USF Writing Studio

Archive for January, 2017


iSessions: A Symbiotic Way of Writing

Monday, January 30th, 2017 | Posted in Uncategorized by dmfarrar | No Comments »

Nilofer Blog Pic FA16By Nilofer Bharwani, Writing Studio Consultant

I have been conducting iSessions™ (iPad-enhanced writing consultations developed by USF) for the past three semesters, and I view them as mutually beneficial. I am able to walk away from every session with a new lesson and, to me, that has made all the difference.

How, you ask?

Attitude makes everything!

Be open to learning about a new discipline. I have consulted clients on papers that pertain to everything from microbiology to philosophy. At the end of each session, I have always taken notes about a new philosopher or a theory that I would like to further explore in my free time.

Guide your clients through the underworld of reading.

On some occasions, my clients are quiet because they are shy. Sometimes, they are nervous about digital technologies and the idea of their voices being audio recorded, so I will chime in and help them pronounce the words that are difficult. At first, they seem disappointed in themselves because they are unable to read as fluently as they would like to; however, after a few minutes, they tend to enjoy reading out loud because they are able to practice language for fluency and view it as an awesome learning process. As a consultant, I always learn new vocabulary that pertains to various disciplines and develop my knowledge related to many different concentrations. Thus, we are both able to learn new terms and concepts.

Ask questions

I have realized that my clients come from various disciplines, and they tend to have a certain expertise in their field. I, however, have so much to learn about biology, chemistry, mathematics, psychology, music theory, etc., and, therefore, I tend to ask a lot of questions! My clients love sharing their knowledge and clarifying their statements so that I can gain a better understanding of the subject matter and, in turn, provide feedback that is comprehensive and personalized to meet their needs.

Annotate their work

While conducting iSessions, the Notability application is the perfect instrument for providing feedback. It allows me to highlight, underline, and provide positive recognition with stars. Clients love receiving visual feedback, and it allows me to improve my own digital literacy skills. Time management and active listening are put to the test when I am listening, highlighting, underlining, and providing other annotations in the margins of a client’s paper. However, all the multitasking is worth the struggle when I am able to watch my client’s face light up.

Receive constructive feedback

At the end of every session, I ask the clients if the conversation was helpful. All of my clients say, “yes.” In order to develop their critical thinking skills, I ask them, “What was the most helpful part of this session?” or “What are three things that you were able to learn from this session?” These questions allow the clients to better understand and evaluate the learning process; it also allows me to gauge my level of effectiveness as a consultant and continually improve my pedagogy.

Overall, the use of iPads to, as the Studio refers, “reimagine the way writing happens,” enhances not only writing consultation but writers’ relationship with their own writing. iSessions provide a truly unique experience when approaching writing assignments.


Blogging on Blogging

Friday, January 13th, 2017 | Posted in Uncategorized by dmfarrar | No Comments »

Noah Blog Pic FA16As a part of the Writing Studio, consultants participate in various initiatives which may force them to step outside their comfort zones.  One initiative that can be difficult to approach is the very space we’re on now: the blog.  Consultants often have experience writing in academic settings, where papers tend to be much more expansive.  So how can we find topics that are appropriate given the constraints, and how can we approach the actual writing of it?  Here’s what I’ve found works for me.

  1. Start small.  In 300-500 words, you probably won’t be able to cover every detail of dissertation writing.  But you could describe how to write effective topic sentences (for the writer-facing blog) or how to manage the last five minutes of sessions (for the consultant-facing blog).  During consultations, are there issues you found your writers facing again and again?  Do you find yourself repeating certain advice?  These can be valuable topics for discussion here.
  2. Structure.  As with traditional writing, an introduction can help hook readers while also previewing the content of the work.  After a brief intro, jump right into the body of your work, conveying information as quickly as possible.  Consider breaking up your main ideas into three paragraphs, or perhaps a numbered list!
  3. A balanced tone.  The tone of a blog (especially here) can be both professional and personable.  It’s not a research paper, so you don’t need to impress professors by using obtuse, esoteric language that is superfluous or redundant.  I like to use a conversational tone, but you can dress it up or dress it down a bit—as long as it’s concise.
  4. The ending.  In your ending, you’ll want to leave readers with a clear takeaway.  Perhaps summarize your main points.  As these blogs are meant to be helpful to both writers and consultants, I try to end on an encouraging note.


Now you’re completely ready to blog!  You’re gonna do great.


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