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English 214: Tutoring Writing
Spring 2006
Tuesdays, 7-9 p.m., Miller 008

Instructor: Aimée Jack
Office: Miller 009C
Available: Monday-Friday, 10:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m.
Phone: 5290
E-mail: aljack

"Find enough clever things to say, and you're a Prime Minister; write them down and you're a Shakespeare."
-George Bernard Shaw

Course Introduction

English 214, Tutoring Writing, is designed to combine the theory and practice of peer tutoring in writing while exploring your individual writing processes. The course will discuss and evaluate current topics in writing center discourse, including different conceptualizations of literacy and language, collaboration vs. plagiarism, genre, and tutoring methodology. During the course of the semester, we will discuss practical techniques by which we can apply these concepts not only in day-to-day tutoring, but also (and just as importantly) in our own writing.

Together, we will investigate many questions, such as, where are the intersections of theory and practice in our own writing center relationships? How do these concepts and theories affect us as writers? What are the power dynamics that shape our interactions in the writing center and how do we negotiate them? What are the effects of our choices, immediate and long-term, individual and collective? What is the writing center's larger role, in the contexts of the institution, the local community, and the academy at large? How can we, as tutors, be most helpful to students while feeling the weight of this entire discourse?

By combining a dual-natured course structure of class discussion and a practical component, you will begin to develop your own strategies and ideological stances on working with writers, helping you to become a more critical tutor and writer yourself. You will see how the many different topics we discuss will illuminate and affect your own writing styles. There is no "right" approach to tutoring; this course will not offer a singular methodology, but rather it will illustrate ways in which disagreement and tension among our ideas and practices can generate productive dialogue and action.

Course Materials

Required text: Harvey, Michael. The Nuts and Bolts of College Writing. Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Company, Inc. 2003.

Weekly readings: The weekly readings are all available online through "E-Reserves." Since the class is dependent upon active, student-led discussion, you are required to print each reading and bring to it class each week. I recommend that you print each week's selections either in the library or in one of the many computer labs on campus.

Writing selections: A large part of this course will devoted to practical tutoring sessions. To allow stronger personal connections between you and the different methodologies we explore, the writing we tutor in these practical sessions will be pieces you have written in the past or are writing now. Each class (unless told otherwise) please come prepared with a short 3-10 page writing sample that you can use in the practical sessions. You do not have to write these pieces for EN214; they can be drafts, outlines, creative writing, etc already written and used in other classes. At the end of class I will make an announcement about what type of writing we will be tutoring in the next week's session, so you can select accordingly.

"I never know what I think about something until I read what I've written on it."
-William Faulkner

Course work

Panel Presentations

Assignment outline: Every week there will be small group "panel presentations" lasting one hour each. The presentation has two purposes: 1) To consider the content of the weekšs texts, the texts' relationships to previous readings or writing center activities, and to raise questions for the class to consider and 2) To provide a grammar/style review for the class, drawing on a topic from The Nuts and Bolts of College Writing. The group will facilitate discussion AND create activities that will build on, question, and complicate the weekšs reading material and the selected grammar/style topic.

Assignment logistics: At our first meeting, I will ask for your top three panel preferences. After class ends, I will divide up the class according to people's choices and notify the class by the next meeting, so the first group will have adequate time to prepare for their panel presentation. During the semester, the panels must meet with me by the Friday before their presentation (at the latest) to go over ideas, to consider an agenda for their presentation, and to inform me which topic the panel has chosen from The Nuts and Bolts of College Writing. (Ideally, there will be some kind of short written or game-like activity to accompany the grammar/style portion of the presentation.) In addition, please note that the primary goal of the panel presentations is to engage the class in reflection, discussion, and exploration of the week's readings, not to offer extended summary or a lengthy grammar lesson. A good rule of thumb is to spend 50 minutes presenting on the readings (with time for discussion) and 10 minutes focusing on grammar/style. The topics for each week often include controversial and highly debatable aspects. These potential conflicts are an ideal place in which to root your panel's presentation and will result in a much more engaging and successful class session. I urge you to meet with your panel members as early as possible, and to set up a meeting with me as soon as you can; this work requires critical thinking and active engagement, and this type of learning is best done when there is enough time and space for it to happen.

