Posts Tagged ‘word processing’

February 10 Webinar: Technical Writing

February 8th, 2011 2 comments
Read the Manual Sticker

Based on an image by Wrote, licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic license.

When you buy a new appliance or gadget, do you read the manual? When you are learning how to use new software, do you use the Help menu? If so, you have encountered technical writing, a genre that requires high levels of clarity and consistency as well as brevity. Good technical writing takes advantage of text features, diagrams, illustrations, photos, and color to describe a product or a process in a straightforward manner that the reader can quickly and easily understand.

Typically we teach students narrative writing, persuasive writing and writing in response to literature, but we often neglect to teach them technical writing, the kind of writing they need for math and science classes where they must write precise instructions, descriptions, and explanations. Giving students opportunities to engage in technical writing can help them gain skills and confidence that will carry over to all the other types of writing they must do.

In Thursday’s webinar, we will discuss how technical writing differs from other types of writing and how we can engage even our most reluctant writers in this kind of activity. We’ll share strategies and scaffolds for helping students write clear, concise directions, descriptions, and explanations using Pages and other applications on the MLTI MacBooks. We’ll also demonstrate how students can use applications like OmniGraffle and Comic Life to make diagrams and illustrations for their technical writing pieces.

Please join us on Thursday, February 10 at 3:15 or 7:15 PM to learn how you can help your students gain writing skills that will serve them well in higher education and in the workplace. To view our calendar and register for one of these sessions, click on the Webcasts tab at the top of this page.

Feb. 25 Webinar Notes – Drafting, Revising, and Editing

February 26th, 2010 2 comments

Thanks to everyone who attended yesterday’s webinars. I’m grateful that the power stayed on throughout both sessions and we were able to get through them. The discussion in the chat box was lively in both sessions and we learned a lot from each other. Here are the highlights:

What is the difference between revision and editing?

A few thoughts from the participants:

  • I think anyone (teacher, peer, e.g.) can edit. Revising is done by the original author.
  • When I think of editing, I think of making corrections to obvious errors (ie. punctuation, spelling).  When I think of revising, I think of making improvements to getting the thought process on the paper in an organized fashion.
  • Revising is structural where editing is correcting errors.
  • Editing is the mechanics and revising is adding details, voice, etc.
  • Revising is ideas; editing is mechanics.  Together they make a piece of writing.
  • I think of revision as improvement and editing as correcting.
  • I think revisions go beyond surface.
  • Revising working with content; Editing working with mechanics etc.
  • Revising is improving content, editing is improving the punctuation and stuff.
  • Revision=changing what you’re saying, editing=polish.
  • Editing is for correcting mechanical parts and revising is re-working the language
  • Revising is thought based and editing is more mechanical.
  • Editing to me is more like correcting a grammatical error, spelling, etc. Revising involves more: changing
  • Revisions are content, editing-making ideas fit frameworks

Flexible TextOrganizing Drafts and Showing Progress

Teach students to organize drafts (as well as prewriting and organizing materials) in folders and use naming conventions for files. Have students use “Save As” to keep copies of all drafts to show their progress.

Taking Advantage of Flexible Text

Be sure students know how to manipulate text with copy or cut and paste, select and replace, find and replace, and drag and drop. Students are more likely to make real revisions in their writing when they no longer have to completely rewrite each new draft.

Writing Applications

Give students choices. Some have features that particular students need.

Applications on the MLTI MacBook:

Coming on next image:

Others to try (free downloads that can be dropped in the MyApps folder):

Editing Tools

Dictionaries and Thesauri

On Your MacBook

Online Tools

Why we love Alex…

Alex is a relatively new voice for Leopard that can be a great editing tool. Follow the directions for setting up a key stroke for reading selected text.

Grammar, Usage, and Writing Conventions Resources

Resources from participants in the chat box:

Image by Natalie Roberts licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.

Feb. 25 Webinar – Drafting, Revising and Editing

February 22nd, 2010 Comments off

digital text worksThis week’s webinar in the Writing Process Lens is Drafting, Revising and Editing. It’s all about the words – drafting, revising, redrafting, revising, drafting some more, and when all the words seem to be the right ones in the right order… editing. The beauty of digital text is that it is flexible and easily changed, allowing students to make real revisions more easily than they can on paper. We have found that when revising doesn’t require rewriting the whole piece, students are more willing to do it. We’ll take a look at the features of various applications for word processing and discuss how we can help students choose which to use. We’ll also talk about how to organize a formal writing project, saving and archiving notes and drafts to show progress in the writing process.

When the revisions are done, it’s time to edit and we’ll talk about using spelling and grammar checkers as well as other tips for helping students find and fix errors. I’ll also share some of my favorite web resources for learning more about grammar and writing conventions and, as always, I’ll invite participants to share theirs.

Please join us Thursday, January 14 at 3:15 or 7:15 pm. You can find links for registration and information about how to access these sessions by clicking on the Webinar tab at the top of this page.

Illustration by Ann Marie Quirion Hutton

Looking Through the Writing Process Lens

August 30th, 2009 2 comments

Sportswriter Red Smith said, “There’s nothing to writing.  All you do is sit down at a typewriter and open a vein.” Short of opening a few veins, how can teachers help students become better writers? Unlike Red Smith, our students have much more powerful tools at their fingertips but are they really taking advantage of the technology or is it just a substitution for paper and pencil or even a typewriter?

Most people who have access to a computer have used it for word processing. In fact, for many of us, it’s the first thing we learned to do on a computer and it’s one of the first things we teach our students to do. The problem comes when we confuse word processing with writing. Word processing is all about how the words look on the screen and, if you choose to print, on paper. Word processing is preparing your writing for publishing. The actual writing happens in many stages, some of those stages occurring before any sentences are formed. 

One thing we’ve learned in seven years of the Maine Learning Technology Initiative is that students who use their laptops for all stages of the writing process score better on writing assessments than those who just type their final copies in a word processing program. They may use software and web tools to brainstorm ideas, to do research, to organize information and ideas, to storyboard, to outline, to write drafts, to give and get feedback on those drafts, to revise, to edit, and finally to publish. And often the published piece is something other than the conventional written story or report. 

In the next few months we’ll be looking through the lens of the writing process at digital tools, strategies and teaching practices that can help our students become better writers. We’ll explore ways that the software on our MLTI image as well as some Open Education Resources (OER) can support all kinds of individual and collaborative writing efforts across all curricular areas. We hope you’ll join the conversation and share your experiences and expertise in this blog, and in our webcasts.