Writing Placement Round Table (Tues., Sept. 22 4-5pm EDT)

In this one-hour round table session, Kristi Murray Costello (Old Dominion) and Cheri Lemieux Spiegel (Northern Virginia Community College) will lead participants in a discussion of writing placement practices, problems, and opportunities. The interactive session will begin with brief introductions of practices being used in the region and then move into open discussion and problem solving.

We have set up a Google Sheet to collect information about placement practices in VA both to inform our upcoming session and to serve as a resource for folks who are interested in placement. To this end, we hope that you will visit the sheet and include information for your institution.

The round table will take place via Zoom on Tuesday, Sept. 22 from 4-5pm EDT. Please register for attendance using this signup form: https://forms.gle/qrgWJVuuP3Due4jk6

Effective Practices in Online Writing Instruction workshop

On August 6, 2020, Beth Bensen (Reynolds Community College) and Derek Mueller (Virginia Tech) led participants in a showcase of best practices in online writing instruction. Forty-four (44) participants from 15 colleges, universities, and high schools (Dual Enrollment) participated in the workshop to discuss course design, learning management systems (Canvas), and other challenges and opportunities common for teaching and learning remotely.

Beth describes the various modes of content delivery for an online course.

Recurring themes across the workshop included the importance of establishing open lines of communication between instructors and students in online settings. Many participants noted various methods of pedagogical delivery beyond email (such as video and interactive presentations) to help students engage with course material. Establishing a consistent schedule for when work would both be available and assignments were due was noted as an important methods for building a “course routine” for students. For example, always making course content available on a Friday (so that early birds have an extra weekend) and then always making work due the following Sunday at the same time each week allows students to more easily to adapt the class to their schedule. The full slideshow can be accessed here.

The last 25 minutes of the workshop was dedicated to breakout rooms in which participants discussed concerns they had for the upcoming semester and strategies for adapting to them.

Thank you to all of you who attended and participated! Great representation from schools across Virginia!

WAVA July meeting updates

The WAVA executive board met over Zoom on Wednesday, July 8, 2020 to discuss the organization and its role during the upcoming semester. Topics discussed included placement practices at institutions across Virginia, effective practices in online writing instruction, anti-racist pedagogical practices, and a state-level higher education policy analyst position.

Placement practices at institutions across Virginia

On Tues., September 22 from 4-5 p.m, Kristi Murray Costello (Old Dominion) and Cheri Lemieux Spiegel (Northern Virginia Community College) will lead participants in a discussion of writing placement practices, problems, and opportunities. The interactive session will begin with brief introductions of practices being used in the region and then move into open discussion and problem solving.

We have set up a Google Sheet to collect information about placement practices in VA both to inform our upcoming session and to serve as a resource for folks who are interested in placement. To this end, we hope that you will visit the sheet and include information for your institution: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1bjGpcV8qGNO7nZzDkfeomx4Qaq7sI8RVitzxUeoV0Qg/edit?usp=sharing

Effective practices in online writing instruction

Beth Bensen (Reynolds CC) and Derek Mueller (Virginia Tech) will lead participants in a showcasing of best practices in online writing instruction. The interactive session will include discussion of course design, learning management systems (i.e., Canvas), and other challenges and opportunities common for teaching and learning remotely. The workshop will be held online on August 6, 2020 from 10:00-11:00.

Anti-racist pedagogical practices

WAVA has reached out to Asao B. Inoue at Arizona State University and asked him to host a discussion via Zoom about anti-racist pedagogical practices. More details will be forthcoming.

State-level higher education policy analyst position

In line with other Council of Writing Program Administrators (CWPA) affiliates, WAVA is in the process of developing state-level higher education policy analyst position. The WAVA higher education policy analyst will monitor education policies in and beyond the Commonwealth of Virginia that may have bearing on writing programs, writing instruction, or the standing of students who enroll in writing classes at colleges or universities in Virginia. A call for nominees will be sent out in the future when the position description is finalized.

WAVA Ratified as CWPA Affiliate

On Monday, May 4, 2020, the Writing Across Virginia Affiliate (WAVA) was formally, officially approved by the Council of Writing Program Administrators (CWPA) Executive Board. CWPA President Mark Blaauw-Hara (North Central Michigan College) announced the approval of the organization’s newest regional affiliate, which was supported unanimously by members of the executive board.

WAVA supports the work of writing programs, instructors, administrators, and students in post-secondary institutions, undertaking initiatives designed to support these and other higher education stakeholders across the Commonwealth of Virginia. As an affiliate, we consider writing programs–and the interests of writing programs–broadly to include first-year writing, writing centers, undergraduate majors and minors, writing across the curriculum, writing in the disciplines, and graduate programs. For more information about WAVA or to be added to the organization’s membership roster and listserv, please contact Cheri Lemieux Spiegel (cheri.lemieux@gmail.com) and Kristi Murray Costello (kcostell@odu.edu).

