WORKSHEET Meeting ONE (1/27/09) Technical Writing Sp 09 / Harvard / Kalo

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1 You don't have to do ANYTHING with this Worksheet except print it out and bring it to class WORKSHEET Meeting ONE (1/27/09) Technical Writing Sp 09 / Harvard / Kalo Our Syllabus/Course Memo outlines everything about the course so read/reread that document to see if you want to stay in the course. This is especially important since the course description has changed in one important way rather than an Instructional Manual, you ll be writing an article about how to write some part of some technical document. Every meeting of our class will have a worksheet like this one that will be available at our course web site at least 24 hrs before class time. You'll need to use the worksheet in class, so bring the appropriate worksheet to every class OR bring your laptop, so you can view the worksheet on screen as we talk about it. Do not plan to follow along on your cell phone. The worksheet contains general comments, reading assignments, the details of each major writing assignment for the week, and deadlines for posting or handing in those assignments. It ll usually contain more material that I really expect us to get through at any one meeting, but let's see how our timing goes. You never have to do anything with the Meeting Worksheets before class just bring them to class. MEETING ONE jumps right in, getting us started looking over our two texts and focuses on introductions, the writing process, and audience considerations. This meeting s in-class work includes a writing proficiency exam to diagnose any writing problems (with grammar, syntax, etc.) that could interfere with your ability to succeed in this course--i'll contact you individually if I think you'd have difficulty with the course--but don't worry about this now--the writing will be easy and short and almost everyone does fine. We'll also use this writing as our introductions to each other. This worksheet also includes the Assignment #4 description. Don't panic--we'll take this longer assignment one step at a time so it won't be difficult to complete. But the assignment WILL require time and research and steady work on your part. IN-CLASS AGENDA 1/27 Meeting 1 Course Introductions/W.O.D.; Course Memo; Course Worksheets; preview A#1, #5, #6 1. WOD [Writing on Demand] + Course Introductions 2. No break get out early 3. Discuss Writing Assignment #1 4. Discuss/Start Tech Comm Blooper List 5. Discuss "How-To" Article Writing Assignment 6. Discuss Barriers to Communication 7. Discuss Time Management for assignments for next week 8. Kalo's On-The-Spot Office Hours 1

2 To Do Before next Meeting January 2009 Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat Phases of the moon: 4: 10: 17: 26: Holidays and Observances: 1: New Year's Day, 19: Martin Luther King Day February 2009 Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat Phases of the moon: 2: 9: 16: 24: Holidays and Observances: 14: Valentine's Day, 16: Washington's Birthday Assignments to Post at our course web site by Monday 2/4, 11PM EST Post A#1/Reaction to Syllabus at our course web site (click on Discussion and then on the thread for A#1) no later than the deadline. If you anticipate any difficulty posting at the web site, be sure to give yourself plenty of time to get the hang of using it. time management estimate time: set date and time: Post A#6/Technical Writing Blooper List at our course web site--insert the 6 headings and then fill in what you can under the first heading no later than the deadline. time management estimate time: set date and time: Buy Texts and peruse their TOCs o Writing for the Technical Professions, 4 th ed 2

3 o Style: Lessons in Clarity and Grace, 9 th ed.. o Other texts available online and in print form as mentioned in the Syllabus Writing With Sources: A Guide for Harvard Students And Writing with Internet Sources: A Guide for Harvard Students pdf time management estimate time: set date and time: Read the A#4/How-To Article description again and just think about what topic you might want to write your own How-To about; one source of inspiration might be our text, Writing for the Technical Professions time management estimate time: set date and time: of you have questions before our next Meeting Discussion Items From Agenda 3. Discuss Assignment #1 / Response to Course Memo For this assignment, read the Syllabus/Course Memo carefully and post your response by the date listed in the box with the calendar. Write about words or so discussing the following: what does it tell you about the course? what parts are clear to you? what parts (if any) raise questions? do you have the time management skills to do every assignment on time? what reaction do you have to the grading policy? And what grade will you aim for in the course? what skills do you bring to the course? what skills do you plan to take away from the course? Refresh your memory about by checking what the Writing for the Technical Professions text has to say and by checking on the web about using for transmission of messages. Write briefly about one new thing you learned about using and be sure to include where you got the info. 3

4 4. Discuss/Start Tech Comm Blooper List This Blooper List assignment works with all our other assignments. To complete it you will make a list of problem areas in your writing. This list should come from the following: 1) areas you came into our class knowing were your writing weaknesses; 2) Blooper Tips reviewed in class; 3) areas identified in Peer Coaching; 4) areas that show up in Kalo's Coaching on your work; 5) issues listed in Kalo's General Coaching Comments; 6) areas identified by people outside our class who read your work. I'm sure all of you know of weaknesses in your writing that you can start the list with. At our course web site, create your file, put in all six headings, write some stuff under the first heading. Once you have items on your list, you can start working on each to eliminate it from your list. Sources to help you work on these might be our texts, writing help web sites, our in-class discussions, Peer Coaching, Kalo Coaching, Blooper Tips, Style Chats, etc. Here's a sample one student [Marianne] did except she didn't include much info--like an example from her writing or anything about how she planned to work on these areas--so start as Marianne did but include more information (whatever will help you work on these areas). 1. Areas I came into the class knowing were writing weaknesses poor proofreading for things like typos, spelling, correct word usage poor grammar like verb tenses, use of semicolons, use of quote marks sentences that are too long and/or too hard to follow--so sentence structure and wordiness I think 2. Areas reviewed in Blooper Tips in class weasel words parallel construction 3. Areas identified in Peer Coaching Leaving words out of sentences wordy sentences--some of my sentences have twice as many words as they need to carry their messages 4. Areas that show up in Kalo's Coaching on my work subject and verb agreement wordiness proofreading sentence structure 5. Issues listed in Kalo's general coaching that apply to my writing being to vague when explaining myself lack of subject and verb agreement use of "there is" that creates wordiness over use of adverbs not using parallel structure when appropriate (lists, headings, etc) not using proof to back up my claims (quotes from experts and statistics) 6. Areas identified by people outside the class who read my work need better flow (sentences are wordy and hard to follow) poor formatting--need to use headings and make sure sections stick to one subject only 4

