Montgomery College Germantown Campus

Find workshop materials to help with every stage of the academic writing process!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Post-Midterm Workshops

The semester is more than halfway over, but your assignments certainly haven't stopped! Remember that the Writing Center offers workshops every week on topics designed to make your writing process go more smoothly. Check out our schedule below and see which topics we are covering. 

Questions? Email Allison Hutchison at or call (240) 567-1832.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Writing Center's Celebration of National Day on Writing

To promote the National Day on Writing, the Montgomery College Germantown Writing Center will host a special event, an exhibit on writing instruments, and several contests

Korean Calligraphy Demonstration

Witness an awe-inspiring demonstration of Korean calligraphy. Myoung-Won Kwon, also known as Mook Jae, his pen name, will write on a 20-foot long piece of paper using a mop-sized brush. Mr. Kwon has performed for the Smithsonian and Library of Congress. Experience writing come alive as an art form! Get a sneak preview by watching this short video that documents his performance at the 2010 Smithsonian Folklife Festival. 

History of Writing Instruments

A history-in-brief of writing instruments will be on display in the Writing Center from October 21 to 25. See what Mesopotamians used for writing cuneiform, a functioning typewriter, and more.

Magnetic Poetry Contest

A magnetic poetry contest will take place during the week of October 21 to 25. Create your poem using the magnets on the blue door across from the Information Desk, then take a picture and post it to the Writing Center's Facebook page. This will automatically enter you in the contest! If you do not have a camera phone, please ask a Writing Center staff member for assistance. You can also write down your poem and post it on our Facebook wall or email it to Allison Hutchison at 

Facebook "Status Story" Contest

Post your "status story" on the Writing Center's Facebook page. In the same vein of Hemingway's six-word story, your challenge is to write a story using only the space in your status! As with the magnetic poetry contest, entries are automatically received by posting them on our Facebook page, or you can email entries to Allison Hutchison at 

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Workshops for Week of October 8 - 12

This week, our workshops include Proofreading & Revising Tips and Introductions & Conclusions. 

The Proofreading & Revising Tips workshops will be held on Tuesday, October 8 from 1:00 to 1:45 PM and on Wednesday, October 9 from 5:30 to 6:15 PM. Learn how to become your own editor and find common mistakes in your writing. Get your essay ready for midterms!

The Open Lab this week is on Microsoft PowerPoint. Are you working on an assignment and need help with Microsoft PowerPoint? Don't know how to insert pictures? Can't figure out how to create slide transitions? Come by the Writing Center in HS 150 for live help on your assignment as you work. You can continue working on your assignment after the open lab ends! Open labs take place in the World Language area of the Writing Center.

The Introductions & Conclusions workshop will be held on Saturday, October 12 from 12:30 to 1:15 PM. Learn how to grab your readers’ attention in the introduction and finish with a bang in the conclusion of your essay. Keep the reader engaged from the beginning to the end!

All workshops are held in the World Languages area of the Writing Center in HS 150 (behind the Information Desk).

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Workshops for 10/1, 10/2, 10/3, and 10/5

Workshop topics for this week will be Introductions & Conclusions as well as Resumes & Cover Letters. 

This Thursday, our "Open Lab" will offer live help with Microsoft Word from 11:00 to 11:45 AM. Students can use any computer in the World Language area (behind the Information Desk) to work on assignments using Microsoft Word. A member of our staff will be on hand to answer questions about using Microsoft Word.

The Introductions & Conclusions workshops will be held on Tuesday, 10/1, from 1:00 to 1:45 PM and on Wednesday, 10/2, from 5:30 to 6:15 PM. Learn how to grab your readers' attention in the introduction and finish with a bang in the conclusion of your essay. Keep the reader engaged from the beginning to the end!

The Resumes & Cover Letters workshop will be held on Saturday, 10/5, from 12:30 to 1:15 PM.
Learn what to include in a resume and a cover letter. How can you make yourself stand apart and
get hired?

