This lesson is part of a larger series on a group research project the class conducted to make a handbook for women's safety. In this lesson students will draft and edit each other's materials checking for coherence and accuracy.
Now that the groups have an organizational plan and they have clear resources they are ready to draft.
I spend a little time at the beginning of class discussing audience, material, purpose and tone.
1. Audience - make sure you're sensitive to your audience. Who are they? What do they care about? What are they going to relate to? I point out to students that they are writing to people approximately their own age, and to people who have similar goals; but it's important not to become too casual with one's audience. It's better to assume that the audience is not familiar with campus life or to assume they share the same values you do.
2. Material - again, it's easy to make assumptions when presenting facts and especially when writing tips or advice. It's important to remember that the subject matter is very serious and the nature of the handbook is one of concern and prevention. To lightly gloss over important facts or to leave information uncertain is to do undermine the whole nature of the project. The material should be treated with the seriousness and care it deserves without devolving into drama and hysteria.
3. Purpose - why are we creating this handbook? What need can it fill? Are there other handbooks similar to this one? If so, what do they lack? Don't spend a lot of time looking at and comparing safety handbooks, but be aware, as a reader, of the kind of information you would like to see in a handbook of this nature.
4. Tone - this might be the most important aspect to think about when writing informative or explanatory prose. How are you presenting the information to your audience? Do you strike the right emotional cadence that suggests that you take them information you are presenting seriously? Do you show respect for your audience in your choice of words and the explanations you give? If a section of the handbook comes across as light or even mocking it could suggest to your audience that you are not giving the proper credence to the material you should. Slang canbe a good way to engage your audience and make them feel comfortable, or it can alienate your audience and make them feel as though they are the problem. Consider very carefully the tone you strike in your sections.
Students work quietly on their subsections occasionally asking for help with a citation or an idea. For the most part students are highly engaged and while they do not write a large quantity of information, what they write is direct and helpful.
Once they are finished with a subsection they are encouraged to read the subsection of a group member, or even of another group. Quite often they volunteer suggestions for clarification or improvement or make comments on tone and voice.
Once a group is finished with a subsection they put them altogether into one section.