Tutoring experience

Assignment outline: The major part of this course focuses on the theories and techniques of peer tutoring. Research asserts and I agree that practical experience with these concepts leads to a more thorough understanding. By drawing on the resources of the Colby College Farnham Writers' Center, you will be able to do a series of visits/sessions in the Writers' Center to further comprehend and engage with the foundations of peer tutoring.

Assignment logistics: Throughout the course of the semester (deadlines listed on the semester schedule) each of you will be required to observe a tutorial and be tutored in the Writers' Center. In addition, if you intend to apply for a tutoring position in the Writers' Center, you will also be required to tutor a tutor, tutor a student, and take a shift at the Writers' Center end of semester tutoring marathon called "Write Around the Clock." After each experience, please e-mail me, by the next class meeting, a very brief (one page maximum, size 12 pt. font, double spaced, one inch margins) evaluation of your experience in the Writers' Center. For each visit after the first, these brief responses should also describe any changes in your perspectives or processes since your last visit.

Dialogue journals

Assignment outline: Assignment outline: The responses for this course will be in the form of dialogue journals, meaning that you will work with an assigned partner to compose a journal that responds to the weekly readings and our in-class discussions. These journals serve two purposes: 1) To demonstrate your own understanding (not necessarily complete comprehension and mastery) of the weekly readings and 2) To reflect on and respond to your classmates' thoughts and conceptualizations of the week's topic.

Assignment logistics: You will be assigned a "journal partner" at the beginning of the course. By 4:00 p.m. each Monday, you will be responsible for submitting a two-page (minimum length) response paper (12 pt. font, double spaced, one inch margins) to both your partner and me (via e-mail) on alternate weeks. In your journal, you should briefly summarize the main arguments or themes of the readings. More importantly, you should also spend time elaborating, problematizing, and finding personal and intertextual connections with the selections. Finally, you will respond to your partner's reflections on the readings and raise questions and ideas of your own.

In other words: You only have to write EVERY OTHER WEEK. When you do not have a response due, your partner does. Your papers should include approximately one page of your thoughts and conclusions about the readings and one page of response to what your partner wrote. PLEASE NOTE: I do not have e-mail at my home and I leave at 4:00 p.m. Consequently, if I do not have your e-mail BY 4:00, it will be late.

At midterm and at the end of the semester, I will ask you and your partner to submit a portfolio containing hard copies of your dialogue, a collaborative one-page introduction that addresses the themes and concepts of your portfolio, and a collaborative one-page conclusion that offers an evaluation of your and your partneršs dialogue journal process.

Final project

Assignment outline: As you will note on the syllabus, two class meetings are devoted to Writing across the Curriculum, or the different approaches required for writing in different subject areas. The final project for EN214 will further address these topics and draw on the resources that Colby has to offer in conjunction with synthesizing the topics we studied throughout the course and give us a way to navigate this intersection of theory and practice. The main purpose of this project is to allow us to draw connections between the theories of peer tutoring and the realities of writing in the different disciplines here at Colby.

Assignment logistics: We will collaboratively compose a series of questions addressing the nuances of writing in diverse subject areas. We will then use these questions to divide into small groups and interview different members of the faculty. We will spend one class meeting close to the end of the semester to organize and thematize the responses to our inquiries and to see the concrete ways they affect our tutoring and personal writing. After organizing these responses, I will divide you again into small groups by order of preference and each small group will produce a poster outlining and presenting the results of our interviews that will stay in the Writers' Center as an "EN214 Legacy."

Course policies

EN 214 is a non-graded course. In order to receive a "pass" and two credits, you must demonstrate satisfactory engagement with the material, complete all assignments, and contribute to the dynamic and multi-faceted environment we will work together to create.


To get credit, you must be here. EN214 meets once a week, meaning that every class meeting is vital and a large portion of your evaluation depends on your attendance. The Colby College Catalogue outlines the attendance policy of the school at large as: "Students are expected to attend all of their classes and scheduled course events in any semester or January and are responsible for any work missed. Failure to attend can lead to a warning, grading penalties, and/or dismissal from a course with a failing grade. Individual instructors determine whether students can be excused from classes or scheduled course events, and whether exams can be postponed or deadlines extended. Instructors also determine whether options are available for completing work when College-sponsored activities or events (e.g., musical performances or athletic competitions) conflict with a class or lab. It is the responsibility of students to communicate promptly and directly with instructors concerning these matters." That said, I understand life often creates extenuating circumstances. You have one ABSENCE COUPON which allows you one absence, excused or unexcused, with no penalty. After this coupon has been used, a note from the Health Center, family doctor, or athletic coach explaining your absence, is required.


To get credit, you must participate. In preparation for class you should complete the reading selections, print and bring along those selections, and be prepared to be questioned and to ask questions about the text. This is not a lecture course; in fact, I will not be lecturing, but facilitating the discussions led by you. In addition, this course is rooted in the principles of collaboration, so please do not be bashful about sharing your ideas and your work.


To get credit, you must not only do the work, but also do it well. Though EN214 is not graded, credit can only be awarded if coursework is completed to a satisfactory level. (Please see the attached Evaluation Standards sheet for more details.) This means that work is turned in on time and that it demonstrates intellectual and personal involvement. If a piece of work does not meet these standards, credit will not be awarded. You have, however, one LATE WORK COUPON and one "DO-OVER" COUPON which allow you to pass in one assignment late with no penalty and re-do one assignment that does not meet the standards of evaluation laid out for this course.

Extra Credit

Over the course of the semester, I will also offer a variety of extra credit activities (typically outside of class enrichment events), each of which will be worth one point. When you accumulate five points, you can opt to double one of the coupons. I will inform the class ahead of time of potential extra credit activities.

Special Needs

Please discuss any potential issues that may have an effect on your participation and work in this course. In addition, if you need special assistance or consideration due to learning differences or a disability, please make me aware so I can work with you to create a more positive and beneficial learning experience.

Final note

EN214 is a non-graded course, but I treat it and expect you to treat it with the same level of respect and engagement that you would give to any course. This syllabus explicitly outlines my expectations and hopes for EN214 and I look at it as a commitment to you. By enrolling in this course, you are agreeing to uphold your "end of the bargain" as well. Please know that my goal is to help you understand and develop yourself as a writer and to explore, question, and put into practice the different methods of peer tutoring. In order to successfully navigate this course together, it is important that you communicate with me often and without hesitation about concerns, comments (positive and negative), and anything that will make EN214 a more enriching and better experience.

"Enter the writing process with a childlike sense of wonder and discovery. Let it surprise you."
-­Charles Ghigna

Semester schedule

Each class meeting will be divided in two sections, with a short break in between. The first hour will be devoted to the panel presentations and the second hour to practical tutoring exercises. The reading selections are listed on the date by which they are due to be finished.

February 7, 2006

Week 1: Imagining the Writing Center

  • Introduce syllabus, course structure, etc.
  • First perceptions of writing centers
  • Small group reading/discussion of North

Readings due: (This week we will do the reading in class.)

  • North, Stephen, from The Allyn and Bacon Guide to Writing Center Theory and Practice, "Revisiting 'The Idea of a Writing Center,'" p. 79-91.

February 14, 2006
Week 2: Imagining the Writing Center (continued)


  • Panel discussions
  • Discussion of readings
  • Informal debate (prepared in class)
  • Practical component: Tutoring roundtable exercise

Readings due:

  • Barwashi and Pelkowski, from The Writing Center Journal 19.2 (1999), "Postcolonialism and the Idea of a Writing Center," p. 41-58.
  • Grimm, Nancy, from Good Intentions, "Literacy Learning in Postmodern Times," 27-38.
  • Lunsford, Andrea, from The Allyn and Bacon Guide to Writing Center Theory and Practice, "Collaboration, Control, and the Idea of a Writing Center," 109-115.

