COVID-19 Updates: Fall Semester

Writing and Rhetoric Program and Writing Center Offerings Handout for FYSE faculty

 For more information, or to discuss a particular student, feel free to contact anyone in the Writing and Rhetoric Program. (Our contact info is on p. 4)

Writing Courses for First-Years

We offer two courses that help students build confidence and skills in academic reading and writing. These courses complement what is offered in your First Year Seminar. Tthese courses do not fulfill the College Writing (CW) requirement, but do receive elective credit.

First Year Seminar faculty play an important role in helping students determine whether one of these courses is right for them. Below are the course descriptions, as well as information about advising students who might benefit from one of these courses.

WRPR 0100, Writing in Academic Contexts I: In this class, students will build upon their identities as writers and thinkers, engaging complex issues within a diverse and supportive classroom community. Class activities and assignments will focus on building rhetorical awareness, analyzing texts and media by prominent writers, and understanding academic culture. We will critically examine various genres and grammatical structures, with attention to cultural context. Students will explore their voices and perspectives in class discussion and throughout all phases of the writing process, including planning, peer review, and revision.

Good college writing comes from frequent exercise, practice, and knowledge of writing skills and techniques. Students taking this course will acquire the skills to become successful college writers, readers and thinkers. Each student will also meet frequently with the instructor. The theme for this particular section is Community. (Meets T/Th 3:00-4:15pm w/

Prof. Genie Giaimo- )

WRPR 0101, Writing in Academic Contexts II: Students in this class will continue building upon their identities as writers and thinkers, while engaging a complex, interdisciplinary theme, within a diverse and supportive classroom community. Class activities and assignments will focus on building rhetorical awareness, analyzing texts from a variety of sources, and conducting library research. Students will explore their voices and perspectives in class discussion and throughout all phases of the writing process, including planning, peer review, and revision. Each student will meet frequently with the instructor and will have opportunities for growth in oral communication as well. The theme for this particular section is

Language and Power. (Meets T/R 9:30-10:45am w/ Prof. Shapiro-

Advising Students about WRPR 100 or 101

We recommend directed self-assessment for WRPR courses, which means that faculty provide information and guidance, but students make the final decision. You can help students make an informed decision about these courses by doing the following:

  1. Take a few minutes to announce our courses to the entire class, and to encourage interested students to visit our table at Academic Forum and/or to contact us for more information (see contact info at end of this handout). You may even wish to share some of the info below with them.
  2. Have students do some analytical writing in the first class . This can help you to get a sense of their writing abilities, in addition to engaging them early on in course themes and concepts. You might ask them to respond to a short text or to discuss their current understanding of a course-related topic/term. You might want to let them know thatyou’re getting a sense of their current writing abilities as well their perspective on the topic. It’s best to give them ample time (at least 15-20 min.) if you’re going to assess their response.
  1. Check emails from colleagues in WRPR/CTLR, as you may receive a message suggesting that one or more of your students would be a good candidate for the course. In making these suggestions, we look at:
    1. Test scores (e.g., SAT Reading and Writing)
    2. High school transcripts (both grades and level of rigor in English/writing courses)
    3. Students’ goals, as articulated in application materials (e.g., intended major)


If you choose to examine student Admissions information yourself, please note that the

CommonApp essay is NOT usually the best indicator of a student’s general academic writing ability, because such essays often undergo much more revision and editing than is typically the case for student writing.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I avoid making students feel targeted if I think they need a WRPR course or tutoring?

Discussing these courses during the first class meeting and in individual advising sessions helps avoid a sense of stigma. Explain that the course is available to students who feel that they have not had adequate writing experience and/or instruction prior to arriving at Middlebury, or who feel less confident as writers, for a variety of reasons. Many students will realize that they don’t need to consider the course. Others will be unsure, which provides an opening for discussion in advising.

What might I say in advising sessions?

