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Newsletter of the University of Denver Writing Program

October 2020 newsletter


"Read a PDF copy of the Newsletter"

The University Writing Program, Doug Hesse, Executive Director | |
The Writing Center, Juli Parrish, Director |

In this issue

  • Three Faculty Workshops: Online Peer Review, Responding, Discussion Boards
  • Student Voice: Julia Cordova, "Down in the Valley"
  • The Writing Expert Consulting Corps

Three Quick, Practical Workshops for Faculty


As professors across campus honed teaching skills in online and hybrid environments this fall, three topics came up frequently: How to Conduct Peer Review Effectively; How to Use Discussion Board Well, and How to Respond to Writing Using (or Ignoring) Features in Canvas. The Writing Program has developed three quick, practical, interactive workshops, all via Zoom. Each begins with a presentation of 15-20 minutes, followed by 30 minutes of conversation and specific questions from participants. Each session will be limited to 15 participants to foster engagement. Reserve a spot that fits your need and schedule by using this link.





Effective Online Practices for Student Peer Review

oct2020effectiveThursday, 10/22 1 pm
Wednesday, 10/28 2 pm

An effective learning activity is having students read and discuss one another's work in progress. Deriving from the academic mainstay of peer review for scholarly submissions, classroom peer review sometimes involves judging quality. However, more often--and generally more effectively--peer review means providing feedback: What's working well? What's confusing or undeveloped? What revisions are available? The online environment can make things more complicated--but also open some options. This 50-minute workshop will provide useful ideas and strategies for incorporating peer review activities in online settings across the curriculum. Led by John Tiedemann and Blake Sanz. Sign up.


Responding to Writing and Grading Through Canvas (Using or Ignoring Canvas Tools)


Friday, 10/23 2 pm
Tuesday, 10/27 1 pm

Once upon a time, responding to and grading student writing was pretty straightforward: collect physical papers, jot marginal comments, provide a final comment, and insert a grade. Sure, there were issues of What To Say and How To Say It, as well as endless issues of faculty time. But the actual medium of responding was clear. Most of us haven't handled physical papers in years, but with everything online--and usually in Canvas--there are lots of questions. Do I use speed grader? How? Do I annotate papers? Do I download and use track changes, then re-upload? Do I use rubrics? How do I know students are reading my feedback? And, universally still, how am I commenting effectively and efficiently online? This 50-minute workshop will explain the strengths and weaknesses of various approaches to responding to writing in online courses. Led by Geoff Stacks and Matt Hill. Sign up.



Using Discussion Boards Effectively

Friday, 10/30 11 am
Thursday, 11/5 4 pm

Courses that take place significantly or entirely online have altered channels of exchange between students. One obvious solution has been discussion boards within Canvas. Many faculty have enjoyed considerable success with that feature. Yet many others wish the feature were more productive. Some students perceive discussion boards as "busy work." Many produce substandard contributions. Sometimes interactions among students are problematic or lacking. Atop everything is frequently the question from professors: "OK, what do I DO with the writing in these boards?" This 50-minute workshop will provide useful ideas and strategies for using discussion boards well. Led by LP Picard and David Riche. Sign up.  



Student Voice

Julia Cordova
"Down in the Valley"

"Atop the mantle of our fireplace sits a photograph in a worn wooden frame that my father, Ray, claims to have made himself during his childhood with only a pocket-knife and some glue. To this day I still haven't learned whether this is the truth. If it is, his craftmanship was impeccable as a child. Within this "handmade" frame lies a photograph that I took three years ago in Questa, New Mexico. Within it lies the vast Sangre De Cristo Mountains overlooking the valley of Questa, as well an old dirt road flanked by unruly yellow sunflowers."

--That's the opening of DU undergrad and Writing Center Consultant Julia Cordova's poignant memoir of a daughter and father visiting an aged grandmother in a small village near Taos. Read the entire piece, from the collection At Home in the Corona, edited by Doug Hesse.


The Writing Expert Consulting Corps


The Writing Expert
Consulting Corps
The Writing Program has established a group of thirteen professors who this fall are available as workshop leaders and consultants. As of mid-October, WECC has led 52 workshops in classes across campus and 23 professional development seminars for faculty. Serving as writing expert consultants are Professors Juli Parrish, Megan Kelly, Geoff Stacks, Blake Sanz, Keith Rhodes, Heather Martin, Aubrey Schiavone, Matt Hill, David Riche, John Tiedemann, LP Picard, and Doug Hesse. If you'd like a writing expert to lead a workshop in your class, please contact Dr. Juli Parrish at If you'd like a writing expert to discuss any aspect of assignment design, responding to student writing, writing development, or so on, please contact

Photos in this issue were all taken by Doug Hesse--expect for Julia Cordova's sunflowers.

Spring 2020

Our May newsletter features:

  • A Report on Spring Writing Courses
  • How the Writing Center Can Help Students--and You
  • Four Students Write about Life in a Pandemic
  • Conversations in the Disciplines: Writing Ethnography

"Read the full Newsletter"

#17 Autumn 2018

In this issue we talk about a national writing conference that the program hosted in July that drew professors from 36 states. We introduce a new book in which 13 DU professors discuss how they distinguish strong student writing from average. We explain opportunities for students and faculty through the Writing Center. And we provide a resource to help students evaluate sources. 

Read the full issue.  

# 16 autumn 2017

In this Autumn 2017 issue, read about our summer symposium with guest speakers from the field of Rhetoric and Composition, the first cohort of DU undergraduate Writing Minors, our Encountering Stories event celebrating the One Book One DU project, Writing Program faculty accomplishments, fourth-year faculty Professor Polly Reid, and our two new Writing Program Professors Zoe Tobier and Aubrey Schiavone.

Read the full issue. 

#15 Winter 2017

This issue includes new published research in Writing in ASEM; information about an upcoming talk on the "Rhetoric of Demagoguery" by Patricia Roberts-Miller; highlights of an essay by Doug Hesse published in The Chronicle of Higher Education: "We Know What Works in Teaching Composition"; details of the 2017 Writing Lunch series; and bios of three new Writing Program faculty members. 

Read the full issue. 

#14 Winter 2014

Newsletter Articles include the following: 

#13 Spring 2013

Newsletter Articles include the following:

#12 Fall 2012

view pdf of newsletter here

Newsletter Articles include the following:

#11 Feb. 2012

view pdf of the newsletter here

Newsletter Articles include the following:

Can Computers Grade Writing? Should They?
"Use MLA. Write from Your Heart:" The 2012 Survey of First-Year Writers
Beyond Google Scholar: Goals of WRIT 1133
Writing Center at Large: A Conversation with Eliana Schonberg

Past Newsletter Archives

The Point, vol. 10, published Summer 2009

The Point, vol. 9, published Spring 2009

The Point, vol. 8, published Winter 2009

The Point, vol. 7, published Fall 2008

The Point, vol. 6, published Spring 2008

The Point, vol. 5, published Winter 2008

The Point, vol. 4, published Fall 2007

The Point, vol. 3, published Summer 2007

The Point, vol. 2, published Spring 2007

The Point, vol. 1, published Winter 2007

The Point (in Print), Published February 2007