Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Topic: Real-world Writing Project

10-second review: Recruits a community group, perhaps even a business, and the students complete documents for the organization.

Title: “Teaching Writing for the ‘Real World’: Community and work Place Writing.” M Cox, et al. English Journal (May 2009), 73-80. A publication of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE).

Summary: A case study of community-based writing. Students and teacher work with a representative from the community group. Students are taught the following concerns about work-place writing: Readability. Page layout (columns, boxes, tri-fold, double-sided). Font choice. Use of white space. Color. Images (logos, icons, art work). Presentation (kinds of papers, color of paper, bindings). Headers and footers. Headings and sub-headings. Textual emphasis: underlining, bold face, italics. Charts, tables, visual aids, photos, etc.

Authors point out possible problems with the project: finding a client and keeping the client engaged. Time constraints. Negative response from the client to the students’ product: make clear that the client does not have to accept the students’ work, but will evaluate the work and show them how to improve it. Collaboration by the students is a difficult process. Suggests giving each member of the group a title, designating the role in the process.

Comment: I like the idea. Sounds like a lot of work, but the writing is real, for a real audience. I know of at least one social organization, the Elks Club in northern New Jersey, that can never find anyone to write their newsletter. Why not let the students try to do it? RayS.

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