Yesterday I reprinted some questions generated by Carol Booth Olson, and the first and most crucial one is this:What is missing from adolescent writing instruction? As I thought about this question, I realized my original answer is no longer a factor - at least in our state.
Until a few months ago, I would have said that technical writing is missing, but thanks to a number of individuals from several districts and colleges, Utah twelfth-graders can opt to enroll in Technical and Professional Communication: "Real Writing for the Real World."
For nearly a year, district language arts consultants and specialists researched various programs at universities and community colleges. After meeting with these instructors and professors, the group created a NEW core curriculum focused upon writing for the real world. And what does that mean? It means a VERY DIFFERENT set of standards and objectives.
- Biggest difference - the Tech Communication class will NOT be literature based. That means teachers will NOT try to create a technical writing assignment connected to Pride and Prejudice. (ex. Write a memo from Bingley to Mr. Darcy informing him that he has covered Wickham's expenses for the past 3 months.)
- The Tech Communication class will be "case-study based," meaning that students will read, review, and analyze this different genre to identify the problems and work out the best solutions.
- Teachers who facilitate these classes MUST complete the training as designed by the higher ed instructors. Educators from Jordan's four high schools joined with other teachers from throughout the state at the initial training on January 8 and 9. Depending upon enrollment, future trainings will be scheduled.
Attending teachers are enthusiastic about this cutting-edge opportunity to provide an alternative to the traditional language arts class. For those students whose interests and talents lie in the direction of technology-based learning, this change is a welcome one. It will be exciting to see how it all unfolds.