University of Minnesota
student writing support
center for writing

Student Writing Support.Center for Writing's home page.

2019 Minnesota Secondary Writing Centers Summit

The Minnesota E-12 Writing Center Collective hosted our second Minnesota Secondary Writing Centers Summit held on Friday, April 5, 2019, at Shattuck St. Mary's School in Faribault, MN. Student writing coaches from high schools across the Twin Cities Metro and beyond presented to their peers.

Printable booklet of 2019 conference program

Map of conference site


8:30–9:00 Arrival | The Inn

9:00–9:10 Welcome Activity | The Inn Ballroom

9:10–9:45 Poster Presentations | The Inn Ballroom

Camaraderie Among Writing Coaches
Ethan Mirman, Christian Hilgemann, Becca Schumacher (Minnetonka)
Creating camaraderie among writing coaches is vital to the effectiveness of a writing center. Stop by to learn about the importance of a positive work environment within the writing center, as well as methods for building this environment, such as bonding activities, activities outside the writing center, and shared experiences.

Expressing Personal Voice in Academic Writing
Urmee Das, Anna Geldert, Tessa Lundheim (Minnetonka)
Students often view personal voice and academic writing as two opposing ideas. We conducted a study to find out what writers at our school think. Using this data, we suggest strategies writing coaches can use in order to teach students about the appropriateness and power of personal voice in writing.

Impact of Nuances in Communication on Power Dynamics During a Writing Conference
Jeana Schafer (Minnetonka)
Though writing coaches are peers to the students they tutor, students sometimes perceive coaches as having more power, creating a less comfortable atmosphere. This poster shares my findings from a study that asked, “What techniques can a tutor use to create an atmosphere of equality with a student during their conference?”

It’s Raining Women!
Seyoung Lee and Bella Hueffmeier (Minnetonka)
After noticing a sharp gender imbalance of more women than men in our writing center, we wondered what caused this phenomenon, and how it influences the dynamic of our writing center. We surveyed students and synthesized academic studies to uncover some of these answers.

Languages in the Writing Center: Assisting ESL and Immersion Students
Steven Wang and Emil Liden (Minnetonka)
We pose the question “how can coaches improve a writing center’s ability to help ESL and immersion students through implementing diverse cross-language and cultural consultations?” This poster session will focus on ways writing center coaches can best support students who are writing in a different language or facing cultural barriers.

Marketing the Writing Center
Hailey Ens and Ally Chan (Minnetonka)
Our goal is to find ways to better market our writing center and make it more of a part of the student culture. We plan on surveying students to find which type of students we need to focus on with our marketing campaign and to hear student advice and ideas.

Misconceptions Regarding the Writing Center
Aspen Schrupp (Minnetonka)
Have you ever wondered why more students don’t use the writing center? Come to this presentation and learn about common misconceptions and other factors that inhibit students from scheduling conferences and which solutions can be implemented to address this issue.

Understanding the Causes of Writing Anxiety
Ellie Retzlaff and Erin Brose (Minnetonka)
What are the causes of writing anxiety, and what can we as a writing center do to help students who have such anxiety? We will share our original research about writing anxiety and consider ways writing centers could reduce anxiety and bring more students into the writing center.

10:00–11:00 Breakout Session A

A.1 Cognitive Questioning and Brainstorming | Dobbin 5

Cognitive Questioning
Ellie McRae, Maya Schrof, Faith Quist, Urmee Das (Minnetonka)
Participants will learn about and practice cognitive questioning strategies. We will consider how open-ended questioning can lead to metacognition—the process of reflecting on one’s own learning. This process is essential for the development of a writer as a whole in discovering that writing is a process, not a product. 

There's a (Brain)Storm Brewing: Collaborative Prewriting
Kathy Blissenbach, Katelyn Kokkeler, Fatima Osman, Deanna Small (Hastings) 
How can writing coaches help overwhelmed writers brainstorm? Panelists will explore how to give writers tools to generate their own ideas, and how to create spaces for writers to develop their thoughts. Topics will range from how to use guiding questions, get writers to freewrite, and utilize physical space creatively.

A.2 Events and Toolkits | Dobbin 7

Sponsoring Writing Center Events
Jeana Schafer, Emil Liden, Seyoung Lee (Minnetonka)
Minnetonka Writing Center frequently hosts events to draw students into the writing center to know us and be more likely to choose to visit the writing center on their own. Come learn more about activities like writing parties, Poem in Your Pocket Day, and letter-writing campaigns.

