George Lucas Educational Foundation

Technical Writing in Science Class

Technical Writing in Science Class

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Technical Writing in Science Class T. R. Girill, Ph.D. Technical Literacy Project August, 2010 I have joined this Edutopia STEM group to share the on-going work of a project that develops technical writing skills in (mostly underperforming) high-school science students. Goals Since 1999 this project has brought authentic (real-world) technical writing activities into high-school classes to help meet the needs of students writing below grade level. Some are English language learners, while others just lack basic nonfiction communication skills. Traditional language-arts activities (mostly focused on fiction) seldom build these skills, but lessons adapted from real-world technical writing address this problem in direct, practical, well-scaffolded ways. The benefits flow across the curriculum: better notebooks, lab reports, project abstracts, and science posters. Sponsors One sponsor of this effort is the East Bay (CA) chapter of the Society for Technical Communication (STC), an international professional organization that naturally wants to promote effective nonfiction writing everywhere. Another sponsor is Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL), where Nadine R. Horner manages a regional science fair that spans five school districts, providing a second pathway for students to learn effective technical communication. This Technical Literacy Project's shared resources (see below) have earned several Distinguished Service and Pacesetter Awards from STC, as well as getting consistently high ratings from science teachers pursuing summer professional development at LLNL. Shared Resources Besides collaborating in classrooms with (mostly) science teachers, the Technical Literacy Project offers: * A website that features an online "handbook" of skill- building checklists, exercises, and activities all focused on designing good instructions and descriptions ( ) with plenty of background and customization ideas for teachers to freely borrow. Please take a look. * Workshops that introduce the project's strategy and materials to in-service and pre-service science teachers (during summers at LLNL). * Short monthly postings that update and expand the core resources with new cases, comparisons, and applications of effective technical writing for students--starting in September on this STEM group.

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Allen Berg's picture
Allen Berg
curriculum and projects learning centers

Dear Dr. Girill,

I just joined this group about 10 minutes ago, and got very enthusiastic about sharing an 'old' lesson plan (project fun)
I created about 10+ years ago...
I am a 'semi-retired' teacher living in Florida and am an embarrassingly techno-newbie with computers and internet 'formatting' etc.
However, I have a gift of creating fun lesson plans and discovery learning projects (using arts & crafts) across all subject areas including science.
So, eventhough most of the country is speeding frantic to 'get to' and 'do their vacation Labor Day Weekend', I am already here at my destination: which happily is Edutopia... :-)

I now own my first laptop computer (one month new) and just figured out how to "burn a DVD" with the above-mentioned Fun Science Writing Lesson
(Project) be able to share with you and other members of the group.

This is 'awesome' for me... :-)

I still draw with a pencil on paper and paint with a brush on canvas, and make paper and cardboard models for fun...
(In a future posting, I will list several very-fun papercrafting
model-building websites with free precision template downloads...)

So enjoy your Holiday Weekend (everyone...) and I will check back-in here early next week...

Thank you, this is a wonderful place to be...

Sincerely and Respectfully,

Allen Berg

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