Classroom Exercises

Using the Apostrophe Correctly
A quick change-of-pace activity to help students gain better control over apostrophe use. Read more.

Fixing Five Grammar Mistakes Employers Hate
Commonly made errors in written communication irk employers. Help students rid their prose of these fixable errors. Read more.

Improving Interpersonal and E-Mail Skills
Students need to improve their interpersonal skills and e-mail management. Our exercise with a sample solution can help. Read more.

Early Semester Assignment to Build Student Engagement
Now is the time to foster student buy-in to your class. Use our prompt and sample assignment. Read more.

Grade Justification Assignment
Ask your students to write a final assessment that justifies what grade they expect. Read more.

Replacing Jargon with Plain English
A fun change-of-pace exercise to help students find replacements to clichés and jargon. Read more.

The Résumé Summary: Showcasing Your Unique Assets
This ready-to-go task asks students to write a concise summary for a specific position of their choice. Read more.

Demon Pairs: Choosing the Right Word
Making mistakes when using homonyms can be embarrassing. This exercise will jog students’ memories so they choose the correct word. Read more.

Verifying Verb Agreement Part 2
Subject-verb agreement can be confounding. In this second exercise (see November’s Classroom Exercise post) we offer up more exercises for students to hone their skills. Read more.

Verifying Subject-Verb Agreement: Three Basics to Remember
Sometimes matching the subject with correct verb can be tricky. Give students a change-of-pace exercise that tests their ability to make the right verb choice. Read more.

When to Capitalize
A quick mechanics lesson to provide a recap of capitalization rules. Read more.

Improving Vocabulary Precision: Replacing Get
Use this ready-to-go worksheet to help students stretch their vocabularies to avoid overuse of “get.” Read more.

First Day Group Exercise: How to Succeed in BizCom Class (and Workplace!)
Use our prepared questions to prompt students’ buy-in to your business communication curriculum. Read more.

Creating an Elevator Pitch
After you discuss the elevator pitch with students, have them use our template to create their own. Read more.

Researching a Company
A change-of-pace exercise provides a worksheet detailing what and how job seekers can learn more about an organization. Read more.

LinkedIn Profile and About Worksheet
Students can use this explanatory worksheet to gather their own information and populate their LinkedIn Profile and About (formerly called Summary) personal brand narrative. Read more.

Catching 5 Common Grammar Mistakes
Employers complain about employees’ poor grammar skills. Help your students brush up with this downloadable change-of-pace lesson. Read more.

Handling Hyphens
This quick exercise can help students understand when and how to properly use hyphens. Read more.

Rhetorical Analysis: Nike VP E-Mails Employees
This real-world e-mail from a Nike executive offers students an inside peek at how written communication works at a global powerhouse. Students can decode this informational message using our guided meta-analysis questions. Read more.

Accurate Apostrophe Use
Proper use of the apostrophe can be tricky. Our ready-to-use exercise will bolster students’ understanding of this grammar rule. Read more.

Polishing Parallelism
Help your students learn this important writing structure with our easy-to-understand explanation and sample sentences for practice. Read more.

Goal Setting for the Business Communication Class
Start the new academic year with this handy lesson that takes your students through the steps to set goals for themselves in your bizcom course. Read more.

To Quote or Not to Quote
In business, quotation marks are sometimes used haphazardly. Help students learn when and why to use them. Read more.

Free Buried Verbs for Concise Prose
Help students tighten their prose by learning to recognize and eliminate wordy constructions. Read more.

How to Approach a Networking Prospect
In this exercise, students analyze a careless note sent to a potential LinkedIn contact before they write a cold-contact message of their own. Read more.

It’s or Its: Which Is a Pronoun?
Help students distinguish between it’s and its, a pesky error. This quick exercise can eliminate or at least minimize mistakes from your students’ work. Read more.

Fixing Dangling and Misplaced Modifiers
Dangling and misplaced modifiers reflect poorly on the writer. This exercise will help students learn to avoid this writing error. Read more.

Learning to Distinguish Between Who, That, or Which
Students’ work demonstrates their inability to choose the right relative pronoun. This exercise can help. Read more.

Revising for Conciseness
Help students learn to tighten prose with this classroom ready exercise. Read more.

Avoiding Gender Bias in Writing
Use this ready-to-go writing exercise to help students learn how to omit gender bias in their writing. Read more.

First Writing Assignment (Diagnostic)
Use this first day diagnostic writing prompt to get your students thinking about your course and to see how they think and write. Read more.

Which Is It–i.e. or e.g.?
Help students decipher the difference between these two abbreviations. Read more.

Requesting a Letter of Recommendation
Help students learn how to write to a professor for a letter of recommendation with this useful exercise. Read more.

