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DiverseCity Writing Series

Literacy Action Center


Mentor Training Program

Edited and written by

Deborah Emma Zietz

Table of Contents

Introduction

What is a DWS Writing Group and Who is a DWS Mentor?

DWS Group Protocol

Writers Rights and Responsinilities

Writing Expectations

Guidelines to Responding to Writers

Grammar and Writing

Focusing the Writing Group

Community Writing Center Mission Statement


The SLCC Community Writing Center promotes the improvement of writing
abilities for personal, economic and social goals. To achieve this mission, the CWC
sponsors innovative outreach programs and collaborate with community partners to
identify the best use of its educational resources.
We undertake this with the following assumptions about education, writing and
community:
1. Quality education should provide alternative and on-going learning opportunities
to the communities it serves...AND individuals and organizations should be active
participants in the education of their communities.
2. Writing effectively supports the ability of individuals and organizations to
participate in their communities and to reach personal and professional goals...AND
writing with advice and response from others is a way to become an effective
writer.
3. Successful urban communities have thoughtful conversations about social and
economic quality, acceptance of diversity, and peaceful relationsAND thoughtful
writing for others is one important way to promote these conversations.

Writing Group Mentor Policy:


In accordance with our mission statement and the values of Salt Lake Community
College, the CWC, and its volunteers, do not provide assistance on writing projects
that appear to incite abusive and/or violent responses from their audiences.
The opinions and statements expressed in the writing of CWC patrons are not
representative of the CWC or Salt Lake Community College or any of its
employees. Only designated representatives of the Salt Lake Community College
may speak for the CWC.

Sara Gunderson
Joanna Sewall
Tiffany Rousculp

What is a DWS Writing Group and who is a


DWS (LAC) Mentor?
First the DWS Mentor shall remember and understand the CWC Missions Statement.

The DiverseCity Writing Series bridges the Salt Lake communities diverse
backgrounds through writing, collaboration and dialogue.
DWS Writing Groups:
Are open and accessible to any / every interested writer with a focus on ESL
writers and writers with disabilities
Provides members opportunity to share their work and give others feedback
Meet twice a month, every month
Participate in the sine cera
Focuses and values the process of writing, not only the product of writing
Practicing patience, respect and understanding for every group member

Group mentors are able to:


Facilitate writing group meetings by collaborating and guiding the writers on writing
projects by providing constructive feedback and creating effective, knowledgeable
writing group interactions
Understanding the dynamic of the LAC writing group and being patient,
understandable, flexible, nonjudgmental and creative
Maintain confidentiality of discussions and writings
Feedback is to be constructive, making real comments even if negative, should be
able to understand and learn from
Give the writer the choice what type of feedback they want to receive for their piece
Provide a connection of trust and contact person between writer and mentor
Provide a connection with the DWS Coordinator and the DWS participants
Communicate regularly with the DWS Coordinator via e-mail and phone
Manage writers sine cera submissions and any submissions and assist in the
publication process
Take part and attend public readings, organize and coach participants as they share
their writing

Find a replacement if you are unable to attend a meeting, please inform the
CWC if you are unable to find a replacement
Report all DWS group meetings

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When taking the role of a DWS Mentor or being in any kind of a volunteer for the CWC
you are representing the CWC to members of the community who participate in your
group. Because of this, you must be familiar with our philosophy and pedagogy, as well as
be able to enact within your role as a group mentor.
Thank you for helping and supporting the DWS in the mission to create a diverse
community of writer.

DWS Group Protocol


DWS LAC Meetings:
The LAC is separated into two writing groups;
1. Every 1st and 3rd Thursdays from 5:00 7:30 PM
2. Every 1st and 3rd Fridays from 3:00 5:30 PM.
These should always stay the same and attendance to be consistent.
Encourage new writers to join the group and register. They can register online at our
website, www.slcc.edu/cwc, or filling out the green Registration form.
1.
2.
3.
4.

Make sure the writers number is filled out and have the writer fill out both sides.
Have them write their name on the yellow form. (They will keep)
Give the writer a CWC brochure with all our offerings.
Keep the green registration form in the back of the mentor binder and give to CWC
worker next time you visit the CWC.

After every Writing group meeting please record the session online

DWS Readings and Submissions:


The DWS and the LAC create a diverse community of writers. The biannual readings and
annual publication, sine cera, bring the writing groups together to share works and
celebrate the community. Each DWS group is asked to contribute to the readings and
anthology as part of the DWS Writing Series.
DWS writers can submit to the annual DWS anthology sine cera biannually; once in the
fall and once at the beginning of the year. A writers release and consent form is required
with each submission. Readings will be held in the fall and in the spring for the
publication of the new anthology; this follows with a launch party. The DWS coordinator
will inform group members of the deadlines as they approach.

Writers Rights and Responsibilities


In order for the LAC writing group to be successful, each member needs to be aware of the
general right and responsibilities. Below you will find a description of what writing group
members should expect from themselves and from each other. As a group develops and grows,
these expectations may change, but should do so only after discussion amongst the entire group.

Rights
To write about anything that I choose
without fear of judgment being
passed upon my beliefs, opinions, or
imagination.
To expect that I will receive thoughtful
feedback on my writing when I ask
for it
To be able to come to the group
without writing prepared, as long as I
provide useful feedback and response
to the other writers
To be able to share my work even if I
dont feel my English writing and
grammar is perfect.
To be able to plan on consistent group
meetings and times.
To have the opportunity to learn and
reflect on ideas and knowledge
coming from other writers with
different backgrounds and cultures
different from my own.

Responsibilities
To be open to the idea of others and
understand that reading about and
commenting on writing that you may
find offensive or embarrassing is part
of writing in a group.
To welcome any writers with respect
and patience that may have
disabilities.
To welcome any writer with respect
and patience of different backgrounds
or cultures.
To provide thoughtful feedback when I
am asked to do so.
To participate as fully as I possibly can
in the writing group, including
writing when I dont feel like it
sometimes.
To tell my group members what kind
of feedback I want and to direct their
comments to specific areas of my
writing.

Hate Speech Policy: In accordance with the SLCC Community Writing Center Mission Statement
and the values of Salt Lake Community College, the CWC and its volunteers do not provide
assistance on writing projects which appear to promote abusive or violent responses from their
audiences.

Writing Expectations
As you get familiar with the LAC writing group you will come to understand that the
writing groups work is not a reflection of you or your writing ability. The expectations
you have for your writers should be based on their individual levels. These levels will be
very different from each writer in the group.
Some members youll be working with may have little or no writing experiences at all,
writers may be ESL learners or have never written outside of an educational or work
environment. Each members writing levels grammatical, structural and or creativity will
be different from other writers in the group. This should encourage each member to work
and learn together and from each other.
Be patient and dont let the different writing levels frustrate you. Every member will have
different understandings of their writings being finished, polished and in perfect
condition. This is just right, because the ultimate goal of the DWS is not to publish
perfectly polished pieces, but to provide a means for members of the community to
express themselves through written word. This expression will be hampered if too much
emphasis is put on grammar and perfectly structured sentences. Work with the writers on
their own levels.
Be able to respond to the individual situation with grace and flexibility. Be able to
maintain your composure when the conversation is confusing, in process, or even chaotic.
Be able to ask more questions than you answer. This will keep you in the collaborative
and non-directive mode. You must be able to read your audience closely and adapt.

Guidelines to Responding to Writing


1. Separate the writing from the author.

4. Find out what the authors intentions are.

When you respond to a piece of writing, use


statements like What is this sentence trying
to say? instead of What are you trying to
say? This can be difficult, especially if
writing is in first-person (using I as the
narrator), but it is still important. Refer to
the narrator or the I instead of directly
addressing the author. This can take the
sting out of the constructive criticism.

As you provide feedback, it is often useful to know what


the author was trying to do with a piece of writing.
Youll find that even as you are providing feedback,
youll still need to ask questions about the purpose,
context and task that the writer is working on.

2. Learning as much about the writers


writing as you teach about your own.
This helps the writer learn by reinforcing their
own cultural identity as valid and helps the
mentor to understand and learn differences in
writing. Writers and Mentors function as
mutual writing guides.
3. Use descriptions and ask questions.
Asking questions of a piece of writing can be
very beneficial because it will make the author
think more than if a simple statement is used.
For example the statement This paragraph
makes no sense to me.
will be difficult for the author to understand
because it must make sense to her, she wrote it.
A better approach is to describe your
understanding of the writing followed by a
question, such as
The first part of the paragraph is about the sky
but then it drops into what the driver is doing.
Im confused by this.
What is the paragraph trying to do here?
or I understand this reason, but not this one.
How do you see that they work together?