It is generally best to start with a question. Ask the student if they think WRPR 100 or 101 might be a good choice for them. If the student says yes, or is not sure, ask further questions about their writing background. If the student says no, you can respect their answer and move on. If you have concerns about the student’s writing as the semester progresses, you can always put them in touch with a professional writing tutor. You can also advise the student to take WRPR 0101 in the spring, or a 200-level CW course as a sophomore with a faculty member in the program.

What if it is hard to determine whether or not a student should take the class?

As noted, the Writing Program always has a table at Academic Forum, and we are happy to talk with students about whether or not they might benefit from our classes, and to describe to them the other options we have available for them as student writers (tutoring, ESL workshops at CTLR, etc.). At Academic Forum we often find that some students are more anxious about their writing than we think they need to be, and others are not concerned enough. Students may need to have several conversations before they decide what is right for them.

What else can I do?

Having copies of our course descriptions (see p. 1) available table while you advise students can be useful. You can also invite students to email the course instructors with questions.




Tutoring with Writing Faculty or other Professionals in Writing

Professional tutors can help students understand and respond appropriately to a wide range of writing assignments. Contact Genie Giaimo (our new Writing Center Director), Diane DeBella, or Catharine Wright if you have a student in need of tutoring in writing beyond what you or the Writing and Academic Mentor can provide (see separate handout for more about peer mentoring). NOTE: Simply sending the student to the CTLR is less effective than directly emailing one of us with a referral, perhaps copying in the student. Writing appointments can take time to schedule and early or mid-semester referrals are much more effective than end-of- semester referrals. Students can schedule the appointment directly at: go/appt, or they can call CTLR (443-3131) for help with our website. Follow-up communication between you and the professional tutor is recommended, so that everyone is informed about student progress.

Drop-in Peer Tutoring

Peer Writing Tutors offer drop-in tutoring, starting the second week of the semester, at the Writing Center in the CTLR (LIB 225) weeknights from 7:30-midnight, as well as in the Commons and Intercultural Center on various evenings. See: for more information.

Writing Pedagogy Lunches

The Writing & Rhetoric Program hosts periodic lunchtime discussions related to the teaching of writing. Dates and times for this Fall’s lunches will be announced via all-faculty emails. First Year Seminar faculty are welcome to attend any of these lunches.

Stay tuned for details!!!

Online Resources

A variety of resources on teaching writing and related pedagogies are available online. Handouts from the annual Teaching and Writing Retreat are at . (Click on “2019 Resources” to see handouts from this year, on topics such as designing an effective syllabus, crafting and scaffolding writing assignments, and teaching for diversity and inclusion. Resources from past retreats are also available on the site.)

The Writing & Rhetoric Program also has some of our favorite handouts for faculty (and some that are adaptable for students) at

Our Contact Information

Genie Giaimo, incoming Director of the Writing Center 443-3182. Contact Genie regarding Peer Writing and Academic Mentors, other peer or professional tutoring, and other matters related to writing instruction or writing resources.

James Chase Sanchez, Assistant Professor of Writing.; 443-5971. Contact James, our rhetorician and critical race specialist, with questions regarding writing instruction, classical and contemporary rhetoric, and critical race studies.

Shawna Shapiro, Director of Writing and Rhetoric Program, Associate Professor of Writing and Linguistics -; 443-5977. Contact Shawna with questions about second-level College Writing courses. Shawna is also our multilingual specialist, and can provide resources and support for working with multilingual/ESL and International students.

Héctor Vila, Associate Professor of; 443-2181

Contact Hector with advising questions pertaining to International Students, Athletes, and first generation students, and with questions about writing instruction and writing resources

Catharine Wright, Assistant Professor of Writing and Gender, Sexuality, and Feminist Studies.; 443-2568. Contact Catharine regarding writing tutoring, inclusive pedagogies, integrating creative and critical writing, and writing instruction.

Jennifer Bates, Director of the Office of Learning Resources-; 443-3238 Contact Jennifer for support on time-management, learning strategies, and other learning issues for students at all levels.

Diane De Bella, Assistant Director, Writing Center, Writing Center Tutor and Foreign Language Tutor Trainer (part time); 443-3479



For more information about the Writing & Rhetoric Program, visit