Using Action Words in Résumés
This ready-to-go lesson on beefing up résumé experience statements will help your students write résumés that will be read. Read more.

Writing Concise Tweets
This classroom-ready exercise is a great way to help students learn to say a lot in a few words. Read more.

Eliminating Sentence Structure Errors
This classroom-ready grammar lesson shows students how to avoid three of the most common sentence structure errors. Read more.

To Lie or to Lay: That is the Question
Help students learn when to understand when use lie or lay with this ready-to-use activity. Read more.

Misuse of Myself
The personal pronoun myself is often used incorrectly, making the speaker sound uninformed. This helpful classroom exercise can help students learn when to use—and not use—myself. Read more.

Keeping It Simple
Help students learn to de-inflate unnecessarily wordy and complex sentences. This ready-to-use classroom exercise includes a key so students can check their own work. Read more.

Productive Classroom Behavior Exercise
There’s no time like the beginning of an academic year to set standards for good classroom etiquette. Read more.

Talk the Talk: Preparing a Skills Worksheet
Help your students identify their hard and soft skills so they are ready for a job search or interview. Read more.

Embarrassing Usage Mistakes (And How to Fix Them)
Even the smartest people sometimes make bloopers. This change-of-pace exercise can help your students avoid some of the most common. Read more.

Preparing to Write the 21st-Century Résumé
This activity will help students gather the information to write both a traditional résumé and a technologically enhanced, 21st-century version. Read more.

Making the Right Match: Pronoun-Antecedent Agreement Exercise
Gender-agnostic writing is making pronoun-antecedent agreement even trickier. Help your students refine their prose with this useful assignment. Read more.

Number Style: Word or Figure?
Students are often confused about when to use words or figures for numbers. This activity will help clarify the standards. Read more.

Using Transitions for Paragraph Cohesion
Help students understand how to create prose that flows. Download this exercise and a key for a ready-made lesson. Read more.

Avoiding Misuse of You
Here’s a quick lesson to show students how to revise their incorrect use of the impersonal youRead more.

Use Oxford Comma for Clarity
We think the Oxford comma is a must. This ready-to-go exercise is a great way to help your students understand why… and to break up a day’s schedule. Read more.

Six Verbs to Avoid at Work
What you say and how you say it matters in the workplace. This quick exercise can help your students learn to use verbs that make them sound confident. Read more.

Conversational but Professional: Hitting the Right Note
Help your students learn to hit the right note between being too casual or too formal in their business messages. Read more.

Succinct Summaries
Good summaries produce a thoughtful, abbreviated version of an original. Help your students learn to write streamlined summaries. Read more.

Parsing Paraphrasing
Teaching paraphrasing is important if we want our students to cite correctly and write with integrity. This helpful assignment can be done individually or in groups. Read more.

Classroom Exercise: Edit to Enhance Professionalism
Have your students edit this rude, wordy e-mail. We provide the two activities for you to choose from, suggested solutions, and a proofreading marks handout. Read more.

Bonus Case Study: Pesky Clutch Problems Plague Harley-Davidson
This bad-news scenario uses the direct organizational strategy. Discuss the writing strategy or have your students write their own response to this bonus case study! Read more.

Sound Smarter—Grammar Guru’s Greatest Guidelines
The Grammar Girl—aka Mignon Fogarty—offers handy tips for avoiding five common grammar gaffes. Download the exercise and answer key for this change-of-pace lesson. Read more.

Slanguage: Not for Use at Work
Help your students realize when they’re using slang instead of standard English with this fun, ready-to-use exercise. Read more.

Evaluating Teaching on Your Terms: Course Experience Assignment
When students weigh in on their course experience rather than merely rating a course and instructor, responses provide valuable feedback. Read more.

Blowing Away Puffed‐up Résumés
Today’s competitive workplace may cause students to consider exaggerating or even lying on their résumés. Help them understand the repercussions of doing so. Read more.

Captivating Cover Letters: A Great “In”
A well-written cover letter can give a job candidate a leg up. Have your students identify the elements that make this original cover letter effective. We include a marked up version for you, too. Read more.

Case Study in Crisis Communication—The Santa Barbara Oil Spill
Following an oil spill in in Santa Barbara, California, Plains All American Pipeline was indicted on criminal charges. The apology letter sent to Santa Barbara residents offers a rich opportunity for analysis in the business communication classroom. Read more.

Writing Tweets: Farm to Table Event Needs Social Media Marketing
One of the latest dining trends is the farm-to-table experience. Have your students create tweets to publicize a pop-up picnic. Read more.

Curing Two Comma Conundrums
Help students learn how to fix two common punctuation errors .Read more.

Which One Is It? Me, Myself, and I
The misuse of me, myself, and I is generally caused by not understanding when to use the pronoun me. Help your students with this confusing conundrum. Read more.

