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How To Determine Your Course Grade

How To Determine Your Course Grade published on

In your final exam, you will tell me what grade you deserve in the course, using the information from your performane evaluation to support your argument. In the workplace, this process would be similar to asking for a raise or some additional perk during your annual review.

You’ll determine the course grade you deserve by returning to the syllabus and requirements page on this site. First, remember that your grades in this course are based 100% on the labor you actively contributed to building and supporting the writing community and the labor you put into completing all the activities and projects in the course. In your final exam, you will present the details on what you have done and avoid making excuses or telling “sob stories.”

Remember that the Grades in Canvas are only a summary of the work that you completed (or did not complete). Your grade is based on your work as outlined on the requirements page.

To Earn a B

Graded Paper, which has earned a BYou must have completed the following activities in order to earn a B or higher in this course:

  • Created five major projects, which meet basic standards for technical writing (all earning 100/acceptable).
  • Tracked your work and participation in the course in a Labor Log in Canvas (earning 100/acceptable on all logs).
  • Completed weekly self-assessments (in your labor log) that account for the work you have completed (earning 100/acceptable on all logs).
  • Shared at least one new or revised draft (with framing notes) a week with your writing group (earning 100/acceptable on all feedback discussions).
  • Provided formative feedback weekly on the drafts that are submitted by the members of your writing group (earning 100/acceptable on all feedback discussions).
  • Evaluated your labor in the course in a performance review, which serves as your final exam (earning 100/acceptable on the final).

To Earn a Grade Lower than a B

If you did not complete all of the activities in the section above, your grade will be lower than a B. Discuss the required work that you did complete, explaining how much of it your completed. You can also refer to any work that you did beyond the basic requirements.

In your final exam, tell me what grade you deserve in the course (B-, C+, D, etc.), using the information from your performane evaluation to support your argument.

To Earn a Grade Higher than a B

Paper by jhon from the Noun ProjectYou must have taken an ongoing leadership role by helping to teach the class new things and significantly adding support to the writing community.

Your contributions may have been supportive actions that you designed yourself (with feedback from me) or actions that came from a list of possible suggestions, such as the following:

  • completed peer reviews for people not in your writing group.
  • organized real-time meetings with 3–4 people to share work and provide feedback (using Slack).
  • contributed and annotated infographics or readings on topics that the course is discussing.
  • demonstrated how to do something with one of the tools that the class is using.
  • responded to the daily posts in Discussions in Canvas
    • #TuesdayTutorial
    • #WednesdayWorkshop
    • #InfographicInspiration
    • #FridayFact
    • #WeekendWatch

Grades higher than a B are earned based on a traditional bell curve: Those students who contributed most significantly will earn an A; those who contributed least significantly will earn a B+. Note that your grade is not based on the number of contributions, but on the value of those contributions to demonstrating your leadership and adding support to the writing community.

To help you understand your additional contributions, use the information below on the number of responses for each of the daily posts (ignoring those who made 0 replies):

  • #TuesdayTutorial: High is 9 replies; Low is 1 reply.
  • #WednesdayWorkshop: High is 6 replies; Low is 1 reply.
  • #InfographicInspiration: High is 8 replies; Low is 1 reply.
  • #FridayFact: High is 10 replies; Low is 1 reply.
  • #WeekendWatch: High is 5 replies; Low is 1 reply.



Image credit: Paper by jhon from the Noun Project


All Canvas Assignments and Discussions Closed

All Canvas Assignments and Discussions Closed published on

Assignments and Discussions Closed

Closed - Please Call Again by Tony Webster on Flickr, used under a CC-BY-SA licenseNow that the last day of class has concluded, all grace periods for all major project assignments and discussions are over. I am currently closing all of the open assignments and discussions.

The Final Exam

The Final Exam is due by 11:59PM on Monday, August 14. There is no grace period for the Final Exam.


