Joint Blender/Chalktalk Issue
Issue #6, November 2007

Feature Article

 

This is a special Blender issue on the BIS Writing Center. The Writing Center is now available online through Blackboard.

Enter The Incredible Once-In-A-Lifetime
Writing Center Logo Contest Announcement!

The writing center staff is officially accepting graphic design submissions to accompany our new writing center logo, “Just Write!” The winner will receive an all expense paid trip for two to Aruba. Just kidding. No, really. The winner’s design will appear ubiquitously on such items as Writing Center T-Shirts, notepads and pens. The winner will get a T-shirt, too.

Submit your design via the Logo Dropbox found at the bottom of the Blackboard Writing Center menu bar. Designs must be received by 5:00 PM, Monday, Nov. 26. So, while you’re eating your Thanksgiving dinner, you can talk turkey with Uncle Stanley and Aunt Sylvie about Writing Center logos. All members of the BIS community (including students, staff, faculty spouses, significant others, children, pets, etc.) are encouaged to participate! Let your creativity take flight.

About the Writing Center

At BIS, our courses and our faculty strive to support students in finding a sustaining path in life. Writing is at the heart of this endeavor. To bolster the process, we have established the BIS Writing Center. The Writing Center’s goal is to help each student increase and stretch his or her capability through writing as a form of intellectual exploration. This means guiding students towards clear organization and articulation of their thoughts through writing. It also means revealing to students that writing is a joyous and fulfilling endeavor reflected in our Writing Center motto, “Just write!”

Facilitated by Charlotte Matthews and Glenn Kessler, the Writing Center exists to support and encourage students in their writing -- both inside and outside of their BIS courses.  Writing Center resources are available to all BIS students through live and virtual meetings.

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Charlotte Matthews, a BIS instructor who regularly teaches BIS courses in creative writing and critical thinking, provides BIS students with writing support and direction in the BIS Writing Center.

Glenn Kessler is a BIS instructor who regularly teaches BIS courses in critical thinking, philosophy, systems thinking, and other areas that catch his fancy.

What the Writing Center Can Do for You and Your Students

The Writing Center exists to support students in their written work. This extends well beyond making stylistic comments on course essays.

When we think about writing the vocabulary that first comes to mind is that of diction, syntax, verbs, nouns, prepositions and that familiar cast of characters that hounded us through elementary school. Through understanding and applying this vocabulary we hone our writing skills to the point where the vocabulary recedes from view. We make it our own as we become masters of the craft.

But there’s another less obvious vocabulary that’s just as important to the craft of academic writing. This is the vocabulary of critical thinking which includes conclusions, premises, inferences, support, relevance, strength and fallacies. If our aim is to analyze, evaluate, convince, or simply make an intelligible case, this vocabulary must also be internalized.  Writing is visible thinking. Writing well requires mastery of both sides of the equation.

The Writing Center strives to help students develop this dual mastery by showing the writing process to be both satisfying and, ultimately, joyous.

We are available to meet with students (virtually or face to face) to offer support on specific writing assignments. In addition, we hold weekly on-line webinars in the Writing Center on specific topics to support writing and critical thinking.  Upcoming webinar topics include:

  • Clarity and Clutter - How to Say What You Mean
  • Diction as Fishing - How to Make Words Come Home with You for Dinner
  • Why a Paragraph?

The Writing Center is here to support instructors as well as well as students.  If you feel that a student would benefit from additional writing support, please refer that student to us.

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Writing Center Features

The course menu to the Writing Center is available through Blackboard.

Features available in the Writing Center include:

  • A "drop box" for submitting written work for review
  • "Virtual office hours" supported by Elluminate Live!. This webconferencing environment allows Charlotte or Glenn and the student to meet in real time to discuss the student's writing
  • An online calendar for signing up for "virtual office hours"
  • Webinars conducted in Elluminate Live! on writing topics
  • Links for students to tools and resources for brainstorming, grammar, critical thinking, and breaking writer's block

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How to Access the Writing Center

The Writing Center is available from UVAonline.org. It is listed as an Organization in Blackboard, and it is available to all BIS students and instructors.

You're invited to come take a look at what we're doing and to see what we offer. We look forward to seeing you there!

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For information about other blended learning initiatives at BIS, see the BIS Blended Learning Website at www.bisblended.info or contact gkessler@virginia.edu.

This issue of The Blender is available at theblender.bisprogram.info or in The Blender archives at www.bisblended.info.