Some free pizza sealed the deal: Founding the Millwood High School Writing Centre

By Kristin Welbourn

Kristin Welbourn is the Millwood High School Librarian in Middle Sackville, Nova Scotia. Millwood High School has 800 students.


Millwood High School is a fairly typical school for the area, an area of mostly working-class families. It might seem an odd place for what appears to be the only high school writing centre in Atlantic Canada to originate.

Kristin Wellbourn

About two years ago, I was invited to a high school staff meeting where teachers were reviewing the Grade 10 provincial exam results from the previous three years. As the school Librarian, I don’t usually attend that type of meeting, but the head of the English Department was kind enough to include me in this one. Even to my non-English teacher eyes, it quickly became apparent that when it came to writing, our students’ scores were slipping. Continue reading “Some free pizza sealed the deal: Founding the Millwood High School Writing Centre”

The Pilcrow Studio Writing Retreat

Writing is at once two steps away from conversation and a return to conversation. We converse; we internalize conversation as thought; and then by writing, we re-immerse conversation in its external, social medium.” (Bruffee, p. 641)

The Pilcrow Studio Writing Retreat offers writing studies’ scholars the opportunity to write in community with colleagues from across the country. Proposals should involve research projects intended for publication in the fields of writing centres or writing studies, with a view towards writing pedagogy.

May 24th – May 27th, 2020
Bluewater, Ontario 

Call for proposals closes Monday, Feb. 3, 2020


images_from_summer_of_2006_165
Lake Huron

The idea for this came from a deep desire to create small scholarly writing retreat. As writers and scholars, we have little time to write. And when we write we often write alone, in between classes, or on Saturday afternoons between children’s swimming lessons and play-dates. There’s not enough time at conferences to share in writing. At a retreat we can have a practice together that can result in strengthened thinking, shared ideas, and important contributions to the literature of writing centres and writing studies.

A retreat provides space for tutors, program administrators, instructors, and researchers to write, discuss, enjoy, and share in developing and moving writing projects forward. We know, as scholars of composing process and writing pedagogy, conversation is central to writing and the construction of knowledge.Being together in a space for three or four days, this conversation happens on paper and screens, and around tables and evening fires. Continue reading “The Pilcrow Studio Writing Retreat”

Writing centre is spelled -re

CWCA/ACCR President’s message
Sarah King, Director, UTSC Writing Centre
Vol. 1, No. 1 (Winter 2020)

Pencil sketch of Sarah King
Portrait by Sarah’s daughter

It is my great pleasure, as President of the Canadian Writing Centres Association/L’Association des centres canadiennes de rédaction (CWCA/ACCR), to welcome the arrival of the CWCR/RCCR blog onto the Canadian writing centre scene. 

Writing centres are deeply rooted in anglo-Canada, and their form and context is very different from those in the United States. CWCA/ACCR members Michael Kaler and Tyler Evans-Tokaryk’s (University of Toronto) recent (2019) CJSDW/r article lays out the history and unique features of the writing studies scene in Canada, picking up on the work of Margaret Proctor as well as of Heather and Roger Graves to observe that in Canadian universities, “writing centres are often responsible for the design and delivery of much of the writing instruction…whether it is offered through face-to-face appointments, workshops, online resources, or a WAC program” (108). They emphasize not only the central role of writing centres in teaching writing in Canada, but the diversity of our mandates, roles, and institutional locations. And these differences continue beyond large, faculty-lead universities, to writing centres in community colleges, and public and private high schools. 

To support this wide range of centres, we need a publication where writing centre is spelled -re, a space for written discussion of the theories, pedagogies, and politics of writing centres in Canada. We need to learn more about one another and ourselves—in the words of the blog mission, we need a space to “facilitate collective storytelling about Canadian sites of writing tutoring and mentorship.” 

From my perspective as President of CWCA/ACCR, the timing of the CWCR/RCCR is perfect. CWCA started a two-year strategic planning exercise, with the goal of better understanding the needs and interests of Canadian writing centre professionals, graduate and undergraduate tutors, so we can plot our course as an association. 

Personally, I am excited about the blog format. We are still a small enough community that we can be personal. While the CWCA/ACCR conference has grown, we all fit in one lecture hall, and we can all go for a preconference dinner at a restaurant—no hotel ballroom needed. CJSDW/r offers all of us in Canadian writing centres an excellent venue for formal articles. CWCR/RCCR creates another venue, a place to share and even test ideas, projects, histories, and theories before they are fully formal, before or after a workshop at the conference, and to write in a mode that is both scholarly and personal. 

As writing centre professionals and practitioners, we work with writers on a daily basis, offering feedback and advice. Yes, talk about writing is vital to writing centres. But so is writing, and it is all-too-easy to avoid the messy, challenging, excruciating, and exhilarating business of writing ourselves. I know you have a story to share about an initiative from your centre, a teaching or administrative challenge met. I know you have been waiting for a reason to spend some time with the relevant research literature. Particularly if you have not recently written or published scholarly work, I encourage you to take up your pen, your stylus, your keyboard of choice. And then, at whatever stage in the writing process you find it most valuable, go into your writing centre, find a tutor, and sit, for once, in the writer’s chair. 

I look forward to reading you very soon.

References

Kaler, M., and Evans-Tokaryk, T. (2019). Reflecting on Assessment: Strategies and tools for measuring the impact of a Canadian WAC program. Canadian Journal for Studies in Discourse and Writing 29. pp. 107-132.