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									                      Newsletter Assignment
                        Independent Study
Large corporations often have in-house newsletters to update employees on decisions,
benefits, activities, and general information. It is your job to provide the how-to's of
writing every month. Therefore, you write a short column monthly about how to
write well and keep current in the business world. Every month, you choose a
different topic: aspects of grammar, punctuation, mechanics, clarity, conciseness,
whatever you notice that needs correcting in the workplace. You give advice about
one specific aspect of writing to colleagues or novices in your field or related field.

This text will be short, but informative, and illustrated with
appropriate examples.
Audience:        Your audience is beginners or colleagues in your career field or
related career fields. You may assume your article will appear in a newsletter
designed for employees of your company. You can create your audience by carefully
wording the first few sentences that let the reader know what group you are targeting
specifically.

Purpose:      Your purpose is to help your colleagues improve their writing in some
specific way. Try to show them how to do one thing well rather than give a lot of
general information. For example, give a short lesson on how to decide between
using who and whom. Give advice on what to include in the summary section of a
proposal.

You can be creative here in deciding what to present. Assuming you write a column
monthly, you can stretch out your ideas. Don't try to do too much at one time. Use a
search engine to look for writing ideas and information. There are many out there.
Feel free to use any source that will back up your information.

Consider your voice also. You should be engaging and amusing, if you can. Write
this like you are speaking with someone and want to entertain while you teach. Your
goal is to have employees read your column and put your advice into action. One way
to do that is to give advice and examples that are easy to understand and presented in
an amusing or interesting way.
Length:        The size of a typical newsletter column is about 500 words of printed
copy or about 2 1/2 pages of double-spaced text. The guidelines for your newsletter
article is slightly less: 350-400 words.

What follows are student submissions of newsletter articles. Note two things:

1. They often start with a question, like an Ann Landers' column, that has to be
answered. That is one technique that you can use if you like. However, you don't
have to. You could start with an amusing error you saw recently. For example, I'm
always spotting spelling errors or incorrect grammar usage on advertising signs, etc.

2. These are student submissions and therefore, they are not perfect. However,
they will give you an idea of what to shoot for and go beyond. When you read these
student papers, critique their effectiveness by using the following criteria:

     (a) Does the writer state clearly what he/she wants the reader to learn?
     (b) Does the writer create interest through the introduction?
     (c) Does the writer make the readers see the importance of the advice?
     (d) How many examples or statistics are used to convince the reader or help the
reader understand the material? How many do you think you need?
     (e) Would other information be helpful? What what you include or do
differently?


Example 1:
                                     Writing Workshop
                                      with Jane Doe

Question: I know that teachers have many audiences. They write a lot of letters to parents
and colleagues as well as their students. How can I be sure my meaning is clear to my
readers?

Answer: Clearly, writing for parents and other audiences is important in the teaching
profession. Writing by teachers ranges from evaluations of students, to writing for other
professionals that is technical and objective, to writing to students, which must be clear and
concise. The readers are most likely to be interested in how a student is doing in class and what
improvements can be made to increase the student's learning and achievement. However, where
educational professionals want facts about student performance, parents are often looking for
reassurance that the student is doing well or that improvements can be made. Writing for these
two groups takes knowledge of the audience's needs and their understanding of the education
profession.
A teacher must realize that when writing to parents rather than colleagues, the document must be
easy to understand. Writing to parents can be difficult. Parents are as diverse as the students in
your classrooms. They differ in socio-economic background, ethnicity, and educational
background. Some parents may not have a high level of education. So, writing should be clear,
but not patronizing. The letter should also be somewhat more personal that a professional
document to other educators. It is easy for parents to become defensive if they believe that their
children are not being treated fairly. Writing to parents should be objective, yet reassuring. If
you must give some difficult news to a parent, be sure to mention something positive about the
student and reassure the parent that there are things that the parent and child can do to assure
success. Material should be comprehensible so as to avoid any miscommunication between
teacher and student.