February 21, 2006
Week 3: Literacy/Constructions of Writing, Identity, and Power


  • Panel presentation
  • Guest "mini-lecture" - Professor Heidi Kim, Sociology
  • Practical component: Tutoring demos

Readings due:

  • Hjortshoj, Keith, from The Transition fo College Writing, p. 80-88, "Some General Expectations."
  • Powell, Melea, from Alt Dis, p. 11-21, "Listening to Ghosts."
  • Royster, Jackie, from Alt Dis, p. 157-173, "Nobody Mean More to Me Than You and the Future life of Willie Jordan."
  • Carl Leggo, "Grammar and my Grandmother."


February 28, 2006
Week 4: Multiple Literacies and Discourses


  • Panel presentation
  • Potential guest "mini-lecture" - Professor Jenny Boylan, Creative Writing
  • Practical component: Tutoring personal writing/Discovering your writing process

Readings due:

  • Courts, Patrick, from Multicultural Literacies, p. 35-62, "Dialects and Discourses: Dig?"
  • Grimm, Nancy, from Good Intentions, p. 38-46, "Complicating Cultural Common Sense with History."
  • Anzuldua, Gloria, from Borderlands/La Frontera, "How to Tame a Wild Tongue."
  • Rodriguez, Richard, "Aria: Memoir of a Bilingual Childhood."
  • Villaneuva, Victor, "Whose Voice is it, Anyway?"

March 7, 2006
Week 5: Collaboration, Ethics, and Plagiarism


  • Panel presentation
  • Guest "mini-lecture" - Marilyn Pukkila, Library
  • Practical component: Roundtable paraphrase, Integrating Quotes, Citations

Readings due:

  • Bain, Justin, "Students and Authors in Writing Centers."
  • Windgate, Molly, from A Tutor's Guide, "What Line? I Didn't See Any Line," p. 9-15.
  • Kail, Harvey, and John Trimbur, from Landmark Essays on Writing Centers, "The Politics of Peer Tutoring," p. 203-209.
  • Buranen, Lise, from Perspectives on Plagiarism, "But I Wasn't Cheating," p. 63-74.
  • Shamoon, Linda and Deborah H. Burns, from Perspectives on Plagiarism,, "Plagiarism, Rhetorical Theory, and the Writing Center," p. 183-192.


March 14, 2006
Week 6: Roles


  • Panel presentation
  • Practical component: Tutoring apathetic students, Tutor-in-a-hat

Readings due:

  • Elbow, Peter, "Embracing Contraries in the Teaching Process," The Writing Teacher's Sourcebook,, p. 65-76.
  • Teaching One-to-One, "Writing as Discovery," p. 6-9.
  • The Practical Tutor, six scenarios, p. 15-23
  • The Bedford Guide, "The Many Hats Tutors Wear," p. 23-25.
  • The Bedford Guide,, "Professionalism," p. 1-3.
  • When Tutor Meets Student, "Avoiding Tutor Dependency," p. 105-109.

March 21, 2006
Week 7: Methodologies of tutoring


  • Panel presentation
  • Practical component: Tutoring Long Papers

Readings due:

  • The Writing Lab Newsletter (24.8), "Training Consultants to Utilize Supportive Behaviors."
  • Delpit, Lisa, from Other People's Children, Ch. 2 "The Silenced Dialogue," p. 21-47.
  • Perry, Theresa, and Lisa Delpit, eds. "Embracing Ebonics and Teaching Standard English: An Interview with Oakland Teacher Carrie Secret," The Real Ebonics Debate, p. 79-88.
  • Elbow, Peter, "Closing My Eyes as I Speak: An Argument for Ignoring Audience," College English(49.1), p. 50-69.
  • Ostrom, Hans, "Grammar J, as in Jazzing Around," Elements of Alternative Style, p. 75-87.
  • Harcourt Brace Guide, "Why Edit Last?" p. 62-63.