I am grading work withing 24 hours of the time it is submitted, so you should have feedback on your projects in the next day.

Remember the SPOT Survey!

Please remember to complete the SPOT Survey and include it in your Final Exam as evidence of your work in the course.

Photo Credit: Closed – Please Call Again by Tony Webster on Flickr, used under a CC-BY-SA license.


#WeekendWatch: Writing Instructions

#WeekendWatch: Writing Instructions published on

At some point in your career, you will need to write instructions. Depending upon your career, you may write instructions all the time. These videos from the University of Minnesota Writing Studies program provide useful details on how to ensure your instructions are effective.

This first video provides an overview of the features and sections of instructions and how the documents are typically organized:


This second video explains how to write effective steps in your instructions:



Remember to Complete the SPOT Survey

Remember to Complete the SPOT Survey published on

Please remember to complete the SPOT Survey, and mention that you have done so in your Final Exam.

Currently 2/3 of the class has completed the survey (shown below).

SPOT response rate as of 08-11-2017 (showing 12 of 18 have responded)

I’d be much obliged if those of you who haven’t completed it will do so. My department uses the information from the survey to make decisions about how the course is taught, so it is extremely useful information. Thank you.


#FridayFact: Grammar and Spell Checkers Are Often Wrong

#FridayFact: Grammar and Spell Checkers Are Often Wrong published on

unicorn-riding police officer autocorrectWe all rely on grammar and style checkers to help us find the small errors in our writing. Anyone who has had autocorrect go wrong, however, knows that grammar and spell checkers are not necessarily accurate. Sometimes (as in the case of the unicorn-riding police officer) these tools can change our messages to say things we never intended.

In the same way that you must double-check the changes that autocorrect suggests, you have to pay attention to the grammar and style tools that are available in your word processors. Read the article Microsoft Word’s Grammar and Style Tools Will Make Your Writing Worse for lots of examples of how Word can suggest changes that will confuse your readers.

Finally, as long as you are still at Virginia Tech, remember that you have free access to the course Grammar Foundations (below). You can look up any grammar questions you have there.


#InfographicInspiration: Pitch Your Idea in 60 Seconds

#InfographicInspiration: Pitch Your Idea in 60 Seconds published on

Today’s #InfographicInspiration focuses on the 60-second challenge to share information about yourself, your company, or your idea. Even though they may not take place in an elevator, elevator pitches are an important capability for anyone in the workplace.

You never know when you may have a few seconds to pitch an idea to someone, so review the tips in today’s infographic and practice your pitch to make sure that you are always ready.

The Perfect Elevator Pitch


#WednesdayWorkshop: Email Tips for the Workplace

#WednesdayWorkshop: Email Tips for the Workplace published on

In our last #WednesdayWorkshop, I am sharing some additional help for your workplace email messages.

First, I have a collection of 27 email templates, broken into the categories of networking, management, in the office, and the job search. Additionally, I found a list of templates for 8 Sticky Situations You’ll Come Across in Your Career. There is some overlap between the two pieces, but that just gives you more options.

As you use these great collections, keep these things in mind:

  • Read through all of the titles to find the best one for your situation. Some of the templates could apply to other categories.
  • Be careful with templates. Readers can frequently tell when you use a template, so use the tempates as a guide for what to write. Don’t just copy, paste, and send.
  • Make changes to the template you want to use by personalizing the message for your situation and reader.

As a bonus, I also have some tips on how to sign your email messages. You’re bound to find something useful in this list of 70 Different Email Sign-offs (for When You’re Sick of Saying "Best"). If you don’t have time to read through the whole list right now, the 60-second video below provides some quick, general options:


#TuesdayTutorial: Improving Your Resume

#TuesdayTutorial: Improving Your Resume published on

Application - pen2 by Flazingo Photos on Flickr, used under a CC-BY-SA licenseYou probably have a good resume that you have used to apply for internships, scholarships, and jobs. The important thing about resumes is that you must vigilantly keep them up to date. It’s ideal to have a current resume on hand and ready to send out when that dream job has an opening.