5 Start Your Own Professional Writing Blooper List Areas I came into the class knowing were writing weaknesses Areas reviewed in Blooper Tips in class Areas identified in Peer Coaching Areas that show up in Kalo's Coaching on work Issues listed in Kalo's general coaching that apply to my writing Areas identified by people outside the class who read my work 5

6 5. Discuss "How-To" Article Writing Assignment Assignment #1 Assignment #2 Assignment #3 Assignment #4 Response to Syllabus Concept Proposal Memo[CPM] for How-To Article Organization Tree + Research for How-To Article How-To Article (how to write some portion of a tech document) 4.1 Intro 4.2 Intro + Sect Usability Testing 4.4 Index 4.5 final article (Intro + all sections) Assignment #5 Assignment #6 Assignment #7 Assignment #8 Assignment #9 100wd Write-Ups Tech Blooper List Web Resources for Writers (3 min WRW) Weekly Writing on Demand (WOD) Long WOD Technical Communication "How-To" Article Let s look ahead to the focus assignment for our course, an article you ll write on "how to" write some section of a technical document (not the whole thing because that would be too lengthy for our fourteen weeks together). You won't write the document itself; you'll instruct someone in how to write the document. You'll need to choose a document you want to research and write about. How? Think about documents you already write at work or might be required to write at work in the future. Or think of documents that might have some significance in your community. What could that possibly be? Maybe some organization needs better safety information, and you could create a document that told them how to write effective safety guidelines. Maybe some non-profit needs an instructional manual to guide volunteers in doing some function of the organization, and you could create a document that would guide them in writing such a manual. Or maybe they need to know how to create a brochure. Maybe the church you go to or the school your kids go to needs to know how to produce some written instructions about something, and you could write a document that told them how to do it? Not "do" it, but "how to do it." How "technical" does this have to be? Technical" really only means providing answers to a question or solutions to a problem or updates about advances. Before you decide, think about it this way--what you write in our class could serve as a nice writing sample for your next promotion or your next job or to justify the money your employer is spending sending you to our course. How "technical" do you want that new position or justification to be? High tech? Medium tech? Low tech? For my part, I'm not so much concerned about what topic you choose; I'm concerned that the project allows us to talk about aspects of clear and concise communication--developing a rhetorical strategy, defining objectives, 6

7 analyzing/adapting to an audience, researching, drafting, editing, etc. Maybe something like how to write the Abstract or how to write the Materials and Methods section of an Empirical Research Report? Or how to write the Criteria for Evaluation or how to write the Conclusion section of an Analytical Report? Or how to write some section of a Feasibility Study or an Instructional Manual or? (you fill in the blank). Remember, not "write" the document, but "how to write the document. A. Select your topic. B. Select your audience. How will you get the how-to information to the audience who will want to read it? Publish it in a journal? or magazine?? or newsletter or website? This is important so you ll know a) who your audience is, b) what tone to use, c) what kind of graphical elements (like headings) to use, d) anything else that might increase your chances of actually getting published in the journal or magazine or website or. C. Find at least 6 current sources (9 sources for grad credit) on your topic--primary sources (you could interview someone and/or devise a questionnaire for example) and secondary sources (stuff from the library); to document your sources, you ll use the Council of Scientific Editing (CSE) documentation form as described in our text Writing for the Technical Professions and in the Harvard pamphlets about citing sources Writing With Sources: A Guide for Harvard Students And Writing with Internet Sources: A Guide for Harvard Students, online at D. Write the article. Be sure to include at least one visual chart, drawing, cartoon, anything visual. examples in the text I anticipate that for undergrad credit you'll write approximately 2,500 words and for grad credit you'll write approximately 4,500 words but let's revisit that idea later in the course. As you can see from our schedule, we ll take this assignment one step at a time (picking the topic, writing a Concept Paper, blue-printing the document, writing the Intro, writing one section, doing usability testing, constructing an index, finalizing the article). 7

8 6. Discuss Barriers to Communication TIME MANAGEMENT: HOW TO ORGANIZE LIKE A PROFESSIONAL your time professional writers plan % 50% draft % 20% edit % 30% Goals of Communication: 1) to be understood exactly as we intended, 2) to secure the response we want to our message, 3) to maintain favorable relations with those we're communicating with. Obstructions to Clear Communication a) differences in perception b) lack of interest c) lack of knowledge d) emotions e) personalities f) appearance of the communication or communicator g) prejudice h) distractions (noise, etc.) i) poor organization of ideas j) poor listening k) language itself (dialect/accent) l) time zone m) drugs n) bad cell connection o) bad loud speaker connection Write about the last time your effort to communicate failed and why you think it failed: Ideal Writing Environment Where When Conditions 8

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