5. Explore cultural differences in meanings


found in the writing.
There will be differences in word, imagery,
colors and cultural meanings in the writing. it is
important to keep an open mind about these
differences since it will interfere with the
mentors and writers intentions of the writings
are. Asking straightforward questions about the
writing and explaining the meaning of them
helps with the process.
6. Read and write and read.
Make a habit of writing while you are reading.
Make notes and questions as you go through the
writing of members. This is where the best
feedback comes from because it is your
immediate response to the writing. When a
thought, question or confusion arises in your
mind, make a note.
Check with the author regarding whether they
want you to make notes directly on their
document, or use a separate sheet of paper.
7. Youre not grading: youre responding.
The best responses are the thoughts, reactions,
feelings, impressions and questions that arise
while you read someones writing. These
responses should be informed by as clear of a
picture of the rhetorical situation as you can
muster, but you should remember that
responses are never right or wrong. The writer
may agree or disagree with you, which is how it
should be, since the writer has final
responsibility and ownership of the writing.
Use your knowledge of the writing context as
you respond, tailoring your feedback as you go.
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Grammar and Writing


The goal of this program is to provide avenues for people to express themselves in writing in the
way they find most appropriate. Its your job to facilitate this process. As a writing group mentor,
you will be working with individuals with varying levels of grammatical abilities. The writing
topics and ideas in the DiverseCity Writing Series are generated by the writers themselves (with
some assistance from you). You will need to have a wider acceptance of creative grammar than
if you were teaching a grammar class. In other words, you do not need to focus on, or take
responsibility for the grammar found in the written works created in your writing group.
What focusing on grammar does to the creative/expressive writing process?
When we, as mentors or as writers, focus too much on grammar, the ideas that we are trying to
express in writing get shortchanged. Imagine that someone is trying to work through a
complicated thought, or emotion in a short story. Its a complex process and he is struggling to
put his ideas into words.
Never worry about grammar in the initial stages of writing. Encourage your writing group
to just write what they think, feel, and if they are worried about grammar, assure them that
you will all focus on it at a later stage.
Why is grammar so emotional?
In our society, good grammar is a sign of education, which in turn, is a sign of socio-economic
class. Also, as most of us went through school, our teachers focused on grammar when they
wrote in red ink all over our work. Weve had it forced into our minds that grammar is really the
most important thing about a piece of writing. However, as with all other considerations about
writing, the level of necessary correctness depends on the purpose the writer has in mind. A
resume needs to be perfect. But, the writing we do in this workshop has a more flexible grammar
requirement.
Remember that grammar is rhetorical. This means that grammar is flexible. This means
that you must be flexible when dealing with grammar.
When do we say something about someones grammar?
As the mentor you should always be listening to what they need and how you can help them. This
applies to grammar as well. If one of your writers never asks you about grammar and you can
understand what they are writing, then you will probably never bring grammar up with that
person. However there are two situations when grammar will become a topic of conversation:
1) If the writer wants you to look at his or her grammar
2) If you and the rest of the group cannot understand the writing.

Focusing the Writing Group


Because The Literacy Action Center Writing Groups are so different from the other
writing groups because of their diverse writers coming from different cultural, writing and
language level, the focus are shifting to a wider angle.
It is important for the Mentors to clearly understand the Four Basic Language Skills:
listening, speaking, reading and writing. In the writing group meetings you will have to
practice each one of these skills. Implement the four language skills in activities whenever
possible.
Ex.: As an Icebreaker at the beginning of the meeting, have a writing prompt that is
written on the board. Have the whole group read it together out loud, write for 5- 10
minutes and have everyone share and listen to the other members.
The Language skills are learned in an order:
1. Listening: When people are learning a language, they first hear it spoken.
2. Speaking: After hearing spoken words, we try to repeat what we hear.
3. Reading: Learning to listen, speak and converse it is to identify symbols that make
the words.
4. Writing: Lastly, we rewrite and understand the symbols on paper.
The Mentor must keep in mind that writing is the last Language skill earned when
learning languages, meaning it is the most difficult one. Some Writers in the LAC group
will be and are still working on other language skills and thus may find difficulties and
may take longer to write.
Adapting this into the writing meetings
1. Understand that the writers first learn to speak by listening. Make sure you guide the
group so that every member who has different language levels has time to listen to
each member of the group.
2. Make up activities where the writers practice writing, reading and listening by using
easy writing prompts.
3. Introduce new objectives with clear and loud voice before the writers read it.
(Reading any writing out loud in the group)
4. Always try to make easy context that will ensure the writers will comprehend and
are easier to follow. Some may be good in copying and repeating what was said or

written but the meaning of it falls away. This wont help with the learning or
writing process.
5. Always reflect back on what was learned before, what comes ahead and link it back
to the writers current language and writing level. This way the writer has a chance
to see their developments and leaves them encouraged to do more.