CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 Michael Fawcett
Thanks to everyone who attended yesterday’s webinars. It was great to have some science and math teachers with us and I hope they use some of the ideas we discussed to give students opportunities to do some technical writing.
We began by talking about what technical writing is and what it is not and mentioned some examples. Some good resources for learning more about technical writing and for finding ideas for teaching it are:
We discussed how technical writing is addressed in the Common Core State Standards for writing and how technical writing relates to the 6+1 Traits. We then talked about the usefulness of templates for helping students use a consistent style and organization in their technical writing. I shared a Pages template students can use to write directions for performing tasks on their MacBooks. That template is available for download in the archived recordings of both sessions. The Pages User Guide is not only a good resource for learning how to make templates, but it’s also an excellent example of effective technical writing.
Including diagrams, illustrations, tables, and charts in technical writing pieces makes the text more usable for the reader. I mentioned the many applications on the MLTI MacBook that can be used to create illustrations, including Acorn, OmniGraffle, the SketchPad in NoteShare, and Numbers. Digital cameras are easy to use and readily available in most classrooms, whether it’s a camera you or your school owns, a camera on a cell phone, or the built-in iSight camera in your MacBook. A couple participants mentioned using cameras to take pictures of a science lab in progress and giving those pictures to the students to aid them in their writing as well as to be used as illustrations. Screen shots are also valuable as illustrations when writing about computers and software.
We took some time to talk about scaffolds and support for struggling writers, including word banks for vocabulary and using screen captures to get students started as they write directions for using their MacBooks. We also talked about giving students examples of professional and student technical writing so they can look at it critically and develop criteria for determining the effectiveness of their own writing.
Many of the tips we mentioned for using MacBooks for technical writing are demonstrated in our MLTI Minutes series. We hope you’ll check out all the episodes, but here a few that were mentioned in this webinar:
- Episode 14 An Introduction to Painting with Acorn
- Episode 21 Screen Recording with QuickTime Player
- Episode 24 Making Floating Stickies
Finally, we took a look at some examples of technical writing that were done as comics:
Don’t forget that you can access the recordings of both webinars by mousing over the Webcasts tab about and clicking on Archives.