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A Guide to Creating Student-Staffed Writing Centers, Grades 6–12, Revised Edition

Richard Kent

A Guide to Creating Student-Staffed Writing Centers, Grades 612, Revised Edition is a how-to and, ultimately, a why-to book for middle school and high school educators as well as for English/language arts teacher candidates and their methods instructors. This revised and updated International Writing Centers Association 2006 Book of the Year shows writing centers as places where writers work with each other in an effort to develop ideas, discover a thesis, overcome procrastination, create an outline, or revise a draft. Ultimately, writing centers help students become more effective writers. Visit any college or university in the United States and chances are there is a writing center available to students, staff, and community members. Writing centers support students and busy teachers while emphasizing and supporting writing across the curriculum.

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Chapter 2: Planning and Organizing

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PLANNING AND ORGANIZING

One of the first steps in developing a 6th- to 12th-grade writing center will be holding discussions about the concept with your English/language arts (ELA) colleagues. Your colleagues’ support is vital. If some of these teachers are recent college graduates, they may be familiar with university writing centers. Perhaps they were writing center staff or had friends who were. Or, maybe as part of their English studies, they were required to use their university’s writing center. Since university writing centers are often housed in English departments, it’s not unusual for English education majors to be acquainted with them. Your new colleagues may be important resources and advocates as you begin your work to establish a writing center at your school.

I spent a year researching, planning, and promoting the writing center idea. Half way through the year I composed “A Prospectus: The Mountain Valley High School Writing Center” (see Figure 2–1) and shared it with my English colleagues and the high school administration. I thought I had done a good job keeping my English colleagues informed with handouts like the prospectus, but when the principal, the superintendent, and the school board approved the writing center in June, a couple of my colleagues felt blindsided.

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