UofL Writing Center

Who We Are and What We Do

Archive for the month “August, 2014”

Welcome to Fall 2014!

Bronwyn T. Williams, Director

The start of every academic year always involves new encounters. Students and faculty meet for the first time in classes, many students have new roommates, and many faculty have new colleagues. I think for everyone the anticipation – and uncertainty – is exciting and adds to the buzz around campus when the new semester begins. I always feel the excitement of the new semester when our pre-semester orientation at the University Writing Center takes place the Thursday before classes start. Writing Center Orientation is the

University Writing Center Staff - 2014-15

University Writing Center
Staff – 2014-15

day when I get to meet the new graduate students who will be working as consultants for the coming year. While I know about these new graduate students from what I’ve seen in their application files – where they went to school, for example – I don’t really know them at all. One of the things that is fun about the year ahead is getting to know these people, as people, as tutors, and as scholars. You can take a look at our website to find out about our staff for the coming academic year. It’s what I’ve yet to learn about the new consultants that will be part of what will make my year ahead interesting.

The new consultants all take a graduate course with me on Writing Center Theory and Practice and, through that I know that there are some foundational ideas about teaching writing that they will learn and use during their appointments with students. We talk about the need to work in dialogue with students and not edit their papers for them, for example, and the importance of not just helping students make their current drafts stronger, but also helping the students learn writing skills and strategies that will help with future writing challenges. Yet, while all the consultants are expected to adopt these foundational ideas, I also realize that everyone will develop an individual style as a tutor. Some consultants work quietly, others more effusively. Some consultants develop a talent for instructive metaphors, while others are masters of reaching and reassuring more reticent students. For me, seeing how these different approaches to tutoring develop is always fascinating and enjoyable. The one thing I do know, in meeting our new staff, is that all of the consultants are talented teachers who, grounded in theories of effective writing pedagogy, will provide thousands of UofL students, faculty, and staff with effective feedback and advice on their writing.

So, the University Writing Center is open for the semester. Make your appointment today and meet our great new staff in person.

 

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Kicking Back in the Writing Center with New First-Year Students

Thursday night, as part of Welcome Week for new first-year students, the Library opened its doors for games, performances, art, and food for a night called “Kick Back in the Stacks.” At the University Writing Center we had a caricature DSCN2300artists, cookies, art projects about writing, and word-related games from “hangman” to “who am I” to “tag-team Scrabble.” As the photos on the page show,   we had a packed house – and definitely a good time.

We also had an open

blog post that a number of people contributed to during the night. We left the post open for people to memories about writing. Below is the question we asked along with some of

the memories people shared. It’s always fascinating to see what moments stick with people as encouraging, inspiring – or sometimes frustrating – their ambitions as writers.

Here is the question and some of the responses:

What’s a memory you have (positive or negative) about writing?

  • I remember when I was in my sophomore year in high school, and I took a creative writing class. I’d been writing stories for a few years, and I was really excited to take an actual class. The teacher was enthusiastic, but I didn’t understand what he meant when he kept telling me “Use more concrete language,”
    Tag-Team Scrabble

    Tag-Team Scrabble

    and I was too shy/embarrassed to ask what he meant. By the end of the class, I figured I must not be any good at creative writing and stopped writing stories. Fortunately, I went back to it several years (and now I know what he meant), but I wish that (a) I’d had the courage to ask him for clarification, and (b) he’d been more helpful with his feedback.

  • When I was a freshman in college, I took a course titled “Writing About Fiction.” Initially, the course had little to do with writing or fiction, and the teacher seemed relatively disinterested in the class. Around halfway through, however, the class was changed, and another professor was brought into the course. He introduced to us the idea of rhetoric and affective writing. I had never thought about writing as a way of creating social effects, and for the rest of my college career I became fascinated by the relationship between writing and the act of constructing and manipulating social realities.
  • I remember learning
    DSCN2295

    Waiting for the artist

    how to spell the word “STOP” when I was riding in the car with my parents. I told my kindergarten teacher about this new knowledge. Sometime later, when learning lower-case letters, my teacher wrote “stop” on the board and asked me what word this was. I was stumped. I didn’t recognize it because it wasn’t capitalized. When she told me it was the same word I learned before, I felt silly. But it was the beginning of understanding.

