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New Homeroom Writing Lab Provides Expert Assistance to Students

New Homeroom Writing Lab Provides Expert Assistance to Students

On Wednesday, March 13, the Portage High School Writing Lab opened to all students during their homerooms. The writing lab is designed for students to receive assistance and feedback on their writing, as well as help them review any writing concepts that they may struggle with. 


The writing lab was created after a conference between members of the English department and Purdue University highlighting how to prepare students for college. Writing Labs are a common resource available at many colleges, providing help for issues such as brainstorming, formatting, grammar, and punctuation.

English teacher and supervisor of the writing lab, Ms. Rachel Calderone, had previously worked as a writing lab tutor when in college. Her experience gave her an understanding of the benefits of giving and receiving feedback from peers. 

“It was extremely beneficial to students who need that resource time to get help with their writing. Often, students might be shy in asking help from their teachers one-on-one, so having a peer that can speak their language and guide them encourages them to take more ownership in getting help.” Calderone said. 

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The writing lab is operated by juniors and seniors who have strong writing and language arts skills. They are trained and supervised by Calderone, as well as fellow English teachers Ms. Anna Dimov, Mrs. Marcia Hobart, and Ms. Jodi Newby. 


Newby believes that having a student-runned writing lab encourages students to be more willing to seek help, as they will receive feedback and lessons from their very own peers.


“ I think students are more open to receiving feedback from peers, so I think the peer-to-peer communication is better. [The tutors] can talk to my students in a different way than I can, a way that would make them understand it better and that they would be more open to hearing. You’ve been in the trenches, you’ve been in these classes, you’ve had the assignments before. You get what the expectations are.”


Calderone agrees, stating that having peers review students’ writing can boost their confidence. 


“Getting feedback and advice from people that are in your same shoes can make you feel like they are more relatable and approachable,” Calderone expressed, “Sometimes, kids get really defeated with my feedback and feel as if my corrections might be unattainable simply because I am the adult in the room. I’ve had students receive help from my more high achieving students, and it is the same advice I have already given them or have instructed on in class, but the students being tutored are more receptive to a peer helping them out.”


The writing lab reviews any works of writing that students may have for any of their classes. This includes research papers, argumentative essays, and even narratives. Additionally, there are many helpful handouts provided to students, including reminders on MLA format, how to structure body paragraphs using the TIQA format, and how to write introductions and conclusions. 

The writing lab meets every Wednesday during homeroom. In order to enter a session, students must either self select a session on PowerSchool or make a request with their teacher. 


Newby encourages all students to take advantage of the writing lab.


“It’s there, it’s available, use it! It’s a great tool!”

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