In addition to adding current accomplishments to your resume, be sure to keep your Skills section up to date. Why? The skills section is The Resume Section That Matters More Than You’d Think. It translates the things that you can do into the language of your field, making what you know how to do relevant for the positions you apply for. You may want to tweak the skills section for every job you apply for in order to echo information from the job posting and what you know about the company or organization.

So how do you write a great Skills section? You can begin with the Muse article The Resume Section That Matters More Than You’d Think, which outlines three steps to follow as you polish your resume. Next, watch How to Showcase the Skills an Employer Wants (3m11s) from the course Writing a Resume Layout, which addresses how to make your experience relevant to the workplace.

Screenshot of video on Resume Skills

Finally, you might check out the course Designing a Resume, which demonstrates how to use design features to create a resume that is modern, traditional, or artistic. Finally, if you’re a military veteran preparing to enter the civilian workforce, find tips in the video The resume and cover letter from the course Translating Your Military Skills to Civilian Workplace.


Photo Credit: Application – pen2 by Flazingo Photos on Flickr, used under a CC-BY-SA license.


Our Last Week Together

Our Last Week Together published on

This is the post for the week of August 7, 2017.

Cat Evaluates HumanThis week you will finish working on your Genre Analysis Report, and then you’ll turn the report in by 11:59PM on Tuesday, August 8, 2017. You will also work on your Final Exam, which is due by 11:59 PM on Monday, August 14, 2017. There is no grace period for the final.

Readings for This Week

Our remaining readings relate to your final exam:

Tasks for This Week

At this point, all your attention will be on finishing your work in the course. Share drafts with your group for feedback as you need to.

  1. By 11:59 PM on Tuesday, August 8, submit your Genre Analysis Report in Canvas. The grace period ends at 11:59 PM on Friday, August 11.
  2. By 11:59 PM on Friday, August 11, submit all outstanding revisions for your Major Projects. To ensure that I have time to grade everything before course grades are due, I will not accept revisions after August 11. If you have some incredible issue that causes you trouble meeting this deadline (for example, you were trampled when you participated in the running of the bulldogs), let me know immediately. I will be reasonable, but I have to be relatively firm about this date.
  3. Complete the SPOT survey. You should include completing the survey as evidence of work in your Final Exam. I cannot see your responses until after the course grades are submitted, so I will trust your statement in your final. Here’s the response rate as of 1 AM Sunday, August 6:
    SPOT Response Rate as of 08/06
  4. By 11:59 PM on Monday, August 14, review your Labor Log and submit your Final Exam in Canvas
    • The Final Exam Assignment is on the course website, with examples that are similar to the work you will do.
    • Remember that your exam must include a conclusion of the grade you should receive for the course.
    • Your grades are private and protected by FERPA; therefore, there is no peer review requirement for the final. You may share drafts if you want to, but that is your own individual decision.
    • There is no grace period for the exam.
  5. Celebrate, because there is no Labor Log due this week. As your final is a summary of your work in the course, adding a Labor Log on top of all the other work seems redundant.
  6. Check this site next week for info on your grades and leaving the course sites. I will post once everything is graded and course grades have been submitted.


#WeekendWatch: Good-News Messages

#WeekendWatch: Good-News Messages published on

Yesterday, I shared details on bad-news messages. Today’s #WeekendWatch looks at the opposite kind of correspondence: Writing An Effective Good-News Message (1m21s). Good-news messages are much easier to write. At worst, your reader may be neutral about the information that you are sharing. In many situations, your reader will be anything from pleased to overjoyed.

Even though they are easier, good-news messages do require a specific organization. Most importantly, you want to be sure that you don’t bury your good news. Put it right up front!

Watch this weekend’s video to learn about the organization of a good-news message, all in just a bit over one minute:


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