Midlands Literacy Initiative
Foundations Workplace Communications

Joan Mason - Curriculum, South Carolina Workplace Resource Center
Recommended by Susan Gibson

Please note: The material we are providing to you contains curriculum in its original format prepared by the Workplace Resource Center. In accepting this, please acknowledge your understanding that the Workplace Resource Center will not be responsible for any changes made to the original curriculum content. Please be aware that there may be proprietary information incorporated in this product which can not be shared with other companies or agencies.

As a resource center and clearinghouse for best practices in workplace education throughout the state of South Carolina, we would like to ask your cooperation in providing us with curriculum revisions. This will allow us to better serve the future needs of your program and to assist other programs that would benefit from your experiences.

This material represents only a portion of the output of the Midlands Literacy Initiative. For additional information about this project, or to obtain the materials in their entirety, you may contact the Workplace Resource Center at 206 Wilkins Street, Greenville, South Carolina, 29605.

COMPETENCY 11- WRITE A SHORT NOTE OR MEMORANDUM

PERFORMANCE OBJECTIVE: WRITE A MEMORANDUM TO EXPLAIN A WORKPLACE OCCURANCE OR TO MAKE A REQUEST

LESSON INTRODUCTION:
What is the purpose of writing a note or a memorandum? Answer: to express an idea or present some piece of information. With that as the goal, what must be done even before you pick up a pen or pencil? Responses should indicate that you need to know just what you want to express or convey to your reader. Next, ask the class to list characteristics they have observed in written materials and to classify these as GOOD or BAD characteristics. List these on a flip chart.

SKILL PRESENTATION:
Workforce: Building Success - Writing, Steck Vaughn, pages 78-32.

Summarize the Writing Process:
1. Establish your purpose
2. Gather and Organize Facts
3. Write a First Draft
4. Read and Edit
5. Rewrite

WORKPLACE CONTEXT REFERENCE:

A bulletin board notice reads as follows: "The purpose of this notice is to outline a procedure to assure that the oil in the crankcases of the factory shuttle carts is changed at the properly designated intervals. These carts are manufacturer equipped with four-cycle gasoline engines that contain a quart of oil. It is recommended that the oil in the carts be changed every 400 miles, but the carts do not come with odometers. Therefore, it is necessary to establish a time interval for oil change. We estimate the maximum probable mileage at approximately 400 miles per month and have decided to change the oil at that interval. Each operator will be responsible for seeing that each vehicle is driven to the auto garage at 30-day intervals for the purpose of obtaining a change of oil."

How could this notice have been stated more clearly?

"To Shuttle Cart Operators: Please bring your carts to the auto garage every 30 days for an oil change."

ACTIVITIES:

1. Group Skill Application: Work in pairs to write a memo directed toward your supervisor. Use one of the following topics or select one from your own work experience.

1) Request time off for vacation or personal leave
2) Request the purchase of specific supplies
3) Describe an accident or a "near miss" situation
4) Explain a machine malfunction
5) Request additional help on a project

Remember to follow the 5 steps in the writing process. The instructor should respond to the requests. In reviewing the memos, the class as a group should refer to their list of "good" and "bad" writing characteristics (prepared in the Lesson Introduction) and make suggestions for revisions where applicable.

2. Group Skill Application: Work in pairs to rewrite the sentences on the Skills Application Worksheet.

3. Individual Skill Application: Ask students to follow 5 steps in the writing process to write a short letter disputing a charge on a credit card.

SKILL APPLICATION #2

Rewrite the following poorly written sentences:

1. He inquired as to whether it would be permissible to utilize the facilities.

2. In order to substantiate our desire to accommodate our guests, we will appreciate your cooperation in anticipating your credit requirements prior to your departure date.

3. Exposure to an insignificant magnitude of instruction, education wise, leads to a mindset with potential for creating perilous glitches at some point in time.

4. In the period between the months of July and September, our sales have experienced a slightly negative trend.

5. Operators were familiarized with the proper utilization of equipment to enhance the manufacturing process safetywise.

SKILL APPLICATION EXERCISE #2 ANSWERS

1. He asked to use the building.
2. Let us know if you will need to cash a check before you leave.
3. A little learning is a dangerous thing.
4. Between July and September, our sales fell.
5. Operators were taught to use safety equipment.

