End-of-the-School-Year Resource Roundup

Yes, indeed, the end of another school year has arrived, and I am already thinking ahead to the next academic year. In planning ahead, I’ve also reflected on the past year and realized I have gathered a LOT of online resources related to business communication. I’m guessing many of you are like me in that you never really leave the classroom and are always thinking about the next semester, class, or lesson.

The articles below appeared in the news feed generated by my Zite app, and I then saved them to Pocket. (Zite and Pocket, by the way, are probably my two favorite apps.) You can also find more resources by following me on Twitter (@pjglentz) or viewing my teaching board on Pinterest. If you have any “must have” resources you’d like to share with us, please do!

Corporate Culture

Design & Typography





Leadership & Teamwork


Presentations & Oral Communication



 Technology & Communication


Celebrate Grammar!

Did you know that Wednesday, March 4, is National Grammar Day? If you’re looking for a lighthearted way to talk about grammar in your classes, you may want to observe this exciting holiday. Mignon Fogarty (Grammar Girl) hosts the 2015 National Grammar Day celebration. You can learn more about the history of the day and find tips for celebrating by visiting her Quick and Dirty Tips: National Grammar Day site.

Here at UW-Eau Claire, we have t-shirts and buttons we wear in honor of the day, a College of Business Facebook grammar contest (with really cool prizes), cookies decorated with punctuation marks, and an open house in our Business Writing and Presentations Studio. It’s a fun way to reinforce the importance of good grammar, and it’s just a great day all around. In my classes, we will also enjoy chocolate and a few grammar cartoons.

Do you celebrate National Grammar Day? If so, what do you do?

A Quick Number Use Review & Worksheet

Finally…It’s summer…For many of us, it’s time to slow down, take stock, and perhaps think ahead to the courses we will teach in the fall. If you teach standards for using numbers and are looking for a quick review for your next course, here you go.

The standards for number use in the table below are summarized from Rentz, K., and Lentz, P. (2014). Lesikar’s Business Communication: Connecting in a Digital World, New York: McGraw-Hill. If you use the table in your course materials, we’d be grateful if you’d cite our book accordingly. We hope you find this Number Use Worksheet helpful as well. If you have any creative activities or methods for teaching number use, please share them with us.

Spell Out Use a Numeral
The Rule of Nine: Numbers nine and below (except as noted in the “Use a Numeral Column”): I ordered six boxes of pens. Numbers 10 and above: I ordered 12 boxes of pens.
A number at the beginning of a sentence: Twelve employees were promoted. Numbers in a series that refer to related items, where one of the items is ten or greater: Last week 12 employees were promoted, 8 retired, and 3 left the company.
A day of the month that appears alone or precedes the month and is nine or less: I can meet on the eighth. Days of the month when the month precedes the day or when the date precedes both the month and year: June 12, 2014, or 12 June 2014. (NOTE: You don’t need the “th” in these cases.)

A day of the month that appears alone or precedes the month and is ten or greater: I can meet on the 12th.

Amounts of money when the unit of currency is also spelled out: I spent twenty dollars on my dinner. Amounts of money when the unity of currency is represented by a symbol: I spent $20 on my dinner. (NOTE: When the dollar amount is a round number, you don’t need the “.00” after the amount.)
Indefinite numbers and amounts: About three thousand people live in this suburb; over a million people live in the entire metropolitan area. Percentages: Sales increased 3 percent last quarter.
Units of measure: (1) My new desk is 5 feet long and 3 feet wide. (2) The package I shipped weighed 3 pounds.
Fractions that stand alone: Nearly one-half of our employees participate in the wellness program. Mixed numbers: Our new office building is 5½ miles from our old building.
Legal documents use both the numeral and the word: The contract will expire in 60 (sixty) days.
Time can be expressed in either numerals or words as follows according to the rule of nine: 2:00, 2:30, 10 p.m., 10 o’clock, two o’clock. NOT: 2:00 o’clock

Some Summer Grammar Fun

It’s a little early to be thinking about fall courses, but I’m sure some of us are already making a few plans. If you’re looking for a way to integrate a little grammar and mechanics instruction into your courses, check out the links below. Some are old favorites, and some are new opportunities for a little grammar fun.

I’ve used these sites in a variety of ways. For example, when students are drafting in class and finish before their peers, many will find their way to Facebook.  I’ve told students they can be on Facebook during this time as long as they are on the Daily Writing Quiz wall. Usually, students are on Facebook just to pass a little time, not because they have a pressing need to be there, so as long as they have a way to occupy their five free minutes and as long I know they are practicing their grammar and writing skills, we’re all happy.

