Sunday, November 23, 2014

Technical Writing: Student Invention Project

published on: 2/28/2003

Contributing Teacher(s): Brett Heinzman

Subject Area: Communication Arts/Writing/Research

Grade Range: High School (9-12)

Materials Needed:

  • See the body of the lessons for a complete list of materials.

Objective: Students will better understand the importance of clear, accurate, easy-to-follow technical writing directions in the workplace.

Instructional Strategy: Cooperative Learning

Process Standards:

  • Goal 1.6 discover and evaluate patterns and relationships in information, ideas and structures
  • Goal 1.8 organize data, information and ideas into useful forms (including charts, graphs, outlines)

Content Standards:

  • Communication Arts 4. Writing formally (such as reports, narratives, essays) and informally (such as outlines, notes)

    G.L.E.:

    Time Allowance: 3 class periods

    Description: Students better understand the importance of clear, accurate, easy-to-follow technical writing directions in the workplace.


    Classroom Component: Materials:

    • 2 Manila Folders
    • 1 Business Envelope
    • 10 index cards
    • 5 colored sheets of construction paper
    • 2 colored markers
    • 2 plain sheets of white typing paper
    • 2 rubber bands
    • 4 Jumbo paper clips
    • 1 High Density Floppy Disk
    • 2 pieces of smarties candy
    • 2 paper plates
    • 1 plastic cup
    • 2 rubber bands
    • 10 toothpicks

    I provide glue, tape, and scissors. I tell the students that they may use these items to glue, tape, and cut, but they should NOT use any of these items in the invention itself.

    Each teacher is free to put whatever supplies they choose into the manila envelopes. I use the above items for this project. I place each of these items into the envelopes ahead of time. Remember, you need to make double the amount of envelopes you need for each group because essentially the group is doing the same project twice. For example, I have two classes with six groups of five students. I need to make up a total of 24 envelopes that have the above items.


    Day One:

    The first class period should be spent giving the "Technical Writing Invention Project" handout. Please have the students follow the handout instructions. At the end of the period collect the student inventions and the assembly instructions from each group. The teacher should attempt to put the projects away someplace that they cannot be seen. The completed "student" inventions will be used again on Day Three.

    handout

    Technical Writing (Invention Project)

    Description:

    Each group has been given exactly the same number of items. Each group has one class period to design an invention that would make a "student''s life" easier at Kirksville High School. You may use as many of the items in the envelope that each group was given. (You may not use anything that is not in your group''s envelope. Failure to follow this piece of the directions will result in a zero for the group.) After you finish designing your invention one member of the group must write down neat, accurate, easy-to-follow directions explaining how to assemble your invention. (Groups that create an invention that is inappropriate for school will receive a grade of a zero.)

    Your group has only one class period to design the invention and create the assembly directions. At the end of the hour I will collect each group''s invention and assembly directions. Groups that leave out one or both of my project requirements will receive a substantially lower grade. Groups should follow the scoring guide to score as high as possible. Please be sure each group member''s name is on the assembly directions.

    20 points total (see scoring guide)

    Packet Items

    • 2 Manila Folders
    • 1 Business Envelope
    • 10 index cards
    • 5 colored sheets of construction paper
    • 2 colored markers
    • 2 plain sheets of white typing paper
    • 2 rubber bands
    • 4 Jumbo paper clips
    • 1 High Density Floppy Disk
    • 2 pieces of smarties candy
    • 2 paper plates
    • 1 plastic cup
    • 2 rubber bands
    • 10 toothpicks

    Glue, tape, and scissors will be provided. You may use these items to glue, tape, and cut, but you should NOT use any of these items in the invention itself.


    Day Two:

    The second-class period should be spent assigning the groups the Day Two Technical Writing Invention Project Handout. Students will spend the class period attempting to assemble another group''s invention based on their assembly instructions. Teachers that have several classes might use the assembly instructions of groups from one class period to assign to another class period. This will prevent any students having a preconceived idea of what the invention already looks like. At the end of the class period the teacher should collect these student inventions.

    handout

    Technical Writing Invention Project

    Each group is receiving an envelope containing the same contents as yesterday. Today''s objective however is different. Each group will follow the assembly instructions of another group''s Student Invention from Day One. It is most important that each group does their very best in following the instructions as accurately as possible. If instructions are NOT clear, do the very best you can to "guess" or make do so that your group can achieve a product, i.e., the completed student invention.

    Be sure to write your group members'' names on the completed project. Group members that follow these instructions will receive a perfect grade of 20 points.


    Day Three:

    The third class period will be spent doing both of the following. First, the instructor should allow each group to explain their original "student" invention. Secondly, the instructor should show each group the other class period''s attempt to follow each group''s assembly instructions. No doubt this will create some humor and wisecracks from individuals within the class.

    The teacher should allow groups to discuss ways in which the technical writing could have been clearer for better assembly instructions. The teacher should reiterate at the end of the hour the objectives from each of the three days. The teacher should make sure that all groups better understand the importance of being clear and accurate in technical writing.


    Accommodations

    This lesson is flexible enough to be changed to accommodate learners with special needs. For example:

    • Size-- An envelope with few contents could be designed for a special need''s student.
    • Time-Students with special needs could be longer to complete the daily assignment.
    • Level of Support-A teacher might work one-on-one with a special needs student before or after school on this assignment.
    • Input-A teacher could present a special need''s student with additional verbal instructions to assist them in the completion of this project. A teacher could pair a special need''s student with a strong student from the class to assist the student in the assignment.
    • Difficulty-A teacher could have a special needs student only do Day One of this three-day project and allow the special need''s student all three days to complete the Day One requirement.
    • Output-Perhaps a special need''s student could verbalize to another student their ideas for the Day One assignment.
    • Participation-If the special need''s student is paired with stronger students, the special needs student could be put in charge of coloring or completing other artistic parts of the group''s invention.
    • Alternate Goals-As previously mentioned, the goals of this project could be arranged so that a special need''s student only is required to complete a "portion" of this three-day activity.
    • Substitute Curriculum-A teacher could reteach this curriculum to the special need''s student, pair a higher level student with the special need''s student, or provide a different expectation level for a special need''s student.

    NOTE:

    I also cover Module Three, Lesson One, of Workplace Writing from the Communication 2000 Series by South-Western Educational Publishing. After the three days for this project, I return and cover the remaining fourteen lessons in the Module Three Unit. These lessons include video lessons, hands-on activities, and literature lessons. Some educators may also want to enrich their students by covering this module.

    For

    For additional information contact :
    Brett Heinzman
    Kirksville Sr. High
    Kirksville R-III
    (660) 665-4631
    EMAIL:
    grammarman@mailcity.com

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