Build Your Toolkit 
Coaches and staff from Minnetonka High School
Put your coaching skills to the test in this session, where you will practice conferencing on an essay assignment and share the tools you use to facilitate a writing conference.

A.3 Highlighters and Reluctant Writers | student lounge

Using Highlighters to Identify Types of Writing
Savannah Christiansen, Hana Handzjia, Christine Maina,
Yodi Philipos, Kerrie Schaefers, Emma Wavrunek (Burnsville)
If you miss the elementary school days of coloring during school, come join us to learn a new coaching technique using highlighters. We will teach you how to color-code a body paragraph to visually show student writers how to balance argument and evidence.

Engaging Reluctant Writers
Alex Doughty, Anna Lindner, Lauren Mcquade (Hastings)
Using Muriel Harris' “Talk to Me: Engaging Reluctant Writers” as a foundation, this panel will explore why a writer might be hesitant to participate in a writing conference as well as what can be done as a writing coach to help the writer feel more at ease.

11:00–11:45 Lunch | Dining Hall

11:45–12:15 Writing Activity

12:30–1:30 Breakout Session B

B.1 Language, Power, and Emotions in Student Writing | Dobbin 5

Language and Power
Urmee Das, Anna Geldert, Daniluz Schueller, Alexis Zucker (Minnetonka)
Language is power; the words we use have an impact on others. Come join an open discussion about how to broaden our understanding of language and use it to create a positive and inclusive environment within the writing center and our lives!

Student Emotions While Writing
Ushmil Azad, Siri Erickson-Green, Meagan Haase, Najib Hassan, 
Ella Menke, Maddie Moher (Burnsville) 

Writing is hard, not just because of what we must do, but because of how we feel about the process! Join us for a panel discussion on how emotions and anxiety affect student writers and how we can help navigate those feelings as peer coaches.

B.2 Food for Thought: Helping Writers Organize Their Work | Dobbin 7

Jenny Clafin, Suzie Mendoza, Olivia Van Vossen (Hastings)
Coaches will discuss some possible strategies to help struggling writers organize the content of their writing for the entire paper as well as specific paragraphs. Coaches will share some models that they have used and found helpful and efficient for both academic and personal writing, with opportunity to discuss subsequent models others have come across.

B.3 Electronic Feedback and Blogging | student lounge

The Effective Use of Electronic Feedback
Rachel Burbach and Sam Theisen (Armstrong)
Our writing center is evolving to reflect technology available to students. In addition to face-to-face conferences, students submit essays online and receive structured feedback. This session explores our online submission process as well as how this procedure effectively manages time, while providing students with individualized evaluation from credible tutors.

Exploring the Blogosphere
Sarah Hamilton, Faith Quist, Rebecca Schumacher, Maya Schrof (Minnetonka)
Bring your writing center into the online world! Come learn about how we use our blog, Write It Out, to build community among coaches, promote the writing center, and promote a love of writing in general.

1:30–2:00 Closing Activity | The Inn


Attending the Summit

Would you like your writing center's coaches to attend the Summit (without presenting)?
We have a limited number of spaces for student coaches to attend the Summit. Registration per student is $15, which includes a buffet lunch. Please contact Kirsten Jamsen at by Thursday, March 7, to reserve spaces for your students.

Are you an administrator or a teacher interested in starting a writing center who would like to come to the Summit? We have a limited number of spaces for non-students to attend the Summit. The registration fee (which includes a buffet lunch) for non-students is $50, which will help subsidize costs of the conference for student participants. Please contact Kirsten Jamsen at if you are interested in attending.


Here's a visual overview of the Summit (developed by Anthony Letourneau) that you can download as a PDF and share with others:


Summit Organizing Committee

Deborah Chapdelaine (Hastings High School)
Marie Hansen (Burnsville High School)
Krista Hitchcock (Minnetonka High School)
Kirsten Jamsen (University of Minnesota-Twin Cities)
Anthony Letourneau (Hastings High School)
Kristen Nichols-Besel (Bethel University)
Shannon Puechner (Minnetonka High School)
Laura Stelter (Shattuck-St. Mary's School)
Jasmine Kar Tang (University of Minnesota-Twin Cities)



Contact Kirsten Jamsen at