By Annette Vee—Like every other teacher in higher education right now, I’m navigating the new terrain of socially distanced, online, hybrid or hyflex teaching due to our global pandemic. I’m also a writing program administrator, which means that I share some responsibility to help other teachers navigate this terrain as well. Conscious of the labor issues of instructors preparing new classes in flex, hybrid or online contexts, I’m digging into my online toolbox to share strategies that might work for others in this context and for the future, after the pandemic. The best little tool I have for teaching online or in hybrid formats is a class blog. […]
By Kyle Smith—This spring, Madison Writing Assistance (MWA)—represented by Associate Director Angela Zito, Assistant Director Weishun Lu, and myself, an MWA instructor—asked members of the Madison community to tell us about their relationship with writing. As the community-outreach arm of the UW-Madison Writing Center, MWA works with anyone in the Madison area who has a writing project they want to develop or improve. MWA’s patrons work with us on projects ranging from […]
By the Writing Center Leadership Team TA Award Committee—For the past five years, the Writing Center has celebrated our excellent instructors by honoring selected students with teaching awards. Each semester, we have between 45 and 50 doctoral-level teaching assistants who work with our students in one-to-one writing instruction, provide outreach across campus, lead workshops, and more. To select our award winners, we invite our teaching assistants to nominate their colleagues or themselves for these awards. Nominees are invited to apply by submitting […]
By Ellen Cecil-Lemkin and Lisa Marvel Johnson—As several scholars have already pointed out (Dembsey; Hitt; Kiedaisch and Dinitz to name a few), historically, the scholarship on disability in the writing center is… not great (to put it lightly). It’s seeped in ableism by positioning disabled writers as “other” and problems that need to be solved. This framing leads to positioning disabled students “as so radically different from other students that they are beyond help—that they require too much time, resources, or special knowledge” (Hitt). This perspective, however, goes beyond ableism that occurs on an individual level. […]
By Veronica Hayes and Faith Kim—One year ago, the annual Joint Staff meeting between the University of Wisconsin-Madison undergraduate Writing Fellows program and the Writing Center marked the last time the Center’s full staff gathered in person before students were sent home and our work shifted online. At the annual meeting, Fellows typically give presentations on the research they conduct in their Writing Fellows tutor education seminar, English 403. Those presentations lead to collaborative and meaningful exchanges between Fellows and Writing Center instructors, who appreciate the opportunity to engage with original research on tutoring. […]
By Amanda May—My investment in writing center social media usage and non-usage grew out of my personal and professional social media practice. I still remember going to the Southeastern Writing Center Association’s 2016 conference and meeting Molly Wright, who ran the Facebook group Writing Center Network. At the time, that was my only connection to the writing center field because I was the sole writing center employee on campus. Molly convinced me to join Twitter because of #wcchat, a biweekly professional event that writing center administrators and tutors used to discuss writing center issues. […]
By Jennifer Conrad—When we entered the spaces of online learning a year ago, few of us could have guessed what the time would hold. On the one hand, this past year has been one of shared experience: all of us are finding our way through a global pandemic, with all of its uncertainty, political and social unrest, boredom, loneliness, and other associated experiences. On the other hand, this time has been one that is deeply individual: each of us passing time in our quarantine “bubbles.”
By Gabrielle Isabel Kelenyi, on behalf of the Writing Center’s Antiracism Standing Committee, and featuring Dean Eric Wilcots—Writing happens. It happens everywhere and all the time, even when we’re not writing an essay. Furthermore, writing is important because we use it to communicate important ideas and information, to express ourselves, to make the particular more universal, to reach out and connect with one another. […]
By Ellen Cecil-Lemkin—Just last month, I was hired as a Faculty Associate for the UW-Madison Writing Center, and I could not be more excited to join this amazing team of administrators and instructors! Joining a writing center team, in a lot of ways, feels like coming home. I started my journey in writing studies after working as an undergraduate writing consultant at the University of Central Florida […]
By Dorothy Mayne—As I entered the Undergraduate Library at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign for my shift as a tutor in the writing center one day in the fall of 2015, I noticed a new and overwhelming number of flyers and posters for Grammarly, the automated written corrective feedback (AWCF) software. As the flyers purported, students could use Grammarly to help “perfect” their writing. […]
By Jon Isaac—Last March, like every other instructor in the country, I shifted my course—a once-weekly graduate course on writing pedagogy—from in-person to entirely online. Along with the inevitable technological glitches, I also had to attend to the constantly-evolving conversations happening in and beyond higher education circles about rethinking expectations, student engagement, community-building, and evaluation. The questions that ran through my head as I imagined how my course would proceed for the final two months of the semester may sound familiar to you: Should I transition to entirely asynchronous instruction and just use online discussions on Canvas? Should I decrease the word limits of assignments and expectations for student engagement? How could our class possibly maintain the sense of community we had in person?
From Chrissy Widmayer—Looking back on the Writing Center’s Fall 2020 semester, I am awed by all that we have been able to do. Alongside our students, we grappled every day with new challenges posed by the pandemic, adapting to an entirely online slate of services this semester, and sought to maintain the high level of professionalism we always offer. I am grateful for the patience our students have shown as we’ve adjusted to our new methods of teaching and so pleased with the reciprocal culture of care the Writing Center has fostered this semester. […]
By Gabrielle Isabel Kelenyi—What comes to mind when you think of the Writing Center? Perhaps you think of a place where you can receive help with your writing; a place where you can take your writing to the next level; a place where you can brainstorm ideas for a first draft, get feedback on a second draft, and put the finishing touches on a final draft… before submitting it to be evaluated by a professor, a TA, an admissions committee, a potential supervisor. That is, the Writing Center is typically thought of as a place where writers can receive short-term and long-term assistance with academic writing. But what if the Writing Center could be more? […]
By Calley Marotta and Jennifer Conrad—In May of 2020, two months after the sudden jump to online-only instruction necessitated by COVID-19, our writing center held its first virtual Dissertation Writing Camp. Co-sponsored by UW-Madison’s Graduate School and facilitated by Writing Center instructors, the central goals of this camp have always been to support writing and its production during a compressed timeline and to provide dissertators with a community of fellow graduate student writers engaged in the same effort. The decision to host this long-running camp online rather than in person felt provisional, and yet necessary amid so much upheaval.
By Emily Bouza, Tim Cavnar, and Keli Tucker—Multilingual students should be celebrated for what they bring to academia. In this post, we hope to share what it looks like to support multilingualism in education. Emily’s section will cover different frameworks for understanding multilingual practice, Tim’s section will discuss language ideologies as a framework for thinking and talking about language and writing, and Keli’s section will propose a translingual disposition as a possible move toward a more inclusive writing center pedagogy.
By Siri Carpenter—My path to becoming a professional writer was a wayward one. Toward the end of my undergraduate career at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where I was a psychology major in the early 1990s, I had the sudden inspiration that I wanted to be a writer. But when a friend asked me a perfectly reasonable question—“What do you want to write about?”—I was stumped. I stammered that I figured I’d write about . . . uh . . . whatever seemed interesting, and that . . . hrmmm . . . I was especially interested in science. […]
By Mckenna Kohlenberg—For Black men in the contemporary age of mass incarceration, the consequences of functional illiteracy are devastating. 70% of America’s adult incarcerated population and 85% of juveniles who interface with the juvenile court system are functionally illiterate, which extends beyond the ability to read and includes the development of problem-solving and critical-thinking skills one needs to access knowledge, communicate, and participate effectively in political processes, the economy, higher education, and other 21st century exercises of democratic citizenship. […]
From Nancy Linh Karls and Emily Hall—In August, 2020, thanks to the support of English department chair Anja Wanner, associate dean for humanities Sue Zaeske, and L&S Dean Eric Wilcots (among many others), UW-Madison’s Writing Center was fortunate to welcome five new, full-time academic staff members. During the summer of 2020, our search committee reviewed over 116 applications for “outstanding and energetic administrators/teachers” […]
From the Directors—We are happy to welcome you to the Fall 2020 at UW-Madison’s Writing Center. In doing so, we’d first like to acknowledge the unique stressors of this semester. The Spring 2020 semester called for quick transitions to virtual and physically distanced services, surrounded by uncertainty and individual-level issues for us all in a global pandemic. […]
By Mia Alafaireet—As an undergraduate student at the University of Missouri, one of the things I loved most about campus was that it seemed like there were endless places to write. There was the tried-and-true Bookmark Café, where you could count on the muted din of coffee cups to keep you focused. On a sunny day, you could find a spot under one of the many Bradford pear trees that studded campus. Or, if you were a little bit weird like me, you could sit on the edge of a flowerbed and write amongst the horticulture school’s newest arrangement of ornamental cabbages. […]