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Project OWL: Options in Writing & Learning Disability Services Writing Center Project

Project OWL is jointly developed and sponsored by ODS and the Barnard Writing Center

We are in the process of adding the online forms/publications/info -- so please stop by ODS in 105 Hewitt for hard copies of any items currently not available.

Mini-Course

The Project OWL Mini-Course is now offered to Writing Fellows-In-Training (WFIT) during each fall semester as part of "The Writer's Process" course taught by Writing Center Director Pam Cobrin.

The first five sessions of the course are offered online — and the last session includes a live panel discussion with ODS students presenting their experiences as students with learning disabilities. For more information, contact Project OWL co-coordinator Okie Hrycak at ohrycak@barnard.edu or 212/854-4634.

Syllabus

Session 1

Session 2

  • Understanding LD: How Difficult can this be? F.A.T. City Study Guide
  • Handout: College Students with LDs
  • F.A.T. City Discussion Questions

Session 3

  • Handout: View from F.A.T. City

Session 4

  • Emotional Issues

Session 5

  • Intervention Strategies

Session 6

  • Panel Discussion
  • Assignment

Writing Fellow Tips from ODS Students

Allison's Helpful Hints:

  1. It has been helpful for me to have a Writing Fellow ask me:
    1. What are you really trying to say?
    2. What is your main argument?
  2. If I have a research paper, it is helpful to discuss my ideas and then talk about what support/quotes would best fit my argument.
  3. I like having my grammar corrected. When I use cliches or colloquial phrases, I like being given suggestions of alternatives.
  4. Any suggestions of how to improve a paper are extremely helpful, and are infrequently given by professors.

Some Things to Think About as a Writing Fellow
by Danielle

  1. Every writer is different: I think it is generally helpful to make sure that you approach each paper as if it were similar to others, but at the same time vastly different. This may help with some of my thoughts below.
  2. While meeting a student, remember to give positive feedback before negative. Additionally, if there are serious "issues" with the paper, try and go through the paper step by step, this way you avoid overwhelming the student, and accidentally "turning them off" from their writing.
  3. After looking at a paper, sometimes it is helpful to think about "the big picture." Meaning, look for what the student's major problem is, be it organization, content, quality of analysis, and/or replete grammatical areas. In doing this, rather than spending a meeting going over the "nitty gritty," you can talk to the student about general techniques for organization, analysis, etc.
  4. Give the student options: ask her how SHE wants to look at her paper. Students may appreciate all of your work, but may not want you to go over all of your comments with them. On the other hand, some students want to sit there while you "review" every single line. When one generally approaches a student and asks them how they want you to go over a paper, the general response is, "uhhhh, I don’t know, whatever." If this happens, I recommend asking when the paper is due, and then listing the different options you can think of (i.e. "Well we could really take it apart, or I could talk to you about…" or, "we could just talk about some general thoughts I had about your writing, which may help you with this paper and others that you may write").
  5. Have FUN! I firmly believe that going to a Writing Fellow is not a scary thing, but not everyone does. Remember to laugh, joke, and yes, even smile when meeting with a student.

Kate's Top Seven

  1. Don’t get frustrated when we make the same mistakes over and over. Sometimes, even understanding that a grammatical rule exists is a huge accomplishment.
  2. Listen to what we have to say, then remind us of it later. Many times it’s easier and less intimidating to verbalize exactly what it is we want our papers or even sentences to express. But it’s just as easy to forget what we said. That’s where you come in… take notes! Then, remind us of our points!
  3. Make us write DRAFTS! The more the better!
  4. Be patient and make things fun. We all know how hard writing a paper can be. Imagine that struggle times ten! The more that you make this less about writing a physical paper and more about being creative and intellectual, the better.
  5. Know when it’s time to stop. There comes a time when the mind turns to mush, and nothing productive is happening. That’s when you know it’s time to call it quits for that session.
  6. Be creative! It’s all in our heads, and it’s your job to help us verbalize it. Usually the things that seem the most unconventional, like sitting down and conversing with us in a non-stressful atmosphere, are the most useful. Don’t be afraid to do things that are different to get us talking.
  7. Get physical! Make writing a paper more of a physical experience with the use of color coded everything! It helps us visualize and play with the organization of our papers.