Monday, September 23, 2013

Workshops for September 24, 25, and 28

This week's host of workshops includes Thesis Statements, Transitions, and Paraphrasing and Summarizing. Thursday, 9/26, will be the last English Language group tutoring session.

The Thesis Statements workshop will be held on Tuesday, September 24th from 1:00 to 1:45 PM. Learn how to write a thesis statement as well as the difference between strong and weak thesis statements.

The Transitions workshop will be held on Wednesday, September 25th from 5:30 to 6:15 PM. Learn how to move smoothly between supporting details and paragraphs in your essays. Connect your thoughts for the audience!

The Paraphrasing and Summarizing workshop will be held on Saturday, September 28th from 12:30 to 1:15 PM. Learn how to put source material into your own words. We will go over signal phrases, patchwork plagiarism, and sentence structure. You will also create a paraphrase.

Please stop by HS 150 if you have any questions about workshops or if you would like to sign up for individual tutoring!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Workshops for Week of Sept. 16 to 21

This week's workshops are Citations and Paraphrasing and Summarizing.

The Citation workshop will be held on Tuesday, September 17th from 1:00-1:45 PM. Learn about in-text citations and works cited/reference pages for both MLA and APA formats. Students will get a chance to use library resources such as Noodle Works.

The Paraphrasing and Summarizing workshop will be held on Wednesday, September 18th from 5:30-6:15 PM. Learn how to put source material into your own words. We will go over signal phrases, patchwork plagiarism, and sentence structure. You will also create a paraphrase.

The Outline workshop on Saturday, September 21st has been canceled. If you need help with outlining, please come by the Writing Center to sign up for individual tutoring, or take a look at an outline video on our podcast site here.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Fall 2013 Workshop Schedule Announced

We're back for another exciting semester and are proud to announce the Fall 2013 Writing Center Workshop Series! Check the schedule below to see what we're offering.

Writing Center Fall 2013 Workshop Series

1:00-1:45 PM
5:30-6:15 PM
12:30-1:15 PM
Microsoft Word Intermediate
10/9, 12/4
11/16, 12/7
Integrating Sources
Points of View: First, Second, Third
All-new “Open Labs” on Thursdays from 11:00-11:45 AM
Microsoft Word
8/29, 9/5, 10/3, 10/24, 12/5
Microsoft PowerPoint
10/10, 10/17, 11/21
10/31, 11/7, 11/14

Workshops for First Week of Classes

We're kicking off our workshops this week with two offerings of Microsoft Word Basics on Tuesday from 1:00 PM to 1:45 PM and on Saturday from 12:30 PM to 1:15 PM. In this workshop, you will learn basic skills for formatting essays and similar documents. Students will each have a computer to use for practicing skills. Bring a USB/flash drive with you!

For those who are a little more advanced, we will have a Microsoft Word Intermediate workshop on Wednesday from 5:30 PM to 6:15 PM. Go a little beyond the basics in Microsoft Word and learn about bullets, lists, headers and footers, hanging indents, grammar check and spell check, and tables. Students will each have a computer to use for practicing skills.

All students, faculty, and staff are welcome to attend! Workshops are held in HS 150 (the same level as the library).

Microsoft Word Intermediate

Like Us on Facebook for a Chance to Win...!

This semester, the Writing Center launched its brand new Facebook page! Like us for a chance to win some awesome prizes, like USBs (flash drives) and gift cards! Could you be sporting this hot USB crystal heart necklace this fall?!

Or, if crystal hearts aren't your thing, how about one of these handy monkey USBs?

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Spring 2013 Wrap-Up

Well, we had a lovely semester and saw many students in our Spring 2013 Workshop Series. Currently, we are in the process of gathering feedback on the workshops to see what students thought about them. If you attended a workshop, you should have received an email with a survey link, but just in case you didn't, here is the link: We really appreciate student feedback on the workshops as we work to improve them for the Fall 2013 semester. Giving us your feedback really helps us to know how well we're helping you!

