Thursday, October 22, 2009

Using WIMBA for an online writing workshop

If your online class requires writing and you want to help your students be better writers, you don't have to tackle the issue alone. Last Sunday in slightly more than an hour in the WIMBA classroom of my current class, Michelle Navarre Cleary held an informative, interactive mini workshop on writing strong essays.

The workshop was optional for students and for those who could not attend, it was archived so that they could review it at a convenient time. Michelle crafted the content to address particular issues from the first and second essays in the class and then used actual student papers (the students volunteered to have them used anonymously) to show examples of things done well, almost well and needing attention. She provided links to helpful resources as well.

In the session itself she took questions on the fly and really personalized the information provided to meet the needs of the students. And this was done while there were still several essays to submit so that the students would have the opportunity to improve their class work right away. In fact, I've just received the next group of papers so I can't wait to see how her ideas have been incorporated.

I'm glad I invited Michelle to do this workshop and plan to make it a part of every class from now on.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Helping your students understand what you mean by an essay

"Write an essay on . . . ." While this may seem like a simple request, many of our students have no idea what we mean by an essay. You can help them out by pointing them to this "Quick Guide to the 'Traditional Academic' Essay" from Elizabeth Coughlin, Assistant Director for the DePaul University Writing Center: 

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Morning and Afternoon Saturday Writing Groups now at Naperville

The Writing Center is leading morning (10:30 to noon) and afternoon (12:30 to 2:00) Writing Groups on Saturdays at the Naperville Campus. To learn more about these Writing Groups, see 

Saturday, October 10, 2009

A cool tool for getting words on the page

Many students tell me the hardest part of writing a paper is getting started.  "Writer or Die" ( is a tool for freewriting that helps writers get past the blank page and start generating material that they can later rework and revise. You might even require students to do a "Writer or Die" session after you first assign a paper. You don't need to have them give you this very rough draft, but you could ask that they e-mail you a copy of the "Bragging Widget," which tells how much they wrote in what period of time.