Technical Writing Fundamentals, Part 1 of 4 (Constructing a Balsa Wood Glider)


There are few things that can frustrate a consumer more than poorly worded or difficult to follow instructions. Lesson 1 in this series of 4 begins by laying the foundation for the importance of following directions and the importance of clearly written instructions. This series of four lessons teaches students the fundamentals of clear, understandable technical writing leading to the construction of a balsa wood glider.

Introduction to Technical Writing

Most consumers have had the misfortune of struggling through poorly constructed or inferior instructions. 

Lesson one in this series of four lays the foundation for students to examine instructions and technical writing through a critical lens. Then, through a series of scaffolded lessons the teacher provides instruction for writing a set of instructions which result in the assembly and flight of a balsa wood glider. Along the way, teachers use a series of formative assessments to check for understanding and provide feedback and evaluation of student work. 

The final product, a flight-worthy balsa wood glider and an accompanying digital flipbook instructional guide provide students with a clear understanding of the goal of this project. The summative assessment for both the written instructions and performance of the glider concludes the assignment.  (Note: Materials are required.)

Lesson Times

52 minute class period
1 Class Period

Industries / Subjects / Grades

Industries / Pathways
  • Engineering & Architecture Engineering & Architecture
    • Engineering Design
    • Engineering Technology
  • Manufacturing and Product Development Manufacturing and Product Development
  • Information and Communication Technologies Information and Communication Technologies
    • Information Support and Services
  • Business and Finance Business and Finance
    • Business Management
K-12 Subjects
  • English-Language Arts
  • Technology Education
Grade Levels
  • 9
  • 10
  • 11
  • 12

Standards and Objectives


California English Common Core Standards (1)
California's 2013 CTE Standards (2)

Related Instructional Objectives (SWBAT...)

  • Understand the importance of clear writing and the defining of terms when writing or giving instructions.
  • Begin construction of instructions by defining terms.

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