The North Shore High School Writing Center’s second year is proudly underway. Staffed by 19 twelfth grade Writing Fellows and two English teachers, the Writing Center is a comfortable space where students are invited to collaborate in one-on-one discussions about their own writing process. Ms. Ritter, Teacher Leader of the High School English Department states, “By harnessing the Fellows’ skills to cultivate the talents of their peers, the Writing Center embodies our vision of school as a community of learners; our tutoring sessions celebrate the strengths of our tutees and inspire their confidence about their own writing progress.”
This year, the Writing Center has already conducted over 300 individual conferences. Students visit to discuss writing in a variety of topics including Holocaust poetry, the earth science Meteorology Project, DBQ’s, internship resumes, IB Internal Assessments, research papers, college essays, and the English 9H and 10H Honors Projects.
Freshmen Zaid Cheema and Lauren Yacovone are Writing Center regulars. They frequently confer with tutors “to get an extra set of eyes” on their work. Because the Writing Fellows have recently completed similar assignments, they explain, the upper classmen are uniquely positioned to converse about specific methods and strategies.
In addition to individual tutoring, the Writing Center deploys its staff for “house calls”, visiting classes to support writing in all the disciplines. One noteworthy example is the impressive collaboration between the Writing Center teachers (Dr. Kirmser and Ms. Devlin) and the Integrated Science teachers (Ms. Hogan and Ms. Pastuch). They designed a creative writing project to reinforce important course concepts. According to Ms. Hogan, the Crime Stories make the content “concrete” in a “fun and exciting way”. This powerful experience solidifies the students’ understanding that “solving [crimes] with forensic science leads back to evidence.” And composing their gripping, and often gruesome, stories is something that, Ms. Hogan says, her students enjoy.
The Writing Center also has numerous classroom visits into Ms. Mordechai’s Science Research class. Freshman Nora Lewis describes her interactions with one of our Fellows: “I was writing about oxygen and the rate of photosynthesis at different salinity levels, and I needed to find a problem that related to that…. [The Writing Fellow] helped me dig deeper, formulate my research question, and plan out my paper.” Nora values the strategy of working with a Fellow on an assignment. “It’s not… formal, you’re close in age, and they can give you a different perspective.”
Throughout the year, the Writing Center sponsors special events. Ms. Claire Fitzgibbons, Hofstra’s Director of Undergraduate Admissions conducts College Essay Workshops each year, and the Writing Center presents week-long SAT/ACT Grammar sessions to help students prepare for their college entrance exams. Furthermore, all of the Fellows are trained in NoodleTools, an on-line research platform, and offer personalized tutorials as needed.
Ms. Ritter asserts that the writing process is an invaluable tool for learning in any discipline. “It facilitates that vital interaction with information that allows students to access, assess, and express ideas. Our Writing Center empowers students to use writing to that end. It helps to give students’ ideas a voice.”
North Shore High School students are invited to visit the Writing Center in the library during period 0, 4, 5, 6, and 7 for help with all stages of the writing process. Walk-ins are welcome and students may make appointments online at https://nshswc.acuityscheduling.com/.
Article by Teacher Leader of the High School English Department, Ms. Ritter, and photos by Shelly Newman