Three First-Day Writing Assessment Exercises
Choose from three downloadable exercises that offer different first-day writing assessment activities. Customize them to your own specifications or use them as is! Read more.

Combine and Refine: Sentence Variety Exercise
Instructors: This helpful, classroom-ready writing technique exercise will help your students learn to compose smoother and more sophisticated prose. We’ve included the exercise and answer key at the end of the post for you! Read more.

The Career Bio—Just as Necessary as a Résumé
A career bio differs from a résumé, but many say having both are key to today’s successful job search. Discuss the career bio with your class. Then have them perform an analysis of an actual career bio created for LinkedIn. Read more.

Speaker Freakers and Stinky Food? Test Your Office Etiquette IQ
New communication platforms and casual workplace environments have blurred the lines of appropriateness…Read more.

Using Dashes Correctly
English uses three different dashes–when to use each? This classroom exercise will help your students know. Read more.

Use Bullets for Surefire Reader Comprehension
Instructors: Download this writing technique exercise that helps students understand how to compose correct bulleted lists. Read more.

Passive or Active? How to Choose the Correct Writing Voice
Instructors: Use this exercise on passive voice as a short and simple change-of-pace task. Let your students work in teams to discuss the mini-quiz questions that follow the explanation. Read more.

Case Study: Bakery Owners Get Burned on Social Media
Businesses large and small are turning to social media to expand their customer bases and to garner attention. However, not all attention is good attention. Read more.

Eliminating Fragments, Run-ons, and Comma Splices
Instructors: Businesses gripe that new grads have poor grammar. Help your students learn to eliminate three easily fixed sentence structure errors. Download the exercise and answer key below or cut and paste directly from this post. Read more.

Bad-News Assignment
This assignment will allow students to put the indirect vs. direct strategy to delivering bad news to the test. Read more.

We Won’t Pay! Evaluating The Corinthian Fifteen’s Emotional Appeal
After a series of lawsuits brought by the Department of Education, the for-profit college, Corinthian, recently went under. Fifteen Corinthian students wrote an impassioned refusal to to pay their students loans to the DOE. Your students will be interested to discuss this timely and relevant topic. Read more.

Résumé Experience Statement Exercise
Help your students work on writing concise, effective résumé statements with this ready-to-use classroom exercise. Read more.

Writing an Elegant Resignation Letter
Crafting a letter of resignation can be tricky. Use this example of a beautifully written resignation sent by the director of Harvard’s Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics, and Public Policy for a terrific teachable moment. Read more.

It’s the Principal (or is that Principle?)
Employers complain about employees who can’t spell or who confuse common words. Help your students be better prepared for workplace expectations with this 15-sentence Confusing Words Exercise. Read more.

Home Depot Delivers—But It’s Bad News
After a recent security breach, Home Depot sent this bad news letter to its customers. How did the “world’s largest home improvement retailer” do? Have your students evaluate the letter’s effectiveness using the critical thinking questions we’ve put together for you. Read more.

Petulant Poster Outed by Convoluted Writing Style
This quick change-of-pace exercise would make a good introduction to a lesson on eliminating bloated language. We’ve included rewrites, but feel free to let your students come up with their own! Read more.

Words/Expressions to Avoid Worksheet
Looking for a change-of-pace exercise? Try this worksheet with your students! Discuss the wordy expressions with your class; then let them apply what they’ve learned by editing the practice sentences. We’ve included a key for you, too! Read more.

Purrrrrfect Case Studies: Cat Cafés and Entrepreneurialism
Pets are big business, and trendy cat cafés will make a great discussion or exercise for your students. Choose from a short assignment or a longer one. Read more.

Is it Ethical to Buy Followers?
This real-life case speaks directly to students and is a great way to get them thinking about ethical behavior early in the semester. Read more.

End-of-Semester Assignment: Formal Letter to Professor
At the end of my business communication course, I like my students to reflect on what they’ve learned and then demonstrate those accomplishments in a final assignment. Because they have not written a formal business letter, I use this genre … Read more

Case Study: Raise the Minimum Wage? Employee Says Yea
As one of more than twenty minimum-wage employees at Carly’s Catering in Omaha, Nebraska, you are closely following the national debate about raising the minimum wage. Read more.

Case Study:  Tweet, Tweet for Relay for Life
Relay for Life, a fundraiser developed by the American Cancer Society, is an overnight event in which teams of people camp out around a track field or path. Read more.

Case Study: Using IM to Build Customer Relationships
The following log is a transcript of a live IM chat between a Skyline Mobile customer service representative and a customer inquiring about an unexpected added fee. Read more.

BONUS CASE STUDY – Bad News for Bakery: