. The Center will effectively close from December 19-January 3. We look forward to resuming operations in January. 

Amherst College campus in a snowstorm. Image of two people walking in front of Charles Pratt Hall and Robert Frost statue Writing Center Consultations in January

The Writing Center will offer students a range of consultations over Zoom and email during the January term. Students may consult with associates to discuss writing, reading, and public speaking for your courses as well as for (job/school/fellowship) application essays, creative or personal projects, or a thesis. 

Advising thesis students?

Many seniors may plan to spend January immersed in the writing of their honors theses, and they may be looking for ways to structure their time, connect with others, and balance productivity with rest and self-care. The Writing Center will offer thesis students a virtual writing retreat to sustain their work in an environment of encouragement and camaraderie from January 12-15 and again January 19-22. (Registration in early January). Thesis students may also find the support they need for immersive writing in individual writing consultations. 

Teaching in January?

Please help us support your students by sharing your writing and presentation assignments and deadlines with the Writing Center. If you plan to encourage Writing Center visits among your students--and we hope you will!--please let us know. We expect that students will have faster turnaround time on assignments, but we can only adjust our schedules to accommodate that time table if we have enough notice to do so.

Would a thought partner be useful to you about now? If your course plans touch on reading, writing, and speaking, you are likely thinking hard about how to design a rigorous yet accessible experience for your students. Writing and speaking associates can help you develop realistic timelines for drafting and revising, low-stakes writing activities, and approaches to responding to students’ work. Please reach out to an associate directly or contact the director to initiate a consultation. 

Consider building workshops into your course design. One unique benefit of a compressed course is the opportunity to engage students through multiple modes of learning. Pairing your course content with practical workshops or facilitated co-working sessions supports students’ learning through practice and community. For instance, a writing or speaking associate might:

  • Host small-group sessions with your students to facilitate idea generation
  • Facilitate peer-review of drafts
  • Teach workshops on skills such as written argumentation, reading strategies, slide/poster design, or structuring a presentation.

To discuss possibilities for your class, please reach out to an associate directly or contact the director, preferably before Winter Break (but we will do our best to accommodate later requests).

September 2020 News

How is the Writing Center supporting students this fall?

Consultations: The Writing Center is 100% remote this year. Students can schedule consultations with associates to discuss writing, reading, and public speaking using our online scheduer, WCOnline. Both Zoom and email consultations are available.

Thesis Student Programs: The Writing Center and Library continue our programs that support the research and writing process for thesis students. We have built a Moodle site for program announcements, virtual community-building and accountability programs, and easy access to resources, and students can request access through this web form. We host a weekly drop-in Thesis Research Table on Fridays and will continue to build programming in response to student need. We also work with academic departments to support the unique disciplinary needs of thesis students. Contact us for details.

In addition:

  • The multilingual project Confluences continues to solicit new original work from the Amherst community and new translations of existing work.
  • The Creative Writing Group will resume its weekly drop-in meetings on Monday evenings starting September 14.
  • The Writing Center is collaborating with OSA to offer students robust time management support, from workshops to asynchronous resources.

How is the Writing Center supporting faculty who teach writing, reading, and public speaking this fall?

Associates continue to teach in-class workshops and consult with faculty using Zoom. It’s not too late to schedule in-class instruction for writing, reading, and public speaking, but please be in touch soon.

Looking for resources on antiracist writing pedagogy? The Writing Center has developed a new bibliography on recent literature on the intersection of antiracism and language, inclusing multi/translingualism, linguistic justice, and antiracist writing assessment. Please let us know if you'd be interested in joining a reading group or seminar on this topic. 

July 2020 News

The Writing Center will operate remotely this fall, in our appointment work with students, workshop instruction, and collaboration with faculty and fellow staff. 

Student Consultations

Students will have two options for individual consultations in writing, reading, and public speaking: 

  • Online appointments: Students can sign up for 45-minute sessions with an associate to discuss writing works-in-progress or to build skills in the areas of writing, reading, learning, and public speaking. Students book these sessions in our online scheduler and then receive a Zoom link prior to the meeting time.
  • Email Consultations are an asynchronous option that may appeal especially to students living in other time zones. Students select a day and an associate, upload materials (draft, prompt, and a writer’s memo), and will receive targeted feedback by email. 

Support for Writing, Reading, and Public Speaking Instruction

No matter the mode of instruction for your courses this fall, the Writing Center offers guidance for developing new or revised writing or presentation assignments, in-class or asynchronous activities to foster deep thinking and writing-to-learn, and frameworks based in inclusive and anti-racist pedagogies. The Writing Center is ready to support your re-imagined class experience:

  • Consult with an associate as you design your own instruction strategies for writing, reading, and public speaking.
  • Request that one of our associates design and teach a workshop (on Zoom or through asynchronous activities) for your class. See suggested topics for reference
  • Review pedagogy guides developed and collected by the Writing Center.

For instance, Writing and Public Speaking associates can facilitate:

  • integrating writing-to-learn pedagogy to deepen your students' engagement with course content (What is writing-to-learn?)
  • developing effective and goal-oriented peer-review activities to cultivate peer support, increase student confidence, and reinforce revision skills.
  • introducing students to creative ways to engage an audience live or on video, such as flash talks and multimedia presentations. 
  • transitioning away from a student-deficit model to strategies that empower students to develop metacognition, engage in reflection, and take intellectual risks.

Contact Us

Interested? Please reach out soon, whether you'd like to run some new assignment prompts past a test reader in August, schedule a workshop for October, or plan a series of visits for a scaffolded assignment sequence. You may contact an associate directly or write to our general account at writing@amherst.edu.

Faculty teaching first-year seminars in fall 2020 may wish to read about new aspects to our FYS Liaison Program.