Building Basic Technical Writing Skills

In: All Ages & Levels|Business|High School|Recipe

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The Society for Technical Communication’s award-winning 

Technical Literacy Project adapts many

real-world science instructions and descriptions for use in

high-school science classes.  These cases gradually build

student writing skills by revising, correcting, or expanding

scaffolded, sequenced text samples adapted from practical

materials outside the classroom.  

Such structured technical-writing practice is especially 

helpful for English language learners because:

 

     

     

  • It focuses everyone’s attention on the TEXT SIGNALS

     

    (but, because, on the other hand) that ELL students often

    ignore or underuse, yet which are crucial for reading and

    writing effective technical prose.

  •  

     

  • It introduces ways to make nonfiction text more USABLE

     

    for all readers, and ELL readers are prime beneficiaries.

    For example, it encourages writers to notice how nonliteral

    science idioms (“break up,” “blow up”) may thwart reader 

    understanding.

  •  

     

  • It exercises genuine, “hard” linguistic skills (ordering,

     

    explicitness, writing for others) but in ways that build

    cognitive maturity gradually rather than just assuming it.

  •  

     

 

 

 

We invite you to borrow or adapt any of these cases for

your students:

 

Technical instructions: www.ebstc.org/TechLit/trgintro2.html

Technical descriptions: www.ebstc.org/TechLit/trgintro3.html

Overview project “handbook”: www.ebstc.org/TechLit/handbook/handbooktoc.html

 

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