Feature writing guidelines
Instructifeatures are article-length pieces that focus on how technology can make teaching more effective – not just shinier. The focus of these articles is on instructional best practices as much as it is about the hottest technology. Instructifeatures are published both on the Instructify blog and on the LEARN NC website.
We welcome innovative articles, by which we mean articles on strategies or practices that are not in common use.
What we want
There are an infinite number of places on the web to find a basic how-to about using video-editing software. There are far fewer places to find a thoughtful discussion about how to use video-editing software to improve your teaching practice or to further your students’ understanding of a particular topic.
- The focus of each article should be on teaching first and technology second. We know the technology’s cool, but how does it make our classrooms better places to learn? A teacher should come away with your article with concrete ideas about how to improve her practice based on what she’s read.
- Your article should provide some evidence that a particular strategy is successful. This doesn’t have to be formal research; it can be anecdotal. But you should answer the question “How do I know this works?”
- Unless you’re writing about a one-of-a-kind tool like VoiceThread, please discuss a few different versions of a particular technology. For example, if you’re writing about blogs, compare a few different blogging platforms – don’t just discuss the one you’re most familiar with.
- The scope of an Instructifeature can be fairly narrow – e.g. How to use VoiceThread to facilitate class discussions on controversial topics. This type of article effectively combines good teaching practice with technology.
- While articles can be narrow in scope, they should still be broadly applicable. If your article applies only to high-school calculus teachers whose students all use handheld devices, it may be a little too narrow.
- If you’re uncertain about how to balance a narrow scope with broad applicability for a particular topic, ask the editors.
Style and formatting
- Articles should be written in a clear, informal style — not academic, but not chatty, either. Most Instructifeatures are written in the first person, but that’s not a hard-and-fast rule.
- Remember that you are teaching through your article, not just sharing experiences. Your goal is to help other teachers do what you do. Explain both what you do and why you do it in as much detail as you can. Don’t worry about saying too much — we can always edit it down later.
- Length: Articles should generally be between 1,500 and 2,500 words. Be concise, but take the time you need to cover your topic.
- Please submit all outlines and drafts in Word doc format or in a Google doc.
- Please do not embed links in your document; this makes the editing process longer and more labor-intensive. Instead, include a link parenthetically after the anchor text.
Proposal process and workflow
Because we’re working with a number of writers, having an established proposal process and workflow helps to keep things streamlined. It also helps to ensure that you don’t put a lot of time into an article only to find that we can’t use it. The process is as follows:
- In one or a few sentences, pitch an idea to Bill. He’ll respond as soon as possible, letting you know whether to move ahead with the proposal process.
- Once Bill has approved your idea, craft your proposal. The proposal should consist of an opening paragraph followed by an outline of the rest of the article. Please note: Your outline does not need to follow the standard Roman-numeral-followed-by-capital-letter format, but it does need to clearly convey the points you will cover in your piece in a way that makes sense to a reader. If the outline is vague or consists only of one- or two-word memory joggers, the editors will request a more detailed version.
- The editors will review your outline and will reject it, approve it, or ask you to make some adjustments to your approach.
- Use your outline and any suggestions from the editors to compose your draft – ideally within seven days of receiving the go-ahead. Send it to Bill via email.
- If the editors request additional revisions, please send your revised draft within seven days.
We pay $200 for feature articles upon publication.