Student Writers Help Student Writers
This year, the English department at BHS is offering a new elective: “Writing Fellows.” The purpose of this course is to train students as peer writing tutors. According to their mission statement, the Writing Fellows aim to “encourage student empowerment through words, and help students discover and expand their enthusiasm for the craft of writing.” As student writers themselves, the Writing Fellows know that writing is not always easy, and they hope that by using a “student-centered and process-oriented approach,” they can help students “develop their voice and skills while making connections among their peers.”
High School students can now book tutoring sessions during their study halls as well as before and after school. The Writing Fellows welcome students with assignments from any subject area as well as at any stage of the writing process— from idea generation to final editing.
Additionally, the Writing Fellows offer a “rent-a-tutor” program in which teachers can book writing tutoring sessions for an entire class. Based on the teacher’s preferences, one or more Writing Fellows can visit a class to assist students with whatever writing-related project or skill they are working on. So far this semester, Writing Fellows have worked with several classes in this capacity, helping students hone skills such as topic-sentence writing, quote integration, outlining, and effective summarizing. Amanda Lee, a high school English teacher who used the “rent-a-tutor” program for one of her ninth-grade English classes, said that at first she “wasn’t sure how [her] students would respond” to the tutors, but noted that her students became “totally engaged” when working with the tutors and became “more invested in their papers as a result of working with them.”
The first generation of Writing Fellows — a team of ten juniors and seniors— have been working this semester not only to develop effective tutoring strategies, but also to design and launch a student-run writing center. The new BHS Student Writing Center is located in the former work room in the high school’s upper library. On Wednesday, November 28, the Writing Center officially opened and hosted a launch event that included fun writing activities, a tour of the center, and introductions to the tutors.
By empowering student writers and creating a welcoming and collaborative space, the Writing Fellows hope to “help build and strengthen a writing community within Burlington High School.” They are certainly off to a great start.