POST TEST FOR COMPETENCY 11- WRITE A SHORT NOTE OR MEMORANDUM

Number on your paper from 1-5 and rewrite the following steps in the writing process in their proper order:

Establish your purpose
Write a first draft
Rewrite
Read and Edit
Gather and Organize Information

Indicate whether each of the following statements is TRUE or FALSE:

6. The subject of a memo should always be clearly presented.
7. Correct grammar is not essential in business writing.
8. To be concise in presenting information in a memo, you must write a lengthy explanation of all the information you can possibly include on the subject. Rewrite each of the following sentences to convey the message more clearly.
9. In the timeframe between April and August, our sales have experienced a significantly positive trend.
10. It will not be permissible for your organization to utilize our facility for your organizational endeavor.

ANSWERS FOR POST TEST FOR COMPETENCY 11

1. Establish your purpose
2. Gather and Organization Information
3. Write a first draft
4. Read and Edit
5. Rewrite
6. True
7. False
8. False
9. Between April and August, our sales have increased. 10. Your company cannot use our building for its meeting.

COMPETENCY 12 - WRITE TO DESCRIBE A WORKPLACE SITUATION OR OCCURANCE

PERFORMANCE OBJECTIVE:
WRITE A DESCRIPTIVE PARAGRAPH ABOUT A WORKPLACE EVENT OR SITUATION

LESSON INTRODUCTION:

Ask the class to list examples of situations in which they have had to write a paragraph that describes something that has happened. Possible suggestions might include: writing personal letters, filling in a report form that describes a traffic accident, completing an insurance claim form, explaining a medical problem on a doctor's check-in form.

Show the following descriptive paragraph to the class. Read the paragraph together and ask the class to select the subject of the paragraph and to point out strong or weak characteristics:

I was operating a bulldozer for the Palmetto Construction Company. I was leveling the site location between First Street and Main Street in Greenfield. A black Thunderbird parked to my rear as I was working. I did not see the car and I backed into it. The right front heading was smashed and the fender was bent. The owner of the car was Bryan Buford, 18 Alllison Way, Greenfield, S.C. Now damage was doneto the bulldozer.

SKILL PRESENTATION:
Use materials in the Instructor Packet to stress the following:

Step One: Plan your writing 1. Who is your audience?
2. What is your purpose?
3. What do you want to say?
4. How should you organize the information?
5. What examples or details will help to explain you main points?
6. What is an effective format?

Step Two: Prepare a rough draft to get your ideas down on paper.

Step Three: Revise your document
1. Will the reader understand what you have written?
2. Is the order of your information easy to follow?
3. Do you have useful examples or details?
4. Have you included enough information?
5. Is there too much information provided?
6. Is your grammar and sentence structure accurate?
7. Is your writing clear and legible?

WORPLACE CONTEXT REFERENCE:

Ask the class to consider the job-related situations in which they would need to write.

Who would read what they have written?
1. People to whom you give instructions.
2. People who supervise your work.
3. Co-workers who need to know information about your work.
4. People you need to ask for help or to get information from.
How can you best communicate with these people? Know and clearly express your purpose - the goal of writing.

ACTIVITIES:

1. Individual Skill Application: Obtain pictures of events or situations in the workplace and have students write a descriptive paragraph concerning the activities pictured. Clarity in describing the activity as well as sentence structure should be considered. When the paragraphs are completed, group the students into small groups. Provide each group with a scattered collection of the pictures relating to the paragraphs that students in each group have written. Have each student read his paragraph to the group and have the group select the picture that is being described.

2. Group Skill Application: From the "Puzzle Paragraphs" included, cut out each sentence and place the pieces in an envelope. Give one envelope to a group of students and ask them to reconstruct the paragraph.

(TEACHER PACKET)

WRITING SKILLS THAT WORK

MAKE SURE THAT YOUR WRITING CLEARLY COMMUNICATES WHAT YOU WANT TO SAY

1. KNOW TO WHOM YOU ARE WRITING.

WHAT DO THEY KNOW?
WHAT DO THEY NEED TO KNOW?

