Our Work with Connecticut Middle and High Schools

save the dateConference for Secondary School Writing Centers

The University of Connecticut’s Writing Center will host the Eleventh Annual Conference for Secondary School Writing Centers. This event will occur on Friday, September 21, 2018 from 8:30am to 12:30pm at the Student Union on the UConn Storrs campus.  (Directions and Parking)

The conference is for secondary school teachers and students interested in developing or maintaining peer writing centers in their schools. Schools with successful writing centers deliver presentations and all participate in interactive workshops. The focus is on students presenting to students.

The conference is free but each school is responsible for its own transportation and meals.

Conference registration usually reaches capacity quickly. UConn partner schools get priority, and beyond that enrollment is on a first-come, first-served basis. One teacher from each school should register the entire group of teachers and students who wish to attend.

To create space for a wide range of schools, we limit attendance to no more than 3 teachers and 8 students per school. However, if demand for registration goes above capacity, we reserve the right to limit the number of participants further; likewise, if registrations fall below capacity, we allow schools to bring more tutors.

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Part of the reason that public land grant universities like UConn were founded was to serve their state and regional communities. The University Writing Center carries on that spirit of service through our collaborations with Connecticut middle and high schools.  In partnership with the Connecticut Writing Project http://www.cwp.uconn.edu/and several area schools, we work to launch and sustain writing centers that value writing across the curriculum, focus on each writer’s development, recognize the benefits of peer-to-peer tutoring, and understand writing as a complex, interactive process.

Connecticut Secondary School Writing Center Network

Click on the image below to go to an interactive map of schools that have been involved with UConn as partners and/or conference participants.


Not all of the schools marked by pins currently have active writing centers (some, for example, have only attended our conference) but all have played some part of an emerging regional network.


The blue and purple pins represent UConn partner schools.
The red pins represent schools that have attended our annual conference with teachers and students.
The yellow pins represent schools that have attended our annual conference with teachers only.


Our Annual Conference

On one Friday morning each October UConn gathers secondary school students and teachers to share strategies for starting and sustaining peer writing centers. This started as a small event  in 2007 for our partner schools but has grown to include a wide range of middle and high schools across Connecticut.

  • chris Iverson
    Chris Iverson,High School Outreach Coordinator, welcoming 2017 conference attendees

We open registration in late August or early September (and we fill to capacity very quickly).

Most schools bring 1 or 2 teachers and a cohort of 6-8 students; some schools send only teachers. Some schools have been attending for 10 years running; but each year also brings newcomers. Some schools have well-established centers; others come who are just exploring the prospect of a writing center. Everyone participates actively and shares knowledge at this welcoming and energetic conference.

Here’s what our 2016 Conference attendees are saying.

Read how Woodstock Academy tutors spent the morning at our 2015 conference.

Students in a breakout session during our annual conference discuss tutoring strategies.
Students in a breakout session during our annual conference discuss tutoring strategies.

How to Get Involved

If interested in learning more about peer-run writing centers, we invite you to attend our annual October Secondary School Writing Centers Conference, which is open to all who are involved in our growing network or who want to learn more about it.

Another opportunity to consider when looking to learn more about peer tutoring and our growing network is participating in the Connecticut Writing Project’s Summer Institute: http://cwp.uconn.edu/summer-institute/.

Attending the Summer Institute is not a prerequisite for involvement, but we have found that teachers who attend this paid summer professional development program are usually are in a better position to start and sustain a writing center.

Outreach Partnerships

The University Writing Center works intensively with one or two schools each year. Our directors and outreach coordinator meet with prospective partners to plan and set the groundwork for establishing a peer-run center. During the academic year, graduate and undergraduate tutors from UConn’s Writing Center visit the partner school weekly to mentor high school students in how to conduct peer tutoring. The UConn weekly visits end when students are ready to tutor on their own, but we invite our partner schools to stay involved with us, and each other, through participation in the Secondary School Writing Centers Conference at Storrs each October. This conference offers an opportunity for sharing strategies, struggles, and successes.

If interested in learning more or getting involved, please contact us: writingcenter@uconn.edu.


Listen to how Woodstock Academy started their
Writing Center with help from UConn


Our History

Our first community outreach work was initiated, appropriately enough, by an undergraduate tutor who wanted to bring one-on-one tutoring in academic and creative writing to her own former high school, Hartford Public.   To learn more about that experience, please see this article in Reflections: https://reflectionsjournal.net/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/Re-assessing-Sustainability.pdf

Starting in 2007 we shifted our emphasis from having UConn students deliver tutoring to HPHS to working with schools to assist them in founding their own faculty-led but peer-driven writing centers. At that time the Connecticut Writing Project (CWP) http://www.cwp.uconn.edu/ became a partner in the project.

As part of our partnership program, we are currently working with Mansfield Middle School to open their writing center.

In recent years we have worked with:

Connecticut teachers gather at the Secondary School Writing Centers Conference hosted by UConn each October to talk about planning and implementing peer tutoring.
Connecticut teachers gather at the Secondary School Writing Centers Conference hosted by UConn each October to talk about planning and implementing peer tutoring.

Visiting Our Writing Center

We extend an invitation to any school that wishes to visit our campus Writing Center. See our space, observe a session, and speak with our tutors!

Learning More

If you want to learn more about student-staffed writing centers, here are some places to start:

International Writing Center Association Position Statement on Secondary School Writing Centers: http://writingcenters.org/wp-content/uploads/2008/06/IWCAPositionStatementonSecondarySchoolWritingCenters.pdf
IWCA K-12 Resources Page: http://writingcenters.org/k-12-writing-centers/
Richard Kent’s writing center portal page:http://guest.portaportal.com/wcenters
High School Writing Centers: http://www.wcenters.com
National Writing Project/Writing Center Resources: http://www.nwp.org/cs/public/print/resource/3584
Capital Area Peer Tutoring Association: http://captawritingcenters.org/
National Map of K-12 Writing Centers: https://www.google.com/maps/d/viewer?ll=40.88349085471388%2C-72.784423828125&spn=18.96864%2C51.684774&dg=feature&t=m&msa=0&source=embed&ie=UTF8&mid=1mUGnEmwLpLwG9TC6q6kOOex80qQ&z=7