WAVA Election Updates

The results of the first WAVA election were posted to the organization mailing list on July 28, 2019 by Kevin DePew (ODU), elections officer. While there was no webmaster candidate on the original ballot, a webmaster was recruited as a result of a write-in nomination made during the election.

  • Chair (two-year): Cheri Lemieux Spiegel (Northern Virginia Community College)
  • Chair (four-year): Kristi Murray Costello (Old Dominion)
  • Secretary: Beth Bensen (Reynolds Community College)
  • Treasurer: Derek Mueller (Virginia Tech)
  • Webmaster: Matt Beale (Old Dominion)

WAVA Elections

All members of the organization received an invitation to vote in WAVA’s first election via email on July 10, 2019. Special thanks to Kevin DePew and Karen Doheney who served as election coordinators.

The linked ballot contained options for five positions:

Chair (two-year college)

  • Cheri Lemieux Spiegel
  • Abstain
  • Write In

Chair (four-year college)

  • Kristi Murray Costello
  • Abstain
  • Write In


  • Elizabeth Bensen
  • Abstain
  • Write In


  • Derek Mueller
  • Abstain
  • Write In

Web Master

  • Abstain
  • Write In

Business Meeting Follow Up

The following message was sent to the organization roster following the May 30th meeting:

We had a very productive meeting of the group I’ve been referring to as “Writing Across Virginia” just before the 4Cs Regional Conference at Old Dominion University last week. I’m writing today with details regarding that meeting and some next steps.

If you’re not interested in continuing to be part of this distribution list, please let me know; I can remove you from future emails. I, however, hope you’ll stay and be part of this important discussion.

Meeting Minutes
Twenty-one interested parties met on May 30 (including 7 joining us via WebEx).  Elizabeth Losh (William and Mary) kindly prepared minutes for for this meeting, which I hope you’ll take some time to review. I’ve allowed comments on this document. If you have notes, corrections, or questions, please feel free to provide them via comment on the document.

This summer we will move forward with elections to help us formalize our group and seek affiliate status from the Council of Writing Program Administrators. Kevin DePew has agreed to serve as our election supervisor. If you are interested in nominating yourself or someone else for an officer position within our organization, please let Kevin know directly. You can reach him at kdepew@odu.edu. If you’re nominating someone, please ensure you have their permission before you put forward the nomination. We encourage self-nominations! Don’t be shy. At this stage, nominations only need to include the nominees name, contact information, and desired position.

For this first election we will seek nominations for the following positions: 

  • chairs (2; possibly co-chairs or chair/chair-elect; from both two-year and two-year contexts),
  • secretary, 
  • treasurer, and 
  • webmaster.   

Please submit nominations to Kevin by July 1. For our first election, all parties on the organization’s roster will be eligible to vote.  

Speaking of the organization roster, we now have a developing GoogleSheet that will serve as our roster. Please take a moment to visit this roster and contribute details to your own row / check the information contained in the document for errors. In particular, you’ll notice that I have added a column for collaborative email (for those of us who do not have an institutional account with Google integration or who prefer to work from a personal account for field-related business), a row for position, and a row for areas of interest.

If you know I have missed someone, please let me know. If anyone is missing from this roster that you’d like to invite to our group, please forward this message along to them and encourage them to add themselves to the list. 

Working Groups
There are two working groups that formed as a result of last week’s meeting. If you’d like to participate in either, please let me know. If I have made any errors with the current members list, let me know that too:

  • By-Laws Working Group: This group will begin with the template (from Michigan’s Affiliate by-laws) to make suggestions for revision / addition / clarification before we adopt official by-laws for the organization. Currently, the following people have agreed to work on this task: Kristi Murray Costello, Tom Geary, J. Meredith Privott and Cheri Lemieux Spiegel.
  • Grant Funding Working Group: This group will prepare an application for the Paul Lee Workshop Mini Grant (VCCS) and identify other opportunities for the organization to see funding during AY 2019-2020. Participants: Karen Doheney, Megan Doney, Lauren Foster, Tom Geary, Melissa Johnson, and Cheri Lemieux Spiegel

Next Meeting
After our meeting Christina McDonald wrote with the gracious offer to help host our next meeting on Post at Virginia Military Institute during Fall 2019. VMI’s Institute WritingProgram hosts the Annual Spilman Symposium on Issues in Teaching Writing. If you’re not familiar with Spilman, you’re in for a treat. The symposium has been one of my favorite professional development events since I was an MA student. The next Spilman is scheduled for Saturday, October 26, 2019. Christina’s suggestion was that we might, with enough notice, be able to reserve space and hold a meeting that Friday (October 25). Having talked to many of you at the most recent Spilman, I think this opportunity has great potential. Thus, I’ll ask that you consider penciling those dates into your calendars. If you see any reason this date should not be used as our next meeting time, please do voice it with me. We will, of course, still offer an online option for participation.

Thanks, Ya’ll
I continue to be amazed at the excitement and dedication of this small, but growing, group.  Thanks for all you do to support Writing Across Virginia!