Archive for the ‘Business Writing’ Category

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Ten Ethical Scenarios for Professional Writing

posted: 6.23.15 by Traci Gardner

Last week, I proposed a compass-based activity for Discussing Ethics Scenarios in Professional Writing classes. This week I’m sharing ten scenarios to use with last week’s ethical compass. Most of the scenarios have alternative solutions or choices that you can discuss beyond the simple choice of where the situation falls on the ethical compass. [read more]

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Categories: Business Writing, Traci Gardner
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Professional Writing and Codes of Ethics

posted: 6.9.15 by Traci Gardner

This week, I want to talk about an activity for a professional writing course that explores the ethical principles that apply to professional writers. Students will return to these principles throughout the term. This idea grew from work I did last week at the Pathways Summer Institute, sponsored by the Virginia Tech Office of General Education. [read more]

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Categories: Activity Idea, Business Writing, Traci Gardner, WAC/WID
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Self-Assessment as Final Exam

posted: 4.28.15 by Traci Gardner

This line graph from a student’s final exam shows the progression of forum posts that the student submitted during the term. His goal was to demonstrate his steady progress toward the required number of posts through the entire course.

Just a glance at the graph tells me that the student fulfilled that part of the participation assignment for the course. Naturally, I still spot check the forums, and I keep an eye on students’ forum posts during the term. I ask students, however, to do the work of examining their forum participation and assessing how well they have done by writing a completion report for their final exam. [read more]

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Categories: Assessment, Assignment Idea, Business Writing, Portfolios, Traci Gardner
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Quizzes Work: True or False?

posted: 1.27.15 by Traci Gardner

Last month, I considered the strategy of including quizzes in a writing course. Essentially, while I hated pop quizzes as a student, I thought I might be shortchanging students who do well as test takers. I decided to try quizzes in the online technical writing course during Virginia Tech’s Winter Session.

Now that the course is over, I have to admit that the quizzes seemed useful and effective. Logistically, the system was simple to set up. [read more]

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Categories: Assessment, Business Writing, Learning Styles, Traci Gardner
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A Surprise from Google Drive

posted: 11.25.14 by Traci Gardner

Maybe it’s just me, but I suspect that every teacher wonders if students will build on what they learn in a class or even use the information in the future. Now thanks to Google Drive I have irrefutable evidence that they do.

First, let me provide some background. I have been trying to make the assignments in my Technical Writing classes relate closely to tasks students need to do anyway, either as interns, in their classes, or as they prepare to enter the work force. I talk explicitly about how the tasks relate to the workplace writing they are doing or will do. [read more]

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Categories: Business Writing, Teaching with Technology, Traci Gardner
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Bad Cover Letters

posted: 3.18.08 by Barclay Barrios

There are a number of sites on the Web with examples of bad cover letters. Have your students review the material on cover letters in the handbook and read these examples of what not to do. Use this to prompt a discussion about the important elements of a cover letter or ask your students to revise a bad cover letter to make it more effective.

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Categories: Business Writing, Document Design, Revising, Teaching with Technology
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5 things I do with email

posted: 2.28.08 by Barclay Barrios

About 90% of my job as Director of Writing Programs involves writing and responding to emails. In fact, I answer so much email for a living that my friends know better than to email me—I rarely have the energy to answer emails at home. For me, email is both boon and bane. It’s also ineluctable, and so I’ve given a lot of thought to the role I want it to play in my teaching. Here are some of the practices I use to make it more boon than bane:

1. Create clear email policies

When I am orienting our new teachers, I stress the importance of good email hygiene, which includes a clear statement of email policies on their syllabi. For starters, I encourage them all to separate personal and work email by using their university email address for teaching and a separate email account for personal email. Otherwise, they’re going to be confronted with student emails when they really want to be answering an email from their best friend. Then, I ask them to include information on their syllabus about accepting work through email (I will do so only if the student has made arrangements with me in advance and only if a paper copy is provided the next class) and the times they check email (I only do so while in the office and never on weekends). Setting these boundaries from the start guards sanity while providing students reasonable electronic access to you.

2. Student email addresses

In my business and technical writing classes, I often discuss the importance of a professional email address. Many students will create resumes that include a personal email address that may create a poor impression on future employers. In order to help students realize the potential damage an informal email address can do to their future careers, ask them to research the problem on the Web—a search for “unprofessional email address” is a good start. Have them bring in examples of inappropriate email addresses, which can generate a lot of laughs in class, but then also have students alone or in collaborative groups create a list of resources for free email or tutorials on setting up a new email account.

3. Audience awareness in email

We’ve probably all received email from students with informal syntax, grammar, and spelling. Have students review the material in their handbooks on audience, tone, and (if available) electronic correspondence. Bring in some examples of these emails (with identifying information removed) to use in a discussion about these issues. Work with your students to determine the appropriate tone to use in emails to you but also use this as an opportunity to discuss writing to an audience in general.

4. Spam revisions

One really fun way to work on issues of grammar is to bring in some examples of email spam for students to revise. For homework or in small groups in class, ask students to first identify any errors in the spam and then to revise it.

5. Informal peer groups

Email is a quick and easy way for students to work and collaborate outside of class. Assign students to email peer groups, having all members of the group trade email addresses. Then have students email small portions of their drafts to each other over the course of an assignment—perhaps just the introduction. Working through email creates a peer group that can be available as students work on their drafts; sending only small pieces of the paper keeps the workload manageable and targeted.

How does email impact your teaching? Do you use it in class?

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Categories: Assignment Idea, Business Writing, Revising, Teaching Advice, Teaching with Technology
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Attack of the Grammar Nazis

posted: 2.25.08 by Barclay Barrios

Ask your students to hunt down grammatical errors in the real world: business signs, newspaper articles, song lyrics, and more. For each error they locate, they should also locate the section of the handbook that addresses the issue. Use this also as an opportunity to discuss the contexts that make error-free writing most important.

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Categories: Assignment Idea, Business Writing, Grammar & Style, Popular Culture
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Advertising the Power of Speech

posted: 4.9.07 by Barclay Barrios

Ask students to choose a part of speech or a type of sentence and then design a print or radio ad that sells the benefits of their choice/“product” to the public.

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Categories: Assignment Idea, Business Writing, Grammar & Style, Popular Culture
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Careers and Grammar

posted: 3.7.07 by Barclay Barrios

Have students contact a professional in their field or future career, using the resources of your campus’s career center if needed. Ask students to conduct a brief e-mail interview of no more than five questions asking the professional about how much writing she or he does in the workplace and whether or not grammar matters in the field.

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Categories: Business Writing, Grammar & Style
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