DUE in class today: Midterm dialogue journal portfolios

March 25-April 2, 2006: Spring Break (no class on March 28)

April 4, 2006
Week 8: Techniques


  • Panel presentation
  • Practical component: Brainstorm questions/potential participants for faculty interviews; sentence-level tutoring exercises

Readings due:

  • Lamott, Anne, "Shitty First Drafts," Bird by Bird, p. 21-27
  • "Getting Started" and "Down to Business," from Talking About Writing," p. 111-135.
  • Harcourt Brace Guide, "Organizing and Developing a Draft," p. 37-45.
  • Rafoth, Ben, A Tutor's Guide, "Helping Writers to Write Analytically," p. 76-82.
  • Bartosenski, Mary, "Color, Revision, and Painting a Paper," Writing Center Journal (12.2).
  • The Writing Lab (26.2), "Exploring Multiple Intelligences in the WC," p.2-4.
  • Harcourt Brace Guide, "Gender-Neutral Language" p. 66-68.
  • Young, Beth Rapp, A Tutor's Guide, "Can You Proofread This?", p. 111-117.
  • Harcourt Brace Guide, "Correcting Surface Errors," p. 49-59.

Learning styles online quiz (if you are bored).

April 11, 2006
Week 9: English as a Second Language (ESL) Writers


  • Panel presentation
  • Practical component: Full hour tutorial

Readings due:

  • Lu, Min Zhan, "From Silence to Words: Writing as Struggle," Critical Convergences, p. 357-365.
  • Shen, Fan, "The Classroom and the Wider Culture: Identity as a Key to Learning English Composition," College Composition and Communication, 40.4 (Dec. 1989) 459-466.
  • Elbow, Peter, "Vernacular Englishes in the Writing Classroom? Probing the Culture of Literacy," Alt Dis, p. 126-138.
  • Fox, Helen, "Helping World Majority Students Make Sense of University Expectations," Listening to the World, p. 107-126.
  • The Writing Lab Newsletter (24.7), "Creating Common Ground with ESL Writers," p. 1-6.
  • Capossela, Toni, "ESL and 'Nonstandard' Dialects," Harcourt Brace Guide, p. 92-97.


April 18, 2006
Week 10: Writing Across the Disciplines


  • Panel presentation
  • Practical component: Tutoring papers in unfamiliar subjects

Readings due:

  • McLeod, Susan H., "Writing Across the Curriculum: An Introduction," Writing Across the Curriculum, p. 1-6.
  • Harris, Muriel, "The Writing Center and Tutoring in WAC Programs," Writing Across the Curriculum, p. 154-164, 170-173.
  • Talking About Writing, "Research Papers," "Essay Exams," "Book Reviews," and "Lab Reports," p. 78-86.
  • Harcourt Brace Guide, "Writing in the Disciplines," p. 85-88.
  • A Tutor's Guide, "Tutoring in Unfamiliar Subjects," p. 85-89.

April 25, 2006
Week 11: Writing Across the Disciplines (continued)-Faculty Panel


  • Faculty panel presentation on writing across the disciplines
  • Faculty interview debriefings
  • Practical component: Tutor-in-a-hat
  • Readings due:
    No new readings to do. Work on getting faculty interviews done before class.

    DUE in class today: Completeed faculty interviews

    May 2, 2006
    Week 12: Writing Across the Disciplines (continued) and drawing connections


    • Organization of responses and division into small groups
    • Work on final projects
    • Tutor-in-a-hat

    May 9, 2006
    Week 13: Turning Theory into Practice


    • Course evaluations
    • Pick shifts for Write-Around-the-Clock
    • Presentation of final projects

    DUE in class today: Final projects and end of semester dialogue journal portfolios

    Wednesday, May 10, through Friday, May 12, 2006: WRITE AROUND THE CLOCK. Details to follow.


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