Writing Center

The Writing Center is located in the Student Commons and is available Monday-Friday from 7 a.m.-3:30 p.m. We are staffed by two English teachers and 30 trained student writing coaches. We are available to all MHS students.

We will work 1:1 with you on any writing project, at any stage of development, by asking questions, suggesting strategies and helping you clarify your ideas. We work with students on any assignment from any class, as well as college essays and scholarship applications.

You can walk-in during zero hour, after school, or over your lunch break or you can sign up for an appointment in advance at our front desk.

The Writing Center is a great environment for study or group work. Hang out, schedule a conference, or use the computers and ask questions as you write. If you're trying to clarify a thesis, integrate or analyze quotations, make inferences, organize or revise, we're here for you.

The Writing Center is endowed by the Minnetonka Public Schools Foundation.

Frequently asked questions about writing conferences

Who will meet with me?

The Writing Center (WC) staff and student coaches are well‐trained to listen, guide, and ask questions that will help you improve your paper. You will either be paired with a coach who is at least one grade level above you, or you can request to meet with a staff member. All seniors meet with WC staff.

When can I drop in?

During zero hour, lunch, or after school. You may not miss a class to come to the Writing Center unless you have a pass from your teacher.

What happens during a writing conference?

You come to the conference with a clear idea of what you want to work on, and your assigned coach or staff member will ask questions and give suggestions. If you are just getting started, the meeting will be spent brainstorming ideas or discussing organization. If you have a draft, you'll go over your assignment and rubric together, then talk about ways you can improve your paper. If you are ready to turn in a paper, your coach will help you proofread it. Throughout each session, take notes so you can make further revisions on your own later.

How far in advance should I schedule a meeting with a WC coach?

A few days before your paper is due, if possible. Some students schedule future appointments the day a paper is assigned; this helps ensure that you will write a rough draft and have time to make changes before the due date. While coaches can work with you the day your paper is due, you probably won’t have much time to make revisions so plan ahead!

What if I can’t think of a way to start writing? Do I need to bring a draft to an appointment?

Bring the assignment or prompt, as well as any related books or materials, and your coach will help you develop your ideas or talk through the prompt.

Will my coach proofread or edit my paper?

Your coach won’t proofread for you, but will help you do it yourself by demonstrating a way to fix it. If you have specific questions about citations, usage, punctuation, etc. your coach will answer them and model how to address the issue throughout your paper. Your coach may also provide you with helpful handouts or online resources.

Staff

The Writing Center staff and associated students view themselves as writing coaches. They provide individualized guidance and strategies for writers as they work on academic papers, college essays, or personal writing.

Krista Hitchcock

Krista Hitchcock has worked with young writers in a number of capacities. She began her career teaching English in Edina schools, where she was also a fellow in the Minnesota Writing Project. Since then, she has coached students one on one on the ACT and academic writing and is excited to bring these experiences to the Minnetonka Writing Center. She earned her undergraduate degree from Gustavus Adolphus College and her Masters in English Education from the University of St. Thomas.

Shannon Puechner

Shannon Puechner has served as a writing coach for the past several years at the University of Minnesota’s Center for Writing. In that capacity she worked with students with diverse language backgrounds, writing at all levels in many different subject areas. In addition, she co-taught a seminar for new writing coaches. She earned her undergraduate degree and English education license at Eastern Illinois University, her Master’s in Education at Hamline, and is currently finishing up her Ph.D. in literacy education at the University of Minnesota.

Teacher-nominated student writing coaches work in the Writing Center before and after school, conferencing with students and managing the front desk. They also visit classrooms to assist with writing projects, mentor middle school students, help with enrichment events, and play leading roles in our annual spring celebration of writing, "Off the Page." Visit the Writing Center to view profiles of our current student coaches!

Writing tips and resources

The Purdue Online Writing Lab

Everything you ever wanted to know about writing concentrated in one spot! Check this out for help with everything from getting started to polishing your final paper. It also has detailed, discipline-specific writing tips.

http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/

The University of North Carolina Writing Center

Many links that will help you write essays for just about any subject.

The University of Richmond’s Writers’ Web

Links and tips to help you with every stage of your paper.

http://writing2.richmond.edu/writing/wweb.html

Macalester College’s Write Well initiative

A collection of 60 second videos delivered by members of the Macalester faculty. Filmed “on location,” these funny and effective micro-lectures address such issues as “What is a Thesis?” and “Killing the verb To Be.”

http://www.macalester.edu/academics/writewell/

Finding Sources and Avoiding Plagiarism

Diana Hacker’s MLA Reference for documenting/citations.

http://www.dianahacker.com/resdoc/p04_c08_s1.html

The Purdue OWL’s MLA Reference for citing your sources:

http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/557/01/

The Good, the Bad, and The Ugly: Evaluating Web Sources

http://lib.nmsu.edu/instruction/evalcrit.html

Miscellaneous

Vocab Fun at Free Rice: Click on the correct definition, get it right, and feed the hungry.

http://www.freerice.com

One Look: The Mother of All Dictionaries!

Links to definitions from several reliable dictionaries. Can’t find the right word? Click on “Reverse Dictionary” at the top of the page and it’ll help you find the word you’re looking for.

http://www.onelook.com

For Parents

Use these writing tips from the National Council of Teachers of English to encourage your students to write more and write better.

Writing centers around the world

  • Fighting Words | Dublin, Ireland
  • Writer Roddy Doyle started this urban center for creative writing.
  • 826 Writing Centers | Seven locations in the U.S. (Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Michigan (Detroit/Ann Arbor), New York City, San Francisco, Washington, D.C.
  • Author and screenwriter, Dave Eggers, is the brilliant mind behind these public writing centers. All feature free tutoring, innovative workshops and events, and student-created books. All the volunteers are professional authors.

Off the Page

Off the Page is an annual event hosted by the Writing Center that features good food, conversation, live music and interviews with distinguished writing professionals about their trade. Look for details this spring!