Overview of Project 5

This is the post for the November 4, 2014 class meeting.

This week, we start discussion of definitions, descriptions, and instructions.

Class Work for November 4

These are the tasks to complete for today’s work:

  • Present details on your forum posts and participation grade.
  • Go over the assignment for Project 5.
  • Read about the genres of technical description, definition, and instructions (chapter 14 of Markel).

Forum Posts & Participation Grade

With about five weeks left of class time, be sure you are where you want to be for the Forum Posts and Participation portion of your grade, which is worth 16% of your overall course grade. The information will help you make sure you meet your goals for the course as well as help you when we get to Project 6, which will report on your progress and accomplishments in the course.

Getting Started on Project 5

The fifth assignment is to create documents that will tell a middle or high school student about your field, in preparation for a career day event. You can write up to three documents: a description, step-by-step instructions, and a glossary.

Here’s what I want you to do:

    1. Read the assignment completely. Begin thinking about the goals you will set for the assignment and the specific field you will choose.

    2. If you have any questions (today or in the future) about the assignment, go to the Questions about Project 5 topic in the forum and add them. You can skim through this topic for answers as well.

Discussing Technical Description, Definition, and Instructions

Nearly everything you need to know to complete Project 5 is included in chapter 14, so I urge you to read the textbook thoroughly and follow the advice that it offers. To help you navigate the chapter, let me provide a few tips:

  • The extended definition that you are writing should provide someone who knows nothing about your field with a clear understanding of what your job will involve. Pay particular attention to the strategies on pages 362–66, which demonstrate different ways you can organize your definition.

  • Instructions follow very specific formats, with numbered steps and imperative verbs (commands). Pay particular attention to the information on page 377 about open, airy design. Also notice the details on adding appropriate warnings and the use of signal words. Finally, follow the guidelines for “Drafting steps in Instructions,” on pages 382–383.

  • A glossary usually uses sentence definitions, so pay attention to the information on pages 361–362 if you decide to complete that document. Remember that a glossary should be alphabetized and that the layout should make the defined terms stand out. Someone should be able to look at your glossary and know immediately what it is by the design and layout. There’s an excerpt of a glossary on page 330.

The information in the textbook is very important to your success for the project. Rather than asking you to respond to discussion questions today, I am asking that you read the chapter closely, looking for details that will help you with your project. As you read if you have any questions, please post them in the forums.

On Thursday, I will share some tips on finding and using graphics and provide some examples documents. I want you to be ready to tell me what your plan is for Project 5—in particular, I want to know what you will focus your instructions on, if you choose to write them, so that I can make sure you have chosen something that fits the length expectations.