Announcing Writers of Mason!

At heart, all university campuses are communities of writers.

In Mason’s Writing Across the Curriculum Program, we work with a diverse array of writers. Mason’s students write in multiple contexts, with different styles, and for a variety of purposes. Our faculty teach writing in classrooms, seminars, and as part of their local and global field projects. Students and faculty alike contribute to the literature of their scholarly, research, creative, and professional communities. Continue reading

Resources and Reflections from the Northern Virginia Writing Project Invitational Summer Institute 2016, Part 2

Image via The New York Times Learning Network

Image via The New York Times Learning Network

Emily Chambers is a former WAC GRA and is studying for her M.A. in Teaching Writing and Literature. Her main interests are faculty development and curriculum resources. Prior to coming to GMU, she taught sixth grade English in Culpeper County, VA; now she teaches composition at GMU. She can be reached at

Each year, teachers who participate in the Northern Virginia Writing Project Invitational Study Institute (NVWP ISI) create an incredible number of resources, and this year was no different. At the ISI, each teacher consultant (as graduates of the ISI are called) presents a demonstration of a writing lesson they have successfully taught in their classroom. This year, teacher consultants presented on everything from found poetry, to improv, to visual literacy. Each lesson is focused on teaching a writing skill to all students; what follows is a sample of just a few of those lessons.

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The Importance of A Writing Community: Reflections from the Northern Virginia Writing Project Invitational Summer Institute 2016, Part 1

Image via Peter Anderson

Image via Peter Anderson

Emily Chambers is a former WAC GRA and is studying for her M.A. in Teaching Writing and Literature. Her main interests are faculty development and curriculum resources. Prior to coming to GMU, she taught sixth grade English in Culpeper County, VA; now she teaches composition at GMU. She can be reached at

For four weeks this summer, 18 teacher writers met in a crowded conference room, with a beautiful view of treetops, and natural sunlight filling the room through a wall-length window. Three tables were pushed together to form a “U” shape, and the tabletops were crowded with journals, laptops, pens, and coffee cups. Each day, the teacher writers discussed their teaching practice and wrote page after page. With chairs pushed close together, they shared insights, inspiration, and struggles with each other. In the morning, the room filled with the smell of breakfast and coffee brewing, the tea kettle just about to boil nearby. The teacher writers’ voices reverberated and resounded through the halls outside the room.

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“Naming What We Know About Writing” by Barbara Fister

Barbara Fister reviews Naming What We Know: Threshold Concepts of Writing Studies, edited by Linda Adler-Kassner and Elizabeth Wardle, in light of new threshold concepts that reframe the way we think about what we know.  Fister also writes to warn against the undue haste she believes some librarians have with this new Framework.  Instead of checklists and learning skills, she would have librarians and faculty think about sharing these Framework ideas in full, fleshed out form.  Foster recommends this collection of essays to librarians and those across the disciplines.

Most interesting for WI course faculty is the focus of the book Fister reviews.   Continue reading

Welcoming our new Assistant Director, Tom Polk

Tom Polk will be the Assistant Director for the Writing Across the Curriculum Program at George Mason University, beginning Spring semester 2016.  

Polk Photo

Tom’s Bio:
Before coming to George Mason University, Tom coordinated the writing center at Bowie State University in Maryland where his work focused on developing the campus’ writing culture.  He previously had taught Composition at Howard Community College in Maryland and Cape Fear Community College in North Carolina. His favorite part of being an educator is working with his students and tutors and helping them to grow personally and professionally.  Tom earned an M.A. from the University of North Carolina, Wilmington and an M.S. from Johns Hopkins University.  His scholarly interests include writing centers, assessment, and noncognitive aspects of writing.  He has also conducted research on the relationships between music and composition.


George Mason’s OSCAR program wins national award

Congratulations to George Mason’s Office of Student Research, Creative Activities, and Scholarship program, OSCAR, on its recognition by the Council on Undergraduate Research as a national model for high-quality student research programs. OSCAR provides mentors, grants, and travel funding to students. Many departments at GMU have incorporated research into their curriculum to support “sophisticated and independent” undergraduate research projects and activities. In fact, the campus-wide support for research set GMU’s program apart, according to the Council. Writing Across the Curriculum is proud to partner with OSCAR in support of faculty who teach writing and offers congratulations for this national recognition.

Read the full article here.

Inspiring Faculty Community at George Mason University


Cameron Carter is the Communications & Marketing Specialist for the Office of Distance Education at George Mason University. She earned her MA in English (Professional Writing & Rhetoric) from Mason in 2013, and she is currently a graduate student in the Higher Education Administration certificate program. You can reach her at

Over the past five years, Mason’s Office of Distance Education (DE) has supported a number of faculty and programs transitioning their courses from face-to-face to fully online. From partnering each faculty member with an Instructional Designer in Learning Support Services (LSS) to connecting them to the accessibility experts with the Assistive Technology Initiative, highlighting the research and copyright expertise of the University Librarians to emphasizing the resources available through the Center for Teaching and Faculty Excellence (CTFE), our role has focused largely on how best to connect Mason’s online faculty with the services and resources available across our campus.

As the DE Office, along with online education at Mason, continues to grow and take shape, we’ve asked ourselves – is this enough? This question has sparked a new effort for faculty support from the DE Office, mainly via an upsurge of faculty development opportunities. We don’t only want to support online program development and link to specific resources. We want to promote a sense of faculty community and a culture of shared knowledge and practice. Through a string of faculty development events hosted in collaboration with CTFE and LSS, we are making a push to inspire this shared place for faculty at Mason. Here’s the kicker – we aren’t focusing on online faculty alone.  Continue reading

Supporting Faculty Writers: Book Proposal Workshop


by Caitlin Holmes and Caitlin Dungan

On Friday, April 24th, Mason’s Writing Across the Curriculum invited three experts on academic publishing to present on crucial information for writing and submitting book proposals.  Our panelists, Dr. John Farina, Dr. Peter Stearns, and John Warren (click here for full biographies), provided thoughtful and supportive advice to attendees before workshopping proposals. Here, we will summarize a few key points that our presenters discussed, our tweets of the event (see the full Twitter feed here), and one presenter’s handout at the end of this piece.  Continue reading

Supporting Faculty Writers: Mason Faculty Writing Retreats – A Comprehensive Review


by: Caitlin Holmes

Caitlin Holmes is the Assistant Director of Writing Across the Curriculum at George Mason University.  She blogs regularly about teaching here at  You can reach her via email at

With the support of Mason’s Provost Office and Center for Teaching and Faculty Excellence, the Writing Across the Curriculum Program hosted two Faculty Writing Retreats in the past 12 months: one in May 2014 and the other in January 2015. Such retreats had occurred in the past under the supervision of the Northern Virginia Writing Project, but not for quite some time. This blog post will review the different structures of the May 2014 and January 2015 retreats, give summaries of evaluation results for both retreats, and provide a few concluding thoughts about what we may try in the future at Mason.  Continue reading

Supporting Faculty Writers: The Writing Retreat—Take Two

faculty writers

by Erica Jacobs

Erica Jacobs teaches writing at George Mason University. She has a B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. from Columbia University and has published numerous articles in local newspapers, newsletters, and magazines. 

When I received an invitation to apply to the Faculty Writing Retreat to take place during the 2014-2015 winter break, I recognized I couldn’t let the opportunity pass. It was a similar retreat sponsored by the English Department in 1978 that permanently changed my writing and teaching. That was near the beginning of my career, and 37 years later—near the end—it was time to take the body of work I’d written over the years for local newspapers and see if it would be publishable as a collection.   Continue reading