Slouching toward virtual spaces: Reflections on writing support during COVID-19

By Patty A. Kelly
Vol. 1, No. 9 (Spring 2020)

Patty A. Kelly’s research focuses on scientific, medical, and psychiatric discourse from rhetorical and discourse analytic perspectives. Her recent article, “The Development of American Psychiatry’s Professional Style: DSM-III’s ‘Common Language’,” is published in Rhetoric of Health & Medicine.

As Program Manager of the Centre for Writing and Scholarly Communication at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, she designs evidence-based programming for undergraduate and graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, and faculty members.

“Turning and turning in the widening gyre”

Why do I keep thinking of that opening line from the W. B. Yeats[1] poem “The Second Coming”? Each time I click on a link to join a meeting or start a workshop, my English literature past returns to haunt the rhetorician in me with fragments from the poem. Each day, my fatigue with physical distancing builds, and the at-home workplace finds me slouching toward virtual spaces.

“Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold” Continue reading “Slouching toward virtual spaces: Reflections on writing support during COVID-19”

Video Chat || Programming, technology, and resource development during the COVID-19 disruption

A Writing Centre Directors’ & Managers’ Roundtable

Clare Bermingham, University of Waterloo, Guest editor
Stephanie Bell, York University, Co-editor
Brian Hotson, Saint Mary’s University, Co-editor

With all the changes to writing centres due to the COVID-19 disruption, many directors and managers are asking questions, wanting to know, “What is everybody doing to manage this change?” To help with this, we organized the blog’s first Video Chat (hopefully the first of many). These Video Chats are moderated text-based and video-based discussions. The blog editors invite proposals for Video Chat topics and guest editors to moderate them.

Below are the elements from the Video Chat, including:

  • Topics, discussion questions, and agenda
  • Recording of the video-based discussion
  • Transcript of the text-based discussion
  • A google spreadsheet of topics, questions, and ideas from the Video Chat

We hope that you find this useful for your writing centre. Continue reading “Video Chat || Programming, technology, and resource development during the COVID-19 disruption”

Video Chat || Writing Centre Directors’ and Managers’ Roundtable

Programming, Technology, & Resource Development during COVID-19

Directors’ and Managers’ Roundtable
Tuesday, April 7th
1:00 – 2:30 pm EST

Registration limited
Click to Register


Come together with other writing centre directors and managers to discuss programming, technology, and resource development during the COVID-19 disruption. Learn from each other, and provide your own strategies, failures and successes.

Registration limited to 7 participants
One participant per writing centre

Facilitators:
Clare Bermingham (University of Waterloo) and Brian Hotson (Saint Mary’s University)

Notetaker:
Stephanie Bell (York University)


Canadian writing centres respond to COVID-19 – final instalment

CWCR/RCCR editorial team
Liv Marken, Stephanie Bell, & Brian Hotson
Vol. 1, No. 8 (Winter 2020)

Now that we’re all a week into this new reality of writing centre work, and university life in general, here are two final submissions from our colleagues at UBC and UOttawa, and their responses to COVID-19.

We continue to want to hear from you. If you have related stories, please contact us at cwcr.rccr@gmail.com. Continue reading “Canadian writing centres respond to COVID-19 – final instalment”

Canadian writing centres respond to COVID-19 – March 19, 2020

CWCR/RCCR editorial team
Liv Marken, Stephanie Bell, & Brian Hotson

Over the previous two posts, our colleagues spoke to the adaptation and changes they’ve made due to COVID-19. In this third instalment, writing centres from northern Manitoba, Québec, Ontario, and Alberta speak to their experiences.

If you have a story you want to tell about your experience responding to COIVD-19, please send 2-3 paragraphs to cwcr.rccr@gmail.com. Enter “COVID-19 response” in the subject line. Thanks.
Continue reading “Canadian writing centres respond to COVID-19 – March 19, 2020”

Canadian writing centres respond to COVID-19 – March 18, 2020

CWCR/RCCR editorial team
Liv Marken, Stephanie Bell, & Brian Hotson
Vol. 1, No. 7 (Winter 2020)

From the previous post, there are common themes and processes centres are following. What is apparent is the ability to adapt and pull together programming quickly. With so much uncertainty, we’re all planning for the best while looking at all the unknowns.

We asked twenty writing centres from coast to coast to coast to provide a short description of their centre’s response to COVID-19. We will publish these responses in parts by the day they were received, from March 17th to March 19th.

Below is a snapshot of our colleagues’ writing centres from March 18, 2020. Continue reading “Canadian writing centres respond to COVID-19 – March 18, 2020”

Canadian writing centres respond to COVID-19 – March 17, 2020

CWCR/RCCR editorial team
Liv Marken, Stephanie Bell, & Brian Hotson
Vol. 1, No. 6 (Winter 2020)

As Heraclitus continually reminds us, everything changes, constantly, but the tempo and severity of change from COVID-19 has overwhelmed and challenged us all in our writing centres. We wondered how other institutions around the country are coping with the fallout from COVID-19.

We asked twenty writing centres from coast to coast to coast to provide a short description of their centre’s response to COVID-19. We will publish these responses in parts by the day they were received, from March 17th to March 19th.

Below is a snapshot of our colleagues’ writing centres from March 17, 2020. Continue reading “Canadian writing centres respond to COVID-19 – March 17, 2020”

A deeper understanding of writing: A reflection on advocacy

GIF of Stephanie Bell saying cheers with her coffee mug.

By Stephanie Bell, Co-editor, CWCR/RCCR
Vol. 1, No. 5 (Winter 2020)

With guest editor,
Holly Salmon, CWCA/ACCR board member, Coordinator and Instructor, Learning Centre Instructor, English Department, Douglas College


How do you describe the role of writing centres in higher education? I find that my efforts to articulate a narrative that moves beyond descriptions of programming and pedagogy are centred on advocacy and education about the nature of writing. What is good writing? This question has high stakes for higher education, and writing specialists located in writing centres have the expertise required to shape the answer. Continue reading “A deeper understanding of writing: A reflection on advocacy”

How Ryerson is leading Canadian universities in multimodal writing support

Animated GIF that reads "creators welcome"

By Stephanie Bell & Brian Hotson
Vol. 1, No. 4 (Winter 2020)

An interview with John Hannah and Tesni Ellis from Ryerson University’s Student Affairs Special Projects & Storytelling team


Despite a dramatic rise of plug-and-play applications for producing and publishing multimodal web content, their migration into higher education classrooms has been slow. Likewise, support from Canada’s writing centres has remained fixed on traditional genres of writing, such as the research paper, lab report, and literature review. While researching for our forthcoming book on the future of multimodal digital writing support for students by Canadian writing centres/programs, we’ve been unable to find many programs of tutoring multimodal writing and production in university writing centre contexts. A noteworthy outlier is the Multiliteracy Support Appointments program listed on Ryerson’s Writing Support website.

We contacted John Hannah and Tesni Ellis at Ryerson to chat about their multimedia supports. John is Director, Special Projects in Student Affairs and former director of the Writing Centre, English Language support, and Graduate Student Support. Tesni is Coordinator, Student Affairs Storytelling within Student Affairs, and a former Writing Consultant at Ryerson’s Writing Centre herself.


Stephanie: Hi John and Tesni – thanks for agreeing to talk with us. Given that there seems to be slow uptake on this front, we’re interested in how your program got started. Can you tell us that story?  Continue reading “How Ryerson is leading Canadian universities in multimodal writing support”

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

By Kristin Welbourn
Vol. 1, No. 2 (Winter 2020)

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”