Saturday, December 8, 2012

Writing outside "The Box"

In my last post I mentioned the transcript of The Box, a program on KUHF FM (

In addition to using it for reading and listening material, I also use it for the practice of writing skills.

I focus students on the basic structure of the text:
· introduction: what the innovation is; when it ‘started’
· description of innovation
· how it was innovative
· changes caused by the innovation:
o       impact on area of innovation (e.g., shipping)
o       impact on economy
o       impact on society (e.g., port cities)
· conclusion: the world today with the innovation

Then I have them notice words and phrases used to ‘introduce’ and ‘connect’ the different sections of the text (for example: As a result; until; But the true marvel of the ___ was how it changed ___).

After working with this text, I give them one of 2 writing exercises:

1.     I have students choose another innovation that they feel is a good example of “here’s-a-problem-let’s-solve-it” engineering. They write a short text following the same structure.

2.     I have students ‘add’ to the article by writing one or two paragraphs about a further impact, e.g., container apartments – modular living units based on the model of shipping containers.

Students enjoy the "creative" aspect of this writing assignment, but they also see the connection between the technical innovations they'll be working on and the impact those innovations will have on the economy, society and the world. 

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