Paper 1: Ideas Paper

This is your first training paper. (You can find it as an attachment at the bottom of this page.) For this module, you should treat this paper as if it were actually brought into the Writing Center. Your task is to formulate a response strategy for this paper.


 1. First, read the prompt for this essay sample, paying close attention to requirements. Your session will always be more fruitful if the student writer brings the assignment prompt, and you try to gain an understanding of the main goals of the assignment.

 2. Read the paper completely. Feel free to make marks on the paper where there are sections you'd like to discuss. I usually mark those areas with checkmarks.

 3. Remembering that it's important to begin sessions with what the writer's doing well, find (and post here) three things in the paper that you'd want to praise.

 4. Then identify and post three things in the paper that you want to address during the session that will help the student revise the paper (it is possible that some of these things will directly connect to the requirements in the prompt). Since you want to avoid overwhelming students with "what's wrong" with their paper, you'll want to consider which three things are most important to cover and stick with those.


Once you've identified the 6 elements (3 to praise, 3 areas for improvement), formulate an outline/overview for how you'd like to conduct the session. Be sure that your overview addresses these 6 elements and includes facilitative, open-ended, non-directive questions that will help the writer to see the value of your revision suggestions while still honoring her/his role as author of the piece. 


If your post doesn't include several such questions, I'll very likely ask you to revise your post in order to include them.


Final Thoughts


The goal of this exercise, then, is to get you to think strategically about what kind of session you'd conduct and to have you consider how best to formulate questions that facilitate the writer's understanding of their writing's effect on their audience rather than having you tell them how to "fix" the paper.


Refer to The Longman Guide pgs. 33-37 to assist you with this process. The hope is that your 6 identified elements and your facilitative questions will all relate to “higher order concerns.”


In a normal Writing Center session, some of the first facilitative questions you will most likely ask are “what is your understanding of the assignment?” and “what do you think your instructor expects from you?” In looking at an essay such as this one, it is possible that your understanding of the assignment prompt will conflict with the writer's understanding. This is something you will need to address (ideally with more facilitative questions). For example, you may want to ask the student to look at the prompt with you, and explain how they are understanding the assignment requirements as they read them. 


After you've created your session outline, be sure to read and respond to at least two of your colleagues' posts on this topic. 


Note: If you haven't written two responses, you will not be given credit for this training module.