Tutoring--both appointment-based and walk-in--will still be available over the summer for students registered in Summer session classes. You still have time to register for summer classes. Summer Session I begins on Tuesday, May 28th, and Summer Session II begins on Monday, June 17th. You can check out the schedule for summer classes here. 

The Writing Center will be closed next week, Monday, May 20th through Friday, May 24th, as we gear up for the Summer sessions. The college is closed on Monday, May 27th for Memorial Day. The Writing Center will re-open on Tuesday, May 28th.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Last Week of Workshops!

Well, you've done it: you finally reached the end of the semester! Before final exams begin, we will have three workshops on Résumés. These workshops will be held on:

  • Tuesday, May 7th from 1:00 - 1:45 PM
  • Wednesday, May 8th from 5:30 - 6:15 PM
  • Saturday, May 11th from 12:30 - 1:15 PM

All workshops will be held in HS 203. We hope to see you there!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Workshops for 4/30, 5/1, and 5/4

This is our penultimate week for Writing Center workshops before the Summer sessions begin! Come in now before the workshops hibernate for the summer. :)

This week, the Top 10 Tips for Proofreading workshop will be held three times:

Tuesday, April 30th at 1:00 PM
Wednesday, May 1st at 5:30 PM
Saturday, May 4th at 12:30 PM

In this workshop, you will learn how to become your own editor and find common mistakes in your writing! All workshops are held in HS 203 (above the Library).

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

What Does Your Grade Really Say About Your Essay?

What Does Your Grade Really Say About Your Essay?

