The Writing Wheel

As students spun the Writing Wheel, they wondered if they would win a prize. To their surprise, the number they landed on was attached to a question! These questions had no right or wrong answer though. They were writing-related questions, meant to cause students to think of writing in a different way. Click on the following link to see what we did: Then, post your comments below about what you think of the Writing Wheel and how you might have responded to the questions.

Check us out 24/7 on the Writing Space and in the Perk on Fridays from 1-3 p.m. for writing help and writing-related fun!

Week 7: Critical Thinking

You can choose your own argument from a previous tutorial prompt, create a new argument, or respond to the following example:

You are a part of a fitness center and have to decide what types of machines to purchase. Your boss wants to buy basic low-cost machines. Other fitness centers seem to have different levels of equipment from basic machines to more technologically savvy equipment. There are reviews that list pros and cons for all types of equipment. Think of how you would approach this issue, using the questions below.

1. What are your personal thoughts on this idea?
2. Why is this concept of choosing machinery important to your field? (The “so what?” question)
3. What are the different players in this argument? What does each of those people/organizations believe?
4. Write a script or dialogue with 2-4 of the players in this argument.
5. If you had to write an essay on this argument, what would your thesis sentence be?
6. Write three questions or statements which are for your thesis statement (believing game) and three questions or statements which are against your thesis statement (doubting game).

Click on the following link to watch the video associated with this writing prompt:

Week 6: Rhetoric

Go back to last week’s tutorial response about building The Fitness Place. You thought about a potential problem with this fitness center and the purpose and audience of this writing. Explore what message you are going to state to your clients and how you are going to write it.
1. What is the message you want to write to your clients? Write this message as a thesis statement.
2. Kairos: what is the larger context of this issue (its importance to your field of study)?
3. Logos: What are some ways you can show the logic behind your ideas?
4. Ethos: How can you show your credibility or your authority in this field and with this subject matter?
5. Pathos: What are some ways you can show the emotional side of this subject?
6. Delivery: What are a few ways you can deliver this message? (rhetorical devices)
7. Write a paragraph or two using some of the devices you listed above.

Check out the following YouTube video that goes along with this writing prompt:

Aristotle. (2004, March 15). Rhetoric. (Book I, Chapter 2, L. Honeycutt, Trans.). Retrieved from (Original work published 322 BC)
Lunsford, A. —
Plato. (2005). Phaedrus. (B. Jowett, Trans.). Stilwell, KS: (Original work published 370 BC)

Week 9: APA Formatting

Use the CrossFit example or another subject and use the library catalog and the library database system to find one book source and one article.
1. Skim through the source.
2. Write a paragraph explaining what sort of information the source has and why the source is a good source of information.
3. Write a reference citation for the source.
4. Then, write a reference for the paper you published in the fitness journal. All of the information can be made up except for your name.
5. Write a summary of your published article and reasons why it is a good source of information in your field.

Here’s an example of something I might have written:
Busekrus, E. (2014). Simple, strategic exercises: The arrival of CrossFitting and its uses for the fitness center. Fitness Management, 25(2), 12-25. Retrieved from

Click on the following link to watch the YouTube video associated with this writing prompt:

Week 8: General Overview of APA Formatting

“Do you think CrossFit training has more benefits or risks? Explain why or why not.” Respond to this prompt in a paragraph or two. Make sure you have your full name in your post.

Then, check back on “The Writing Space” in a few days. Choose 1 or 2 of your peers’ responses. Use a direct quote, paraphrase, and/or summary of part of your peers’ responses in your paragraph, and in that same paragraph, respond to what they are saying (whether that means agreeing, disagreeing, or discussing what they wrote). Use APA formatting when citing your peers, and use critical and rhetorical thinking to develop a strong paragraph.

Check out the YouTube video associated with this writing prompt at

American Psychological Association. (2010). Publication manual of the American Psychological
Association (6th ed.). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

Week 5: Purpose and Audience

In the tutorial, we discussed one example of a research topic. Now, I want you to create your own. Let’s envision you contracted plans to build a fitness center: The Fitness Place. You have been constructing the place and advertising it for the past 6 months. It is set to open in 3 months, but you have run into some problems that concern your potential clients. You now have to solve one of these problems by writing to your clients.
1. What is your biggest problem with this fitness center?
2. Now, we are going to consider the purpose of writing to your clients. This idea connects into what changes you want to bring about by writing.
Before reading my writing, my clients will think (this way about my topic) xxxxxxxxxxxxxx.
After reading my writing, my clients will think (this way about my topic) xxxxxxxxxxxxxx.
3. Though I gave you a broad sense of your audience, think more specifically about your audience. Who exactly are your clients? What knowledge do they possess on your topic? How do they feel about your topic?
4. Based on your purpose and your audience, what would your style of writing be? By style, I am referring to the type of writing (letter, report, memo, etc.), your language choices, your depth of explanations, the way you argue, the examples you offer, etc.
5. Free write a paragraph (or more) of what your writing would say. Don’t worry about grammar or formatting. Just write.

