Posts Tagged ‘technical writing’

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Trip Report Assignments

posted: 7.22.14 by Traci Gardner

Earlier this month, I wrote about Writing Center Trip Reports in my Ink’d In column, and I want to talk a bit more about trip report assignments. I developed the activity for professional writing, but I’ve adapted it to work for literature and first-year writing classes as well. [read more]

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Unlocking Grade Levels

posted: 7.15.14 by Traci Gardner

Since I returned to the classroom last August, I have been searching for assessment strategies that worked for me and for students. I tried Assessing Student Work with Rubrics, but found that they weren’t working for me. I had endless trouble Finding a Tool to Grade Online, and my worries about grade inflation and unhappy students led me to want to Forget about Grades.

As I wrote up the Professional Bio Assignment I am using in my technical writing class this summer, I knew I needed to address the issue of assessment for the work students would do. [read more]

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Fitting the Assignment to the Class

posted: 7.8.14 by Traci Gardner

Last week, I talked about a classification assignment I plan to use in the technical writing class that I am teaching this summer. Students will research their field of study and identify the kinds of writing they will do in the workplace.

As I designed the assignment, I worried about how to engage students in a way that avoided turning into a classification essay. I have no problem with classification essays, but they aren’t the right format for a technical writing class. [read more]

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Assignment: Classify Writing in Your Discipline

posted: 7.1.14 by Traci Gardner

Writing in the disciplines was all the rage when I began teaching college writing, and at the time, many of us asked first-year writing students to investigate the kind of writing that was done in the fields they had chosen for their majors.

The one minor problem I had with this activity was that frequently students hadn’t decided on a field yet. [read more]

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Professional Bio Assignment

posted: 6.11.14 by Traci Gardner

In July, I will begin teaching an online section of Technical Writing. The course takes place completely online. I’ll never meet with the students in a face-to-face classroom, and there will be no set meeting time for the class. Students will log in whenever they like and access resources on the course website and in Virginia Tech’s CMS. [read more]

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Writing Assignment Evolution

posted: 5.14.14 by Traci Gardner

I am quite picky about the writing assignments that I use. A good writing assignment should focus on critical thinking, have an authentic audience, give students some choice, and provide support for the writing students are to do. I want my writing assignments to do all that, but I also want them to be engaging and, if not fun, at least enjoyable. [read more]

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Choice in Writing Assignments

posted: 4.15.14 by Traci Gardner

At CCCC last month, I found myself in my room one night, reflecting on all the wonderful sessions I’d attended and ideas I’d heard. In one session, Elisabeth Kramer-Simpson from New Mexico Tech and Elizabeth Tomlinson from West Virginia University inspired me with their discussion of internships and open writing assignments in the technical writing classroom. [read more]

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The Value of a Real Audience and Purpose

posted: 12.5.13 by Traci Gardner

Students do better work when they are writing for a real audience and purpose. In the past, I’ve used assignments that ask students to write letters to the editor, to work in online forums that are read by everyone in the class, and reviews that are posted online. Students have a stronger understanding of their goals with these activities than they do when writing pieces with a less authentic audience, and as a result, I’ve had moderate success with them in the classroom. [read more]

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Finding Persuasion in Unexpected Places

posted: 7.30.13 by Traci Gardner

As I did last summer, I spent twelve days this month with my sister on a road trip from Virginia to Utah, with a stay in Salt Lake City for the Stampin’ Up convention in the middle. I learned a number of interesting ideas at the convention, both for my hobby of scrapbooking and cardmaking and for teaching and creativity in general. The most interesting thing that I came upon, however, was the garbage and recycling bins (shown above) in the Salt Palace Convention Center where the event was held. [read more]

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Teaching about Writing Instructions with Comics

posted: 3.18.13 by Elizabeth Losh and Jonathan Alexander

Instructions are obviously a nearly ubiquitous part of life in our visual culture and can be found everywhere from the emergency exit of an airplane to a tube of toothpaste. Unlike writing that is organized into prose paragraphs, instructions often take the form of an ordered list that may seem to be woefully lacking in sentence variety for lovers of intricate grammatical style.  However, encouraging students in composition classes to think about writing instructions can be a useful way to discuss audience and purpose and improve students’ understanding of different rhetorical situations.

Technical writing courses often include very interesting prompts about how to write clear, effective, and economical instructions.  My former colleague at UC Irvine, computer science faculty member David Kay, was fond of assigning the task of writing instructions for how to build a particular object from building toys, such as Legos or Tinker Toys.  Peer editing groups would need to try to follow the instructions to build the intended object (such as a specific house, vehicle, or animal) without illustrations and without verbal prompting from the instructor. [read more]

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