Planning a High School Writing Center

Kim Samuels, SVSU Writing Center Tutor

 

Things to Keep in Mind

  • What will be the mission of your WC?
  • What level of support is there from administrators and teaching staff?
  • Who will serve as director of the WC? Why?
  • Who will staff the WC? Why?
  • How will the staff be recruited and trained? Why?
  • What funding is available?
  • What kind of equipment will be available? Why?
  • Where will the WC be located? Why?
  • How will data be collected?
  • What hours will the WC be open? Why?
  • How will the WC be advertised?

Writing a Mission Statement

Be sure to choose positive language to spell out exactly what your WC will do. Emphasize the cross-curricular nature of the WC, as well as its friendly, collaborative environment.

Staff and Training

Who will staff your WC? Good communication skills and a positive attitude are essential for WC mentors. National Honor Society members are a possibility, as are students recommended by faculty members.

Training high school students to work effectively with their peers is different than training college WC mentors. How will you instill the importance of treating those who use the WC as equals?

One way to begin training high school students (especially with tight budgets and schedules) is to set up a website with modules and quizzes [see links below] to be completed between in-person meetings. You might also set up a discussion board so that students may post comments, ask questions, and reflect on their work in the WC.

Best Practices

There are plenty of sources out there for creating student-staffed high school writing centers. A good place to start is with Richard Kent’s text, A Guide to Creating Student-Staffed Writing Centers, Grades 6-12. Principles from The Longman Guide to Peer Tutoring can also be adapted for high school students.

For research on starting high school WCs, and advice from teachers who have done so, consider visiting Portaportal.com. In the left-hand navigation column, select “Sign Up.” Follow the on-screen instructions to create an account and search for articles pertaining to high school WCs.

Web Presence

To make your high school WC even more accessible, consider setting up a website. Include your location and hours of operation, as well as quick-reference guides for citations and other common issues faced by budding writers. If your school uses any particular rubrics or templates to guide writers, be sure to include these as well.