The Writing Center - University of Wisconsin, Madison - MLA Documentation

Name:The Writing Center — University of Wisconsin, Madison — MLA Documentation

Brief Description of the Site:
This university site has a wealth of resources that can be accessed by site visitors who need not attend the university formally. While there are free courses online directed at the attending student body, there are valuable resources in support of improving writing skills. From the home page, the links to visit are "The Writer's Handbook" and "Other Internet Writing Sites". Those two sections alone can drive a year's curriculum for students of all levels, although the readability of the site might best benefit middle and high school students. The Writer's Handbook has links to drafting, revising, and editing, how to address different types of writing (literary analysis vs. a lab report), a section on grammar and punctuation (a digest of sorts), improving writing style by writing clearly and persuasively, and links to citations formats. The citations section is of particular interest in that it offers a choice of links to the various recognized styles (APA, APSA, Turabian, and MLA) as well as a guide for quoting or paraphrasing. Quoting and paraphrasing guidelines are particularly instructive for students with the recent emphasis on document based questioning and the use of primary source material.

How to use the site:
For an overview on how to use this site, a visit to the home page and perusal of the "Writer's Handbook" section might be first on the agenda. In the planning to write stage there are separate hyperlinks for writing a play, a poem, and nonfiction. "Creating an Argument" makes the distinction between Thesis and Purpose statements, explains what a thesis statement is and how to write one, and details for planning and writing a thesis statement. The section, Working With Sources, links to the imperatives of citations and how to successfully include that in one's work. The Peer Review component should probably have active teacher guidance so students can learn constructive criticism and specific strategies for helping to view and improve work of peers. A small link at the top of the Peer Review page merits attention. It's a "How to Proofread" link educators might wish to emphasize to students in the hopes of receiving work that has been reviewed and corrected before being handed in for a grade. There are suggestions within that section on how to harness the computer in the service of this often dreaded activity so as to make that process as painless as possible. The university has a message for its students that bears repeating. In its About Proofreading and Editing section the university affirms that

"Writing Center instructors will not edit or proofread your papers for you. Nor will they do your reading or thinking or writing for you.

Instead, their goal is to teach you to do these things for yourself so that you can become a better, more confident writer. Take a look at our Writer's Handbook for help with finding and eliminating common mechanical errors in your writing."

It's good advice.

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