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What Grammar and Style Checkers Miss

Teaching students to write does not mean correcting their errors, or even preventing them from making errors. While I’m grateful that autocorrect catches most of my typographical errors, I have so far been unimpressed by software tools that aim to check grammar and style. Most of my students are pretty good readers and writers; if they are familiar with the material, when given a prompt they can churn out a…

AmLit Rescue — Scratch Game

A student in my “American Literature: 1915-Present” class used the medium of a 2D graphic adventure game to deliver her multimodal final project. (Students also wrote a traditional term paper.) You are the cameraman of a new TV show based on Thornton Wilder’s “The Skin of Our Teeth.” But things quickly go downhill when a mysterious criminal shows up and takes over the set. Unexpected faces and scenarios appear at…

Updating a handout I originally wrote in 1998. #tech #writing

A mechanism description analyzes (that is, subdivides into components for further scrutiny) an object in space. When you try to organize your major subsections, if no other obvious pattern seems appropriate, you can always fall back on the more-important-to-less-important strategy. Don’t sell the object. A technical writer is not required to persuade the reader that the object is wonderful, or valuable, or scary. But do mention the details. While you shouldn’t say an object…

Facebook Spot-tests New Local News Feed

I have no reason to trust Facebook to filter my news for me. However, so many people get their news by social media, maybe this will be an easy way for people to check whether a viral meme is a hoax. Maybe an option marked “Look up vetted news reports related to this post.” Yes, advertising the way the process will work is a big improvement over their previous cloaked-in-secrecy…