National Writing Project

Establishing, Maintaining, and Sustaining the Writing Center—A Chapter From They're All Writers

Date: December 2016

Summary: Professors Jennifer Sanders and Rebecca L. Damron outline steps for establishing a student-led peer tutoring writing center, important questions to make sure your center fits your local context, and tips for sustaining a center through teacher fatigue and district-level change.

 

Excerpt from Chapter:

We feel strongly that all students—all students—can and should be given the opportunity to be writing tutors. The tutor training lessons in Chapter 6 should be taught to the whole class. These lessons are really just good writing instruction infused with writing center pedagogy and tutor training. All students will benefit from this instruction. When it is time to open your writing center, simply ask for volunteer tutors. Allowing students to volunteer for tutoring accomplishes many things simultaneously:

  • The students who are truly interested and excited about being a writing tutor will volunteer
  • Asking for volunteers limits the number of students who will tutor each session without the teacher having to make a judgment call on who will be the "best" tutor. (If you have more volunteers than space in your writing center, you can come up with a system to randomly choose tutors for that day and save the others for the next writing center session. But students change their mind from one session to the next about whether or not they are feeling up for tutoring that day.)
  • It allows all students the opportunity to learn from being a tutor, to step into a student-leadership role, and to be empowered in that role. This is particularly important for your struggling students—those who struggle with behavioral issues, those who struggle with literacy and lack confidence in their own abilities, and those who are timid in class and never speak to the whole group, among others.

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