Technical writing opens literacy learning opportunities in computer science
- Milwaukee-based instructional coach and reading specialist Peg Grafwallner writes for Edutopia that recognizing the importance of literacy in all subjects beyond just English and the humanities is critical — even in computer science.
- Working with her school's computer science teacher, Grafwallner developed a lesson focused on computational literacy and the importance of verbs in programming instructions.
- Students were asked to highlight "direction words" on sheets of programming instruction handouts, discuss their purpose while considering their thought processes, and take note of words they couldn't figure out based on context.
Essentially, the assignment described by Grafwallner is one centered on technical writing, as opposed to the creative or academic counterparts students usually encounter during their educations. The growing focus on literacy nationwide in recent years, especially under newer standards like the Common Core — as well as a growing need for more robust STEM education — has led to a greater awareness of opportunities to tie literacy learning into the sciences, where technical writing is much more prominent than other subjects.
Exposure to and practice in technical writing can also help students better understand a concept by explaining it to a peer, providing more than just another hard skill by helping to communicate ideas in a collaborative manner. In the long run, exposure to a wide variety of literature — whether creative, academic, business or technical — is a career-readiness necessity regardless of any potential field of interest.
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