“Grammar and its (Dis)Contents”

Uncategorized / Wednesday, March 3rd, 2010


By Emily Hall

On February 12, the Writing Fellows Program hosted its annual Joint Writing Center/Writing Fellows Staff Meeting.  The meeting focused on grammar and how Writing Center instructors and Writing Fellows can and should address students’ concerns about grammar in their sessions.  This year, our staff of 50 undergraduate Writing Fellows, close to 50 graduate WC instructors, and numerous academic staff was joined by writing center tutors from Edgewood College and UW-Waukesha.  The addition of tutors from other institutions created wonderful opportunities for exchanges of experience and knowledge.

The meeting consisted of workshops led jointly by a Writing Fellow and a Writing Center TA. Here’s what we discussed:

  • Grammar Across the Disciplines: Different Ways to Write, Different Ways to Teach Grammar? Led by John Bradley (WC) and Rachel Witt (WF)


  • Grammar:” Definitions and Interpretations Led by Annie Massa-Macleod (WC) and Alicia Williams (WF)



  • Grammar Workshop Led by Brian Kaufenberg(WF)  and Katie Lynch (WC)


  • Teach, Don’t Edit: Grammar in Multilingual Writing Locations Led by Rebecca Lorimer (WC) and Rebecca Rozek (WF)
  • The Writing Center/Writing Fellows Stance on Grammar: What Is It?  What Should It Be? Led by Sarah Harrison (WC) and Matt Regner (WF)


By all accounts, the meeting was a great success.  While some tutors honed their own grammar prowess in the grammar workshop, others debated the multiple meanings of grammar or ruminated on the place and importance of grammar in our many different tutoring sessions. Many of us came away from the meeting with a sense that grammar can provide us with a way in to discussing and addressing global and conceptual issues writers face.  There were delicious refreshments and lots of opportunities opportunities for tutors to do what WC/WF tutors do best—collaborate with thoughtful peers!

3 Replies to ““Grammar and its (Dis)Contents””

  1. I really appreciated this stimulating discussion of grammar and the questions I left with . . . for example, how does “grammar” differ across the disciplines? Thanks to the organizers and presenters!

  2. […] 3.     We discussed, often quite pointedly, ways to express all that we could do for writers and the limits on what we could do. Our desire here was to tackle a deep-seated writing center culture myth that writing centers don’t do grammar or teach editing. For many students, unfortunately, the myth is the reality. At UW-Madison, we’ve yearly offered workshops to help students with grammar, our Online Writer’s Handbook provides several resources to help students become self-sufficient editors and proofreaders, and our instructors regularly teach writers one-t0-one how to become their own best readers. And UW’s Writing Center instructors will gladly work with you to help you improve your knowledge on any of these issues, especially if this knowledge will lead to greater rhetorical awareness and confidence as a writer. (For another great post on writing centers and the grammar question, see Emily Hall’s Grammar and its (Dis)Contents.) […]

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