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Technical Writing: Fifty Technical Literacy Posts

T.R. Girill Technical Literacy Project leader, STC and LLNL

T. R. Girill
Society for Technical Communication/Lawrence Livermore National Lab.

Technical Writing: Fifty Technical Literacy Posts

This message is number fifty in a monthly series that began on
Yahoo's High School Science Teacher (HSST) e-mail group in April,
2007. Since then the HSST group has grown from about 250 members to
335 and these posts have begun also appearing on Edutopia's STEM
blog (
Each note talks about building nonfiction (aka "technical")
writing skills in precollege science students, especially those
below grade level, by approaching such writing as text engineering:
using science-based techniques to design prose that meets the needs
of real-world readers (has high "usability"). Each note in this
series adapts writing cases, moves, or activities important to
real scientists and engineers outside of school to help students
write more usably in all their classes across the curriculum. For
background on and links relevant to the technical literacy project
of which these notes are a part, see

hsst1 Apr 2007 Introduction of literacy project to Yahoo list
hsst2 May 2007 Explicit guidelines focus student practice
hsst3 Jun 2007 How to build instructions, a matrix approach (Hoey)
hsst4 Jul 2007 Instruction analysis meets lab practice with DNA
hsst5 Aug 2007 CSI/SUID motivates description design (cooking for eng)
hsst6 Sep 2007 Revising toward success (Shankar, ASIS, notes)
hsst7 Oct 2007 Rebuilding long descriptions to practice skills (pieces)
hsst8 Nov 2007 Revealing the magic behind writing (Ziemelis)
hsst9 Dec 2007 Driving directions bring tech writing to special
education (Mapquest)

hsst10 Jan 2008 Applied linguistics of proleptic words (Hirsch, ETS)
hsst11 Feb 2008 From CSI testimony to classroom talks
hsst12 Mar 2008 A year of possibilities (retrospective list)
hsst13 Apr 2008 Usability techniques help illustrations too (Macaulay)
hsst14 May 2008 Word counts and sentence lengths (metrics)
hsst15 Jun 2008 Better than science fiction (Cody, Mills)
hsst16 Jul 2008 Helping international scientists as authors (Benfield
and Feak)
hsst17 Aug 2008 Contrast classes build relevant descriptions (fist)
hsst18 Sep 2008 Poster design as a missed literacy opportunity
hsst19 Oct 2008 Two more reasons for using guidelines (Denton,
Seals and Tanaka)
hsst20 Nov 2008 Warnings help manage technology risks (microwave)
hsst21 Dec 2008 An online explanatory handbook

hsst22 Jan 2009 How history of science helps
hsst23 Feb 2009 Revising drafts iteratively by cherry picking
hsst24 Mar 2009 The paradox of complex words (Oppenheimer)
hsst25 Apr 2009 Are reading and writing science obsolete? (Self,
hsst26 May 2009 Verbs in science
hsst27 Jun 2009 Lessons from Darwin's list
hsst28 Jul 2009 The slideware challenge (Tufte, Powerpoint)
hsst29 Aug 2009 Text usability meets math class (Lorna Vazquez)
hsst30 Sep 2009 What safety documents show about audience analysis
hsst31 Oct 2009 Results of a science-teacher survey (ACTS)
hsst32 Nov 2009 Who reads your notes (Krebs and Holmes cases)
hsst33 Dec 2009 Usability and big words (Hand et al. studies)

hsst34 Jan 2010 Writing concisely in real life (NIH proposals)
hsst35 Feb 2010 Explaining WorldCat (instructions)
hsst36 Mar 2010 The Matthew effect on writing skill acquisition
hsst37 Apr 2010 Usability lessons from science-fair scoring
hsst38 May 2010 Notes on the map (accountability/standardization)
hsst39 Jun 2010 Heads up (headings in student text)
hsst40 Jul 2010 Writing concisely for overloaded engineers
hsst41 Aug 2010 Apprenticeship for text design (E in STEM)
hsst42 Sep 2010 The ESL connection in pharmacy (translations)
hsst43 Oct 2010 Fact, fiction, and writing skills (word profiles)
hsst44 Nov 2010 Science meets pronouns (cognitive load)
hsst45 Dec 2010 Scientists who can't write (Hamming advice)

hsst46 Jan 2011 Technical writing for knitters (usability)
hsst47 Feb 2011 Writing better science abstracts (scaffolds)
hsst48 Mar 2011 Ngram search and science idioms (ESL support)
hsst49 Apr 2011 Sharing resources at the 2011 NSTA conference
hsst50 May 2011 This retrospective topic list 2007-2011

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