  • When I was sixteen, I tried doing NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) with the goal of writing maybe ten thousand words on a story. I ended up surpassing the fifty thousand word goal and wrote a short novel (58,000 words) all within a month! To date, it remains the longest thing I’ve ever written. I have always dreamed of being a novelist, and that experience with NaNo proved to me that I have it in me to tell a long-form story and to draft it all out, even though I knew that I would never publish it. (Trust me, it’s really bad!)
  • The most positive memory I have about writing

    “What book/movie would you take to a desert island?”

    is from when I was five or Six. I woke up one morning and started staring at a metal statue of a church on my grandmother’s mantel. Suddenly a poem popped into my head, my grandmother typed it on her, now very antiquated, MacBook. It’s fourteen to fifteen years later and it’s one of my proudest accomplishments. In case you’re wondering, she still has it saved on that very same MacBook.

  • When I was in second grade I had to write a short story for class about your favorite character. I wrote about Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse on an adventure in a haunted house. The next year I had the same teacher because it was a two grade class, and my teacher chose the same assignment. Not thinking that she would remember, or even that I wrote it for her already, I wrote the same story in my journal. When she had read it she came up to me after class, and said that she thought she had heard the story before. I only realized it when I was older that I had given her the same story twice, but until then I just thought she had the same dream as me

We thank these writers for their contributions, and everyone who came to the Writing Center Thursday night (and all the Writing Center staff, present and past, who helped out.) It was a fun way to kick off the year and we hope to see everyone back during the semester so we can help them make their writing as strong as possible and create some positive memories of writing at UofL.

Summertime, and the Planning is Busy

Bronwyn T. Williams, Director

During the summer, the pace of things at the University Writing Center does slow, but doesn’t stop. We still see students working on summer courses, or those closing in on finishing their dissertations. We also spend much of the summer planning for the next academic year. One of the big changes we’ve been working this summer is fine-tuning our new, online scheduling system. This new system not only makes it easier for people to make appointments, but also is huge leap forward in making our Virtual Writing Center more effective and easier to use. I’ll be writing more about the scheduling system in the next few weeks, but if you want to see some videos about how to make an appointment or how to use the Virtual Writing Center if you’re a distance education student, you can watch some videos and read more about it on our Appointments page.

The beginning of August also means the beginning of orientations around UofL. We’re grateful to the schools and departments around UofL that invite us to their orientations to talk about the University Writing Center. Last week was the Kent School of Social work, today we’re off to the Health Sciences Campus, and next week we’ll be visiting the School of Interdisciplinary and Graduate Studies (SIGS) orientation and several others. One of our ongoing challenges at the Writing Center is making clear to the campus community who we are and what we do. Everywhere we go, we emphasize that we work with everyone in the UofL community, including all undergraduates, graduate students, and staff and faculty. What’s more, we work with people on any kind of writing – whether for academic work or projects outside of school – at any point in the writing process. If people are just getting started, we can help with ideas and organization, and if they have drafts we can help provide feedback and advice then as well. If it’s writing, and if the writer is part of the UofL community, we’re happy to work on it. For people wanting more details on how we work, we have new Frequently Asked Questions on our webpage or you can read our Mission Statement.

We’ve also been planning our Graduate Student Workshops on Writing Issues, in collaboration with SIGS. If you’re a graduate student and would like to hear more about issues such as how to organize a large writing project such as a dissertation, or how to read and respond to graduate-level scholarship, or how to approach getting published, you can find more information and register for the workshops by visiting the SIGS PLAN website.

Finally, like many other faculty, I’m in the midst of planning my fall courses. This is the time of year we try to remind faculty that we are available to come to their classrooms this fall semester for brief 5-to-10-minute presentations about the University Writing Center. We find that, having one of our consultants come to your class, talk about the Writing Center and answer questions, is one of the best ways we have of reaching out to students at every level and in every discipline. If you want to schedule a classroom presentation, just follow this link. If you want to learn more about how we work with your students in the Writing Center, you can find answers to those questions on our website as well.

Stay tuned for more news about our plans for the coming year. And, enjoy those last warm days of August.

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