UConn Workshop Helps Broaden Horizons for E.O. Smith’s Writing Center


Staff Photo

Artistic touches in the Writing Center, located next to the computer lab in the Library Media Center, help create a comfortable space.

Abigail Levine, Staff Writer

E.O. Smith’s Writing Center members recently visited UConn for an opportunity to participate in a workshop. The Writing Center works by helping our fellow students with any type of writing advice that they may need. 

Our writing center members recently took a field trip over to UConn’s Library for an internship opportunity. This included workshops such as solving a puzzle blindfolded with someone else telling where to put the pieces, a presentation on all the strategies of effective tutoring, a tutor-tutee session, and even a sales pitch on why a group would have the best writing center. Through these tasks, the tutors learned the essentials of effective tutoring. 

Ms. Desjarlais, one of the advisors for the Writing Center, explains more on this experience. “As part of their outreach, the UCONN Writing Center extended an invitation to all partner schools to pick a day to visit its writing center and participate in activities to help peer editors improve their skills.  Many writing centers in high schools and universities have struggled to generate ‘business’ due to disruptions brought about by the pandemic.  Many of you (tutors) had indicated that you forgot how an editing session worked and wanted to brush up on your skills.  We jumped at the opportunity to work with the UCONN Writing Center to give you those opportunities.”

 Furthermore, this trip provided not only the chance to work together for a collaborative learning experience, but also the chance to publicize our own writing center. “Considering that the last activity of the day involved brainstorming ways to promote the Writing Center, I believe that this will result in publicizing the writing center,” Ms. Desjarlais said. “Mrs. Rowley and I were very impressed with the creative ideas that you all generated and are working to bring some of them to fruition.” Ideas for publicization included writing contests, making the center more visible in the LMC (posters, signs) and even a raffle. 

Samantha Vanvalkenburg is part of UConn’s Writing Center, and she also conducted this trip and walked us through every activity and presentation. She highlights some of the key moments that happened on this trip: “I really loved seeing how you all collaborated with one another. It’s really important to listen to your fellow tutors because we can learn together if we discuss our experiences together. From the pitch-off, I mean there were so many great ideas. One that stuck out to me as something your center could make good use of was the raffle incentive. Seeing as so many centers have had trouble getting writers, this idea sounded like it filled a strong need.”

She also mentioned some benefits besides writing help that tutees can receive from coming to a writing center. “Honestly, writing centers are great for building community. I meet so many new and different people through our center, and I am so grateful for it. Learning new perspectives and the way others think is extremely valuable for empathy and cognitive development. When you work together on writing both tutor and writer get to try out or see different learning strategies and, as I said before, options allow us to be more prepared and flexible. Teachers will often use peer review in class to encourage people to revise. Writing centers allow students to get that experience outside of class as well.” 

This trip was very beneficial to both our tutoring methods and teamwork. Our writing center works on providing helpful suggestions to those seeking help and to set an example of collaborative tutoring to our peers.