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The Weekly Blast: March 4, 2011

Ben Estes brings us an effective technique for checking student progress, both in understanding the material and in reacting to course material. To see how to use The “One Minute Paper” in your class click on

Class Discussions? Peer Review? Join the conversation on the Resource Center Teaching Blog: (If you cannot access the blog, please let Peggy know (

The last day students can drop classes and receive a “W” is Tuesday, March 22. Since this date is after spring break it is important that you provide students feedback on their performance before they leave for break. Mid-Term Grade reports (D/F) are due in the office this Friday, March 11. You can print the form from our website or pick one up at the office.

In an effort to collect more papers from the spring semester, we will be once again setting due dates for each unit. Please submit your Unit 1 papers to the upcoming 2012-2013 Anthology by March 11. If this presents a problem to any of you (such as you do Unit 1 at a different time in the semester), just stop in and talk with me.

Thanks to all.
Pat Zukowski

Do you have students who are particularly strong writers or good peer responders? Students who like to talk about writing and would be good helping others? If so, please recommend that they apply to be a tutor in the Writing Center (information below). We are looking for students from all majors with a diversity of backgrounds and language experience.

The Writing Center is not only a place to grow as a writer, but also a place to learn about writing education. We are a community of over 40 undergraduate and graduate tutors who believe writing matters and who are always pushing ourselves to learn more about writing and writing education. As a center for writing on campus, we seek to advance our understanding of social theories of writing, writing processes, linguistic and cultural differences that inform the practice of writing, and more. If you’d like to join us, we hope that you will apply for a position.

To join us as a writing tutor intern, undergraduates need to apply for and complete a two-semester course sequence on writing pedagogy: ENGLISH 329H, Tutoring Writing: Theory & Practice, in the fall and ENGLISH 298H, Practicum: Tutoring in the Writing Center, in the spring. These courses are a rigorous introduction to social theories of writing and research on writing processes, disciplinary writing norms, and diverse cultural literacies. Mid-way through the fall, tutor interns work two hours per week in the Writing Center, and the spring practicum involves four hours of tutoring per week. Writing tutors are responsible for working with writers in 45-minute tutorial sessions, engaging in ongoing learning about writing and writing education, and assisting with campus outreach. Those who complete both courses with a grade of B or higher are then invited to continue on as paid writing tutors.

Enrollment in these courses is highly competitive. All majors are invited to apply to be tutors. To apply for a seat in English 329H, please send the following application materials to

* a letter of interest that discusses your interest in tutoring and your relevant experience;
* a resume;
* a writing sample showcases your facility with academic essays (at least 5 double-spaced pages); and
* the name and email address of a college instructor familiar with your academic writing and peer review abilities.

Deadline: APRIL 7, 2011. Applications received by April 7 will be given first consideration. Select applicants will be invited to an interview with the Director and Assistant Director of the Writing Center. Final selection of 2011-2012 tutor interns will be determined by the end of the spring semester.

You may have already received the below email from the Dean of Undergraduate Education concerning students who are National Guard members being faced with an April deployment. The Dean is asking that rather then encouraging students to Withdraw from the course or to take an Incomplete, that instructors help the students complete the course before they are deployed. If you have any students in your classes who this affects, please see Peggy Woods in order to work out a plan to enable the students to complete the course.

March 1, 2011
Dear Instructors:

I write to elicit your help for students on our campus who will be called to active military service prior to the end of this semester. There are many National Guard members facing a likely April deployment
as well as other veterans who may be activated.

The policy governing military call-ups at Massachusetts public colleges and universities states, in part, that: "Students shall receive nonpunitive withdrawals in all courses from which they are required to withdraw." Given the investment that these students will have made in their ongoing courses by the time of departure later this spring, I endorse the request made by the Student Government Association that instructors provide, whenever possible, an opportunity for course completion prior to departure. In a late semester call-up scenario such as this it is difficult to imagine a "nonpunitive" W from the perspective of learning and degree completion.

I urge you to respond positively to students who contact you about a plan for early course completion related to military activation, should an activation occur. The Dean of Students Office (DOS) is contacting those students likely to be affected and urging them to speak with their instructors as soon as possible. Students who are called to active duty will be aided by the DOS in all aspects of departure, including an official notification to instructors.

Thank you in advance for your contribution to the best possible
arrangements for these students.
John Cunningham, Dean of Undergraduate Education

JOB ANNOUNCEMENT: Assistant Director of the Writing Center
University of Massachusetts Amherst

The Writing Center, a part of the Writing Program, is a community for student writers and the study of writing. We invite applications for the position of Assistant Director for the 2011-2012 academic year (with possibility for renewal in 2012-2013). This position offers a graduate student the opportunity to tutor student writers, provide support for a staff of ~30 undergraduate and graduate student tutors, and participate in the Center’s ongoing development and contribution to the university. Responsibilities include the following:

◦ Tutor student writers in the Center (5-10 hours per week).

◦ Mentor undergraduate and graduate student tutors. Encourage conversations about tutorial sessions; assess tutors through regular observations; co-coordinate a half-day orientation in September and January; organize professional development workshops, and/or brownbag discussions; circulate research on writing and tutoring writing; and participate in the annual New England Writing Centers Association conference. Note: In the first-year, the new assistant director assists in English 329H and teaches English 298H and tutors fewer hours; in the second year, the veteran assistant director organizes the workshop series and tutors more hours.

◦ Coordinate the Center’s daily activities. Organize the tutors’ schedule and the WCOnline system; review tutors’ performance; manage day-to-day office duties; respond to university-wide inquiries about the Center; and write reports on the Center’s activities.

◦ Support the Center’s Growth. Generate ideas for promoting the Center in the university community; collaborate with the Learning Commons leadership; and assist the Director with university outreach as needed.

Note: The Assistant Director position is a full-time TO position, a 20-hour-per-week responsibility. These 20 hours need to be worked in the Center with at least one evening and some Sunday shifts. Each semester, the Assistant Directors and Director coordinate hours in order to be available for tutors and students during the Center’s open hours.

Qualifications: Experience tutoring in a Writing Center required; experience tutoring in UMass’ Writing Center preferred. Interest in writing center research/scholarship desired.

Applications: To apply, send a letter explaining your relevant experience and qualifications, a resume, and contact information for a reference who can comment on your tutoring, teaching, and/or knowledge about writing. Application materials are due by 5 pm on Friday, 11 March 2011, to the Writing Program, Bartlett Hall 305, Amherst, Massachusetts 01003 (if hard copy) or electronically to If you have questions, please Donna LeCourt, Director, University Writing Center.

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