How would you teach technical writing to a group of aspiring writers who do not have a hi-tech background?
Can you teach instructional and procedural writing even when the topic is, say, how to pack your suitcase before you board a plane?
AMANDA CHRISTY BROWN and HOLLY EPSTEIN OJALVO did exactly that in this New York Times blog piece about “Writing to Explain: Creating How-to Scripts and Demonstrations”.
Overview | What are the qualities of good expository writing? What is process analysis, and how can it help us write for clarity? In this lesson, students examine and evaluate a Times slide show that explains how to pack 10 days’ worth of clothes in a carry-on suitcase. They then generate qualities of good process analysis or procedural writing and create their own physical, video or explanatory, audio demonstrations or explanations.
Materials | Student journals, computer with Internet access and a projector, copies of the handout.
Warm-up | As students enter, ask each to them to write instructions for doing something that can be done in the room with available materials, such as tie a shoe, make a paper airplane, do a dance move, play a basic game like duck-duck-goose, and so on.