            The shock of getting a “bad” grade on an essay is not easy to cope with. Student after student has come into my office wondering how in the world they received a D or an F grade. Well, not to worry—it has happened to me, too! We think as students that we have done the best we could, and somehow, our professor is punishing us. Now that I am on the other side of the grading process, I understand that professors are not looking to torment their students—at least, most are not! Rather, Maryland has what are called “C-Standards,” which state, “The ‘C’ paper fulfills the assignment, meeting all specified requirements,…has a discernible and logical plan,…uses reasonable stylistic options (tone, word choice, sentence patterns) for its audience and purpose,…[and] is substantially free of errors in grammar, spelling, punctuation, and mechanics” (“Standards for a ‘C’ Grade in English Composition,” 1998). In other words, a C grade means the average college-level writing standards have been met. When students receive grades below a C, it means that one of the aspects of content, organization, style and expression, or grammar and mechanics, has gone awry. Students can look at “bad” essay grades and learn how to interpret them more positively by reviewing their professor’s comments and the grading rubric, and then tackling revisions.
            On multiple occasions, students have arrived at tutoring sessions wanting to know why they received a particular grade but did not read their professor’s comments. Professors do not comment on essays in order to amuse themselves. Their real aim is to let students know what parts of the essay can be improved. Therefore, I will help decode a few comments that are often misinterpreted by students. The first type of comment professors might make relates to word choice, and quite often I see “vague” or “awkward” written on student essays. The professor does not mean that the essay is stupid or that the student is a terrible writer. Quite the contrary, the professor is pointing out her expectations of college-level writing. If an essay is full of vague words like “really,” “very,” and “thing,” it generally means that the student did not put enough thought into his word choice. “Awkward” simply means that the sentence or clause structure is unclear. Another type of comment students frequently see relates to the essay’s organization. Professors might write questions like, “What is your point?” or “How does this support your thesis?” These comments mean that a student is probably missing topic or concluding sentences, transitions, or a blueprint. Without clear organization, readers can easily get lost, which can cause them to stop reading. Remember that the purpose of writing is to communicate the thoughts in our heads to readers. When writing contains vague words, awkward sentence structures, and little organization, the reader is not grasping the meaning that the writer intends. Try to focus on this watchword: if the professor did not care about the student’s writing, she would not bother to make any comments at all.
            In addition to comments, students should also carefully review the grading rubric and ask themselves, “In which areas did I score lowest?” Again, this task is not intended to beat up the student for making mistakes, but instead to help the student realize what changes need to be made. Maryland’s C-standards indicate four basic areas that any essay is graded upon: content, organization, style and expression, and grammar and mechanics. Most grading rubrics will include these areas in some way. Assessing which area the student has scored lowest in will allow the student to know where to concentrate his efforts when revising and when writing in the future. Firstly, when it comes to content, the student should know whether or not he followed the essay prompt and requirements. For instance, if the essay directions said to write a four page paper and the student wrote three, the content area would be downgraded. Secondly, if a student scored low on organization, he may need to show more clearly how the supporting details relate to the main points, or how the main points support the thesis. Poor organization can often be traced back to a weak or missing thesis statement or blueprint. Thirdly, style and expression mean that, “The writing is clear” (“Standards for a ‘C’ Grade in English Composition,” 1998). This includes sentence variety, clarity, and structure, as well as an appropriate use of tone, formatting, and academic language. For example, students should not use colloquial terms like “This is really cool,” begin multiple sentences with the same words like “There are,” or ignore the rules of the formatting style their professor has specified. Finally, scoring low in the grammar and mechanics section would equate to an essay rife with errors in spelling or word choice, subject-verb agreement or verb tense, punctuation, and sentence boundaries. Again, if students are not familiar with the errors that have occurred, how on earth can they revise them? Looking over several essays at once can give students an idea of where they went astray and where patterns have emerged.
            To restore a student’s faith in his professor’s grading technique, the student must undertake the revision process. One technique suggested in the textbook, Grassroots with Readings (2011), is to fill out an error pattern chart (see above). Filling out this chart demonstrates what kind of errors are repeating. Many students I have met with have a grammar or punctuation rule memorized incorrectly, which is terrific because all they have to do to prevent the mistake from repeating is to re-memorize the rule. If a student does not understand a rule, he can seek the help of a tutor in the Writing Center or his professor. Furthermore, textbooks from entry-level English classes often detail these rules and provide examples and exercises. If the student no longer has such a textbook, he can refer to a reputable web source such as the Purdue OWL. Knowing a couple revision techniques is also helpful during this process. For instance, do not revise the whole essay at once; go in stages or categories. This will prevent students from overlooking revisions and from becoming overwhelmed. Use a dictionary and a thesaurus to revise word choice errors. Do not simply plug in a synonym and expect it to work; those slight differences in meaning can have a huge effect on a sentence’s meaning. Look back at the outline for help with organizational revisions. Chances are, not following or not creating an outline will cause huge problems when writing an essay. Use the grading rubric as a checklist for the necessary revisions; this way, revisions are less likely to be overlooked. Lastly, if the student did not follow the essay prompt, the entire essay may need re-thinking; try examining the thesis statement first to see if it fulfills the assignment. If not, then it is time to return to the drawing board, as the saying goes. No matter what the revisions are, it is the process of revising that teaches students how to write with more clarity and fewer errors.

Writing is a skill born over time. While some students may be more gifted writers than others, no one writes a perfect rough draft. As Robert Cormier puts it, “The beautiful part of writing is that you don’t have to get it right the first time, unlike, say, a brain surgeon.” To me, this is the best part about writing. As long as I give myself enough time, I can revise as much as I like until I get a satisfying final product. While it might not be perfect, it is at least worthy of a C, and a C is average. College students, do not fret endlessly over or wish secretly to harm professors for D and F grades. Try to think of these grades as individual learning experiences. Most people do not hop on a bicycle and ride it correctly the first time. More than likely, they fall down quite a bit until they learn how to keep their balance. Writing is very much a balancing act, and to keep from falling down, a good many details need consideration. Professors are not failing their students as some twisted way of exacting revenge for not paying attention in class—although that is tempting! Most of the professors I talk to desperately want their students to succeed, and in order to do so, professors must identify how writing can be improved. If a student wants to be above average, he must fall down and skin his knees. He must learn how to bandage his wounds and how to get back in the saddle. These are not just Maryland’s standards for the word “average,” they are humanity’s. We do not award mediocrity in this world; we award excellence. Strive for excellence. That is, unless, average is acceptable, and in which case, wear that C proudly.