Sweetland Writing Center to welcome Detroit area high school educators on April 24

April 27, 2007
  • umichnews@umich.edu

ANN ARBOR—How to meet the challenge of helping college students become good writers no matter what discipline they are in? The Gayle Morris Sweetland Writing Center at the University of Michigan is taking a novel approach by bringing together U-M faculty and high school educators to talk and listen to each other about preparing students to write at the college level.

On Saturday (April 24) U-M faculty and graduate student instructors will meet with teams of educators from 13 Detroit area high schools, which send the most students to the University. The one-day institute is called “Writing Across the Millenium: Writing Preparation and Writing Across the Curriculum.”

According to Theresa Tinkle, U-M’s Arthur F. Thurnau professor and director of the Sweetland Center, the goal of the institute is to gather information about how high school teachers think about writing courses and writing in disciplines. “We also want to let high school faculty and administrators know how we teach writing at the University,” Tinkle said. “We believe this institute is an important step toward a fruitful association between high schools and the University of Michigan.”

“We’ve checked, and this is the first time something like this has been done,” says institute organizer, Josie Kearns, lecturer in English and associate with the Sweetland Center. “It is multi-discipline as well as involving communities outside the University. High school teachers and U-M professors will share information about how they teach writing within English and the sciences. The end result will be to draft ideas for collaborations and pilot projects appropriate for the 13 schools and the University,” Kearns said. “We won’t be prescribing solutions to the high schools, we’ll be listening,” she added.

The Detroit area high schools scheduled to be represented are Andover High School; Cass Technical High School; Cranbrook Kingswood Upper School; Detroit Country Day School; Grosse Pointe South High School; Ann Arbor Huron High School; Lahser-Bloomfield High School; Okemos High School; Ann Arbor Pioneer High School; Renaissance High School; Rochester High School; Troy High School and West Bloomfield High School.

“We need to talk with the high schools,” said Robert Helling, professor of biology and one of the institute presenters. “In our course, you have to write to express your research and ideas. Our students have to be able to read and understand other writers and their ideas. They have to be able to express themselves clearly in writing.”

Other U-M faculty who will speak about writing in their disciplines include: Kathryn Tosney, professor of biology; Dennis McEnnerney, lecturer in English and Patricia Shure, lecturer in mathematics. Following the presentations, the presenters, 14 other lecturers and graduate student instructors who teach first year writing courses will meet with teams of teachers and administrators from the attending high schools.

For more details on the institute, contact Josie Kearns at (734) 764-8057 or by

e-mail, jakearns@umich.edu.

Robert HellingKathryn Tosneyjakearns@umich.edu