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Responding to Student Writing: Summer Faculty Workshops

The Judith Anderson Herbert Writing Center is offering a series of Zoom workshops this summer to assist faculty in all departments with the process of (re)designing classes to include online and hybrid instruction. 

The focus is on best practices and methods for becoming more efficient and effective in responding online to student writing.

Each workshop has two parts, with an initial informative session followed by an (optional) interactive discussion and practice session.

Professors, full- and part-time lecturers, and GTAs from any department are invited. Instructors of writing-intensive (“WC”) courses are especially encouraged to participate.


Best Practices for Responding to Student Writers

Tuesday, June 23, 2020 | 10:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m. (Eastern)

Workshop leader: Nancy Sommers (Harvard Graduate School of Education)

Register by June 19 at the following link:

Research on responding has shown that teacher commentary, more than any other form of instruction, shapes the way students learn to write. Written responses are the most enduring form of communication we have with our students.  When we comment on our students’ papers, we dramatize the presence of a reader, reminding students that their writing is actually intended for a reader and for a particular purpose. Yet most faculty acknowledge that they don’t know how students use their comments or why students find some comments useful and others not.

In this workshop, we’ll explore what it means to be a thoughtful reader of student writing and how to engage students in a dialogue about their work. We’ll focus attention on best practices for responding—strategies to inspire and encourage our students to revise and to transfer learning from one assignment to the next—and methods for faculty to become more efficient and effective in responding to student writing.

Follow-up Discussion & Practice Session (Optional)

Tuesday, June 30, 2020 | 10:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m. (Eastern)

Registration link will be sent directly to the participants of the June 23 “Responding to Student Writers” workshop.


Commenting on Drafts with Online Tools: Using PowerNotes

Thursday, July 9, 2020 | 11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. (Eastern)

Workshop leader: Wilson Tsu (CEO and founder, PowerNotes)

Register by July 7 at the following link:

PowerNotes is a web browser extension designed to address the challenges inherent to source-based writing in the digital environment. This tool provides students and instructors an efficient and continuous workflow through the entire digital research and writing process. Use of PowerNotes is provided at no cost to UTK students and faculty through licensing provided by the UT Libraries.

In this workshop, we’ll demonstrate the features of PowerNotes for student and instructor use, including how to annotate digital sources, organize and develop outlines, and how students can share their work-in-progress with classmates and/or instructors for review and comments.

Follow-up Discussion & Practice Session (Optional)

Tuesday, July 14, 2020 | 11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. (Eastern)

Registration link will be sent directly to the participants of the July 9 “Commenting on Drafts with PowerNotes” workshop.


Helping Students Respond to Each Other: Effective Peer Review

Thursday, July 16, 2020 | 1:00 p.m. –  2:00 p.m. (Eastern)

Workshop leader: Anne Langendorfer (Lecturer, UT Department of English)

Register by July 13 at the following link:

Peer review serves a critical function in how students learn. Even as we implicitly understand peer review to be one of the fundamental practices of knowledge creation in our own disciplines, it can be challenging to create effective peer review experiences for our students—and it may seem particularly daunting to plan for it to take place online.

In this workshop we’ll explore key principles of designing effective peer review activities for student writers, consider the different requirements of creating peer review in online environments, and discuss some ways to apply these principles in our courses.

Follow-up Discussion & Practice Session (Optional)

Tuesday, July 21, 2020 | 1:00 p.m. –  2:00 p.m. (Eastern)

Registration link will be sent directly to the participants of the July 16 “Effective Peer Review” workshop.


Contact Kirsten Benson, director of the Judith Anderson Herbert Writing Center, at, with any questions.