Do you have favorite sites you’d like to share? Please tell us about them and about how you use them with your students.

General Business Writing Help

  1. 50 Free Resources That Will Improve Your Writing Skills
  2. Business Writer’s Free Library
  3. Daily Writing Tips

Online Quizzes

Grammar Podcasts

Business Writing Blogs

Creating a Business Communication Industry Advisory Board

In our College of Business, all of the functional areas (e.g., accounting and finance, management, international business, health care administration, marketing, information systems) have business advisory boards. This year, our Business Communication Department joined the fun and formed its board as well.

Unlike the boards in the other functional areas, where the members are from that professional field, the BCOM board comprises members from the fields of health care, information systems, communications, banking, accounting, finance, government, marketing, management, entrepreneurship, and K-12 education.

Our Goals

Our goal in having the board is to help us better connect what we do in the classroom to the needs of employers. Our hope is that by meeting twice per year (early fall, late spring) we can be a resource for professionals who may need projects completed that our students can do and learn from and that professionals can be a resource for us as we develop our curriculum.

Of course, another goal is to enhance the BCOM Department’s visibility in our College, university, and community and assert ourselves as a business discipline.

The Board’s Input

As you might imagine, putting a group of professionals in a room and asking them to talk about entry-level employees’ communication skills yielded a lot of interesting information:

  • Tuning in: Several commented on how interns and entry-level employees tend to come to work, insert the ear buds, tune in to their music, and tune out the rest of the world. While the music may help them focus, employees miss the conversations around them that help them learn the culture, develop socialization skills to fit with the culture, and gather useful information from those informal workplace conversations.
  • Communicating data: Another common remark was that many interns are weak in their ability to communicate quantitative and qualitative data meaningfully.
  • Analyzing an audience and corporate culture: Board members talked a lot about how interns and entry-level employees would communicate better if they were to invest the time analyzing audience and culture.
  • Having a command of the English language: Grammar, mechanics, and punctuation were also mentioned as areas students need improvement on—both written and oral.

Our three-hour discussion covered many more topics, but you can see the value in the professional community’s input as we teach our students and promote our value to the university community

In forming our board, we determined the fields we wanted to be represented on the board. Once we did that, it was a matter of making phone calls and organizing the meeting. If you have questions on how we formed our board, let me know. It’s been a fun and exciting venture, and we’re already looking forward to setting the agenda for our fall meeting.

Happy National Punctuation Day!

Yes, it’s that time of year again. It’s National Punctuation Day. My classes and I are celebrating with chocolate and punctuation pattern sheets, but if you’re looking for something a little more exciting, check out the National Punctuation Day Web site. You’ll find teaching resources, punctuation guides, tips for celebrating National Punctuation Day, and much more.

You’ll even find a recipe for National Punctuation Day meatloaf. As someone who teaches punctuation as a rhetorical endeavor, I find it odd that they shape the meatloaf in the form of a question mark. It sort of implies “middle school cafeteria mystery meat,” but it’s still cute.

Are you celebrating? If so, tell us about it.

There’s a lot of punctuating to do today. Enjoy!

A Classroom Case: “This Embarasses You and I”

Some of you may have seen the recent article “This Embarrasses You and I” by Sue Shellenbarger. Shellenbarger discusses the impact of informal communication (e.g., through email, Twitter, and texting) on the use of standard grammar in the workplace. She cites one survey in which 45% of 430 employers say they provide some kind of remedial writing training to employees. Other employers hold competitions to try to improve employees’ grammar, while some require spelling and grammar tests as terms of hire.

Also included with the article are a short video interview with Shellenbarger (“Managers Fight Grammar Gaffes at Work”) and an interactive, 21-question grammar quiz.

The article and video present a classroom opportunity to discuss the importance of good grammar to one’s professional image and the need to tailor one’s language to the audience and occasion, while the interactive quiz might challenge some students’ perceptions of their grammar skills.

However, if you’re looking for something more extensive, the Wall Street Journal’s Weekly Review: Accounting” provides a more in-depth case based on Shellenbarger’s article. Discussion questions range from the introductory to the advanced. These questions are accompanied by a small-group assignment requiring students to take the interactive quiz, work with group members to determine the reasons for their errors, and analyze which errors are most common among group members.

If you have other suggestions for using this article in the classroom, please share them with us.

Many thanks to Meg, my colleague, for passing this information along so that I could share it with you.