To check out the YouTube video associated with this prompt, go to

Cruickshank, A., Collins, D., & Minten, S. (2013). Culture change in a professional sports team:
Shaping environmental contexts and regulating power. International Journal of Sports
Science & Coaching, 8(2), 271-290.
Johns, L. C. (2004). The writing coach. Thomson Learning Inc.: Clifton Park, NY.

The Writing Lab Hotline: Anytime, Anywhere

The Writing Lab Hotline is available 24/7 for your writing needs! In the “Leave a Reply” section below, you can ask a writing question. Write a few sentences or paragraph. Share an idea for a writing assignment. Please share anything that you need help with in the area of writing! We will respond to your post within 48 hours (excluding weekends).

The limit here is a paragraph length work of writing.

If you want to talk for an extended amount of time about your writing assignment, go to, come to the Academic Success Center in FLD 117, or email to set up a 30-minute or 1-hour tutoring appointment with a writing coach.

Material Constructs, Confinements, and Identities of the Writing Lab

Last week, I was chatting with a friend about kairos, focusing on how to encourage kairos to happen in the tutoring session. He told me that I needed to back away from focusing on the tutoring session to answer that question. He went on to explain how the materiality of the Writing Lab (i.e. the images others place upon us) affects and does not affect the happenings of the Writing Lab. The gist of his message was that the institution imposes these certain bounds upon who we are. Perhaps they say we fix grammar. Perhaps they say we are a place for freshmen students or for students who are horrible writers to migrate. It’s not just the institution that labels us though. It’s individual instructors. It’s students. Each of them sees the Writing Lab in a different perspective, and no matter how many times we advertise ourselves that we are a place of meaningful conversation, people still do not understand what we do.

I’m sure I am not the only who has encountered these problems before. In the writing center world, we have people pulling at us from all directions. But when it comes down to it, how does this “materiality” affect the tutoring session, specifically the kairotic moments of the tutoring session? According to my friend, in the end, this materiality matters nil. I instantly wanted to combat with his opinion, but I came to mostly agree with him. Students bring assignment guidelines, instructor expectations, and preconceived notions of writing to the tutoring session, which obviously influences our work. However, we, the tutors, the directors and coordinators of writing centers, represent the writing center during a tutoring session. We have our own ideologies that actively resist not all, but some of these other materialities. Conforming to the materialities of the university and of others would lead to a conformity not representative of authentic writing.

This push seems very anti-university, but I am not advocating a revolution, a complete separation of university and student. I want students to understand academic writing and to understand what their particular instructors want from their writing. I am advocating an understanding of the individual spirit the Writing Lab encourages. The student and I embody our own Writing Lab during each tutoring session. This individuality is the key to critical thinking and student ownership within their writing, and ultimately, to kairos (“the opportune moment”). Within those bounds alone, we work to create an environment where the student has the opportunity to resist and to reflect. Without these options, students will write mindless essays that are of no use to them.

The Writing Lab is a place of choosing. Each student we meet, we make a choice of how to act, what to say, and who to be.

Week 4: Writing in the Disciplines Part 2

Go to Google, the database system, or any other place with research and choose a work of writing from your field. Try to find something other than a typical essay. Look for a unique source. It can be a scientific report examining the importance of doing crunches, a business analysis of gaining additional equipment in a fitness center, a management plan for works in a fitness center, a letter, or any work of writing that is prevalent in your field.

1. When searching for this particular source, what types of writing did you find that were prevalent in your field?
2. Title of writing, author name, publication information, type of writing
3. What is a summary of the writing?
4. What compelled you to read this writing? What was effective with it? What did you think about this piece of writing?
5. What were some stylistic conventions you noticed? This question can include the language of the author, the tone, the point of view (“I” or no “I,” direct with the audience or not), the arguments and logic used, etc.
6. How would you define the author’s writing voice? Upon reading this work and last week’s work, how would you define writing in your field of study?

