Thursday 3 August 2017

Written Communications Wrap!

Presentation of the Proposal Project 
As of today, I have finished teaching the ten week Written Communications course at Madison College. Today was a wrap for this individual course, but it is also a wrap on my teaching of professional writing streak! Since I started teaching professional writing in the fall of 2015, I have taught at least one section of it every semester. This upcoming fall, however, I will be teaching three sections of English 1 at Madison College. I am looking forward to the change of pace, focus, and student intent, but I will miss my professional writing course work and students, as I've enjoyed teaching this course for the past couple years.

This summer's Written Communication course was a very
unique teaching experience. The course
Student & Audience Job Skills Discussion
was capped at 15 students, so I knew it wouldn't be a large class, but I was even more surprised when there were only eight students enrolled prior to the class starting. And then on the first day, only five students showed up. This third of the cap was a great starting place for this class. Over the weeks, though, two students left in order to pursue options that were better for them, so the final three students and I finished out the last half of the semester. These students were all adults, and that leant a great community feel to the course. These students also spent seven hours a day five days a week together for ten weeks. This intensive time spent together obviously caused a unique and close group dynamic. As a class, we worked through three major projects. The first project was the Employment Project that asked the students to write a resume and cover letter. Then we moved to the Report Project which focused on writing a professional report and an email. The third project was the Proposal Project, and this project asked the students to write a professional proposal as a group and individual memos. The project foci were meant to build on each other while also exposing the students to a variety of professional genres.

Title Page of the Proposal Presentation
After a course survey, there were mixed reviews on the final project of the course, the Proposal Project. This project was one student's least favorite project, another student's midrange preference, and another student's favorite project. The Proposal Project is my favorite project of this course sequence. I like it best for a variety of reasons. One reason is because it is the final project of the course, so it asks students to practice the most advanced skills. I also like that it asks students to present a final, polished product. Students think differently about projects when they know from the beginning that they will be presenting their composition. Finally, I like that this project is a group project. That does bring its share of challenges, but it also makes students negotiate, communicate, and problem solve at a higher level.

The Proposal Project in this summer class was extra
fun because I asked friends to come in to
Professional Guest Audience
watch the presentation and offer suggestions to the students both about the presentation as well as the job search in general. Originally I thought of inviting these individuals because I realized that in a class of three students there would be no audience (other than myself) for the final presentation. I felt that that would be an anticlimactic end to the project and not as beneficial to the students, as they would have no outside feedback. Asking the professional audience to come in, though, ended up being far more beneficial than just having an audience for the presentation. The audience did watch the presentation, but then they offered suggestions about both the formatting and content of the presentation. After that, we all sat in a circle for about 45 minutes and the students asked questions about interviews, job searches, and applicable professional skills, and the audience offered suggestions and advice in response to those questions. Reflecting on this course, one student said: "most of all, I enjoyed the guests that came in. Their feedback, suggestions, and comments were really inspiring. They all had great suggestions for moving forward in the working world, which is why I signed up for this academy." Having the guest audience in the class did seem to be helpful and beneficial to the students. The students' presentation on their hypothetical small business, Capitol Cafe Company, went well, and the whole class period made for a great end to a productive course.

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