2. INCLUDE ESSENTIAL INFORMATION:

WHO
WHAT
WHEN
WHERE
WHY

3. PROVIDE DETAILS, EXAMPLES, EXPLANATIONS.

4. USE THE LANGUAGE YOUR READER WILL UNDERSTAND

TIPS FOR WRITING THAT WORKS

1. BE YOUR OWN EDITOR

2. IF YOU HAVE ANY QUESTION ABOUT WHAT YOU'VE WRITTEN, LET IT COOL OVERNIGHT.

3. COPY ONLY THOSE PEOPLE WITH A DIRECT INTEREST IN YOUR SUBJECT

4. TO EXPAND YOUR VOCABULARY, TRY CROSSORD PUZZLES

5. AVOID "BUZZ" WORDS, SLANG, OR JARGON

6. DON'T START WRITING UNTIL YOU KNOW WHAT YOU WANT TO SAY.

7. USE EXCLAMATION POINTS SPARINGLYY

8. WRITE IN PLAIN ENGLISH. If YOU WOULDN'T SAY IT, DON'T WRITE IT.

9. REMEMBER "K.I.S.S." KEEP IT SHORT AND SIMPLE.

10. BEFORE YOU SIGN IT, READ IT.

11. REMEMBER YOUR AUDIENCE.

12. USE A DICTIONARY OR GRAMMAR HANDBOOK.

THREE-PART WRITING STYLE

ALL WRITTEN COMMUNICATION CONSISTS OF A BEGINNING, A MIDDLE AND AN END.

1. BEGINNING:

THE OCCASION FOR THE WRITING
THE POINT OF THE MESSAGE

2. MIDDLE:

THE MESSAGE TO BE CONVEYED

3. END:

SUMMARIZE YOUR PURPOSE

PARAGRAPH DEVELOPMENT

1. PUT YOUR IDEA IN YOUR FIRST SENTENCE (THE TOPIC SENTENCE)

2. SUPPORT YOUR IDEA OR GIVE ADDITIONAL INFORMATION (FACTS) IN THE FOLLOWING SENTENCES.

3. CONCLUDE YOUR POINT OR SUMMARIZE YOUR IDEA WITH THE FINAL SENTENCE.

GENERAL RULES

1. KEEP IT SHORT.

2. BE NATURAL.

3. BE RESTRAINED IN USING, BUT DO NOT UNNECESSARILY AVOID "I".

4. UNLESS YOUR PERSONAL OPINIONS ARE DESIRED, CONCENTRATE AS OBJECTIVELY AS POSSIBLE ON THE CONDITIONS YOU ARE REPORTING.

5. AVOID SUPERLATIVES AND EXTREME LANGUAGE. 6. WRITE AS SIMPLY AND CLEARLY AS POSSIBLE.

PUZZLE PARAGRAPHS

VACATION REQUEST

I would like to request a day off on Monday, September 12.

I am in the process of selling my home and buying a new one.

My real estate agent has asked me to be at the First Savings Bank at 9:30 a.m. that morning in order to arrange financing.

This is the only time that all parties involved can get together.

ACCIDENT REPORT

On Friday, August 8, 1998, I was involved in an accident in the plant warehouse.

A forklift backed over my left foot, breaking it in three places.

I was listening to a tape on my portable cassette player while moving some cartons and did not hear a warning signal, if one was given.

The forklift operator summoned help and notified my supervisor.

The accident will cause me to be out of work for the next two weeks.

MACHINE MAINTENANCE REPORT

Maintenance was requested on Processing Unit #345.

The work requested was to inspect a meter that was malfunctioning.

First I tested the meter under several conditions.

It was found to be defective and I replaced it.

Once the part had been replaced, the unit was tested and found to be operational.

The work was completed in 25 minutes and a billing to Production 5 has been processed.

POST TEST FOR COMPETENCY 12

Competency - Write to describe a workplace situation or occurrence.

Indicate whether each of the following statements is TRUE or FALSE:

1. A first step to effective writing is to plan what you want to communicate before you write a single word.

2. A rough draft should never be changed.

3. Essential information in a written communication will usually answer the questions: who, what, when, where, and why.

4. Workplace writing doesn't follow the normal English rules for grammar.

5. You should write workplace communications in a language that your reader can understand.

6. It's important to consider who will read you written communication.

7. All written communication has a beginning, a middle, and an end.

8. Fact and examples are found in the topic sentence paragraph.

9. Workplace writings usually do not call for personal opinions.

10. Legible handwriting is important to good written communication in the workplace.

ANSWERS TO POST TEST FOR COMPETENCY 12

1. TRUE
2. FALSE
3. TRUE
4. FALSE
5. TRUE
6. TRUE
7. TRUE
8. FALSE
9. TRUE
10. TRUE