To check out the YouTube video associated with this prompt, go to

Let’s Imagineer Together

Pure Imagination (song from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory)

Willy Wonka:
Hold your breath
Make a wish
Count to three

Come with me
And you’ll be
In a world of
Pure imagination
Take a look
And you’ll see
Into your imagination

We’ll begin
With a spin
Traveling in
The world of my creation
What we’ll see
Will defy

If you want to view paradise
Simply look around and view it
Anything you want to, do it
Wanta change the world?
There’s nothing
To it

There is no
Life I know
To compare with
Pure imagination
Living there
You’ll be free
If you truly wish to be

If you want to view paradise
Simply look around and view it
Anything you want to, do it
Wanta change the world?
There’s nothing
To it

There is no
Life I know
To compare with
Pure imagination
Living there
You’ll be free
If you truly
Wish to be

This song is very subtle yet direct in its message. It’s a soft-spoken sort of song but has such assertive claims: “Wanta change the world?/There’s nothing/To it.” If only we emphasized that in our classrooms. Willy Wonka created a fantastical place, but students can do. Students can make a difference, even in their composition classrooms. But they have to believe that they can, and teachers can help students believe. Students must be allowed to go into their imagination, to explore all that it has to offer.

A shout out to the IWCA/NCPTW Conference that will take place in Orlando at the end of October/ beginning of November! The main thread running through the theme of the conference is a Disney-esque centered principle called Imagineering, which according to Walt Disney is “the blending of creativity and imagination with technical know-how.” This next year, the MBU Writing Lab is planning to imbue this principle into our mission.

We often teach students (or see others who teach students) to play it safe in their writing. Check off a series of items on a list of requirements, and your writing will be great. Here’s where the “but” comes in. BUT then the writing is boring. If you put no creativity in your writing, who is going to want to read it? Yes, I know, teachers assign grades for the writing; teachers read the writing (though I can name a handful of teachers who probably do not). To bounce back to the blog post I posted a couple of weeks ago, grades should not be the sole reason students are motivated to write.

The Disney Corporation does not produce movies and TV shows and amusement parks and plush toys and my personal favorite, keychains, just so they can get the approval of their fans and receive money for their efforts. Okay, that might be part of the reason. I like receiving an “A” on an assignment as much as any other person, but a couple of things really discourage me about feedback for writing assignments: when instructors mark off or only comment on grammar and when instructors do not write anything at all. Either way, they are basically saying, “I don’t care about what you have to say in this writing assignment.”

If we place an Imagineering spin on writing, then writing is partly “technical know-how” but also “creativity and imagination.” Writing is an expression and a discovery, a world of possibilities awaits beneath its surface. So often we only allow students to remain at the top because it’s easier to keep track of them up there. It’s easier to assess the student’s grammar mistakes than the student’s imaginative qualities or levels of thought. It’s easier to mark that there’s no thesis statement or topic sentence than to question the student and to engage with the student as a reader and as a scholar. It’s easier to treat the student as in-superior than to actually care about what he/she has to say!

Okay, that’s enough. I get a bit impassioned when it comes to this topic.

I want the Writing Lab to live the Imagineering lifestyle. I fully believe that in our tutoring sessions, we are doing so. We encourage students to discover, to think, and to find an identity in their writing. This fall semester, we want to live it campus-wide. The Writing Lab is tucked away in the basement, and even though we are a small university, and we advertise like crazy, not everyone comes to see us. Thus, the Portable Writing Lab was born, or is in the process of being born. We are going to explode the campus with writing. Every Friday, a couple of the writing coaches and myself will be traversing the campus doing outrageously Imagineering type things, whether Flash Mob Literature or an endless story or something to get students thinking about writing. We want to show that the Writing Lab can exist anywhere. That writing can take place anywhere. That writing is not restricted to five paragraphs.

I want students to feel as if they can do anything. I want them to be creative with their writings, to take risks that give their writings some originality. I want students to be free. I stand by this empowerment pedagogy. I’m not saying to do away with the rules of writing but to not be so restrictive that students don’t write anything with purpose and don’t enjoy what they are writing.

The Writing Lab will lead by example. We hope that students will follow suit and Imagineer with us because if they don’t, well, I don’t want to know what the consequences of that are.