Sweetland’s new Peer Writing Center celebrated its Grand Opening on Friday, September 12, with yummy snacks, exciting raffle prizes, a collaborative art-and- writing project, and a crowd of faculty, staff, and students who came to check out the newly renovated space on the ground floor of Angell Hall. The renovation was intended to open up the old center, which had been divided into several smaller rooms, and to gain additional footage from adjacent offices that were folded into the new design. The removal of several walls and the exposure of exterior windows has resulted in an airy, light space that allows for an organic flow of activity and the possibility of greater collaboration among consultants as they work with students on their writing. Indeed, the plans for the space – which, in addition to the open floor plan, feature round work tables, ample writing materials, reference books, games, computers, and a large blackboard with neon pens for note-taking and drawing – were developed in line with recent research on writing centers and learning spaces that foster creativity and engaged learning.
In addition to its new space, the Peer Writing Center has expanded its hours: from 12 p.m. until 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and more hours on Friday and Sunday. As interim faculty director Christine Modey notes, “We’re open almost fifty hours a week in Angell Hall, and we’ve been very busy. It’s exciting to be able to provide consultations to more writers who want to talk with us about their writing.”
This is Modey’s first semester directing the peer writing consultant program. She’s taken over for Lila Naydan, who left Michigan this summer for Penn State, Abington. Modey brings plenty of experience with peer tutoring pedagogy to the role, having taught several iterations of the peer writing consultant training course (Writing 300) and serving on the peer writing consultant program committee for three years. In addition, she has conducted empirical research on writing tutorials, studying the questions writing consultants ask and how writers’ revisions of their papers are affected by such questions. Modey works in the Peer Writing Center on Tuesday afternoons. “I love being there,” she said. “Our consultants have such good energy, and it’s a beautiful space, a really great atmosphere for working on writing. I like the buzz in the room and the collegiality.”
In late October, Modey accompanied seven Sweetland consultants to the National Conference on Peer Tutoring in Writing in Orlando, where they presented panels on “Performing the Self,” “Style Shifting,” and “The Writing Center as Subculture.” Other activities include ongoing collaboration with Skyline High School, which launched on October 24 when Sweetland consultants and Skyline tutors got together in the Peer Writing Center for a morning of workshops and conversation about tutoring best practices. Visit Sweetland’s new Peer Writing Center in G219 Angell Hall.