It all boils down to knowing your audience. The classroom teacher must be able to discern
between the different possible audiences and write appropriately for each. Write in your own
natural voice, but keep the audience in mind. Most of your readers will appreciate writing that is
pleasant to read and easily comprehensible. In the case of a parent, describe to yourself the
average parent of students in your classes. This could vary greatly from school to school, and
neighborhood to neighborhood. Write to that parent based on their perceived education level and
attitude about education. Some parents are high school dropouts with little understanding about
educational systems and procedures, some parents are professionals with masters degrees or
higher. They may be doctors, lawyers, or educators. Writing effectively for all types of parents
is beneficial to get the student the help he or she needs and will help communication become
easier, both written and oral.

Effective writing is beneficial to teachers and schools as a whole. Parents will think more highly
of the school and its teachers who write tactfully and appropriately.

Example 2:
                                       Writing Corner
                                       by Smack Smith

Question: I have just entered the police force and have been warned that my reports can
"make or break" a case. How important are reports in achieving a conviction, and what do I
need to remember when writing them?

Answer: Heed the warning. A 1997 survey revealed that 98% of Minnesota county attorneys
felt that police reports were either critically important or very important to the successful
prosecution of criminal cases.

During an interview, Sergeant Butch Weegman, DPD, revealed that a good report always
demonstrates the use of the active rather than the passive voice because it enables you to "Say
what you mean, mean what you say, and say it accurately." As H. S. Becker in Writing for the
Social Scientist maintains, "We seldom think that things happen all by themselves, people do
things and make them happen. Active verbs almost always force you to name the person who
did whatever was done." Furthermore, a paragraph written almost entirely in the passive voice
does not provide the clear and specific evidence the prosecutor needs in the case because the
facts are not attributed to any sources.

As an example, in a recent criminal case, the reporting officer wrote: "The weapon was found in
the bushes where it was thrown." His use of the passive voice lacked the specific evidence
required at the preliminary hearing, and, as a result, he was subpoenaed by the prosecuting
attorney to testify. Unfortunately, his testimony revealed that his partner, not he, had actually
witnessed the suspect's action and had retrieved the gun. Since his partner was not available on
such short notice, and because without his testimony the necessary elements of the crime could
not be established, the case was dismissed and had to be re-filed. This situation could have been
avoided if the reporting officer had instead used the active voice by writing: "Officer Jones found
the weapon in the bushes where the suspect had thrown it."

As this example illustrates, writing every report in the active voice can mean fewer rewrites,
fewer trials, less court time for officers, and more police time in the field. The active voice
clarifies "who is doing what to whom." That knowledge can make all the difference between a
conviction or a dismissal.

Example 3:
                                       Rotten Resumes
                                       by I. Ron Bars

As a personnel manager at a federal medical prison, Festus Carmichael receives hundreds of
resumes and applications from recent college graduates every year. His biggest complaint?
Grammar, grammar, grammar!

The use of proper grammar often proves to be a deciding factor in whether a prospective
employee will be hired. Often, its misuse is read as an indicator of carelessness as well as a lack
of education, or worse, as a sign of ignorance. Dr. Steven Norton, prison psychologist, says that
grammatical errors are key ways of telling when a person is not well educated. "Grammar is
stylistic and not used regularly in daily writing," explains Dr. Norton. "People get used to jargon
and become detached from proper stylistic writing techniques."

In a competitive job market, small differences tend to make large impacts on prospective
employers. Poor writing techniques often tip the employer that hiring the individual would entail
additional time and energy to try to correct bad writing habits. Worst of all, additional time and
energy for training means additional expense for the company. Not many companies will
overlook those savings when choosing between one candidate with strong grammar skills and
another without them.

Earle Dunford, accomplished writing critic, says that a poor writer makes for a bad employee.
"Common sense should tell you that the applicant whose writing is poor has no chance of being
hired," asserts Dunford.
Steven Ward, an expert in evaluating writing skills, says that written work submitted by
applicants is most often problematic. "Much of the applicant's writings are riddled with sentence
fragments, run-on sentences, dangling participles, lack of subject-verb agreement, misuse of
punctuation, and spelling errors," complains Ward. These people are not being hired.

Those who are skilled writers and communicators are not only preferred, they are hired, given
promotions, and respected by colleagues. Employees should take pride in the writing they do on
the job and be concerned enough about their skills that they learn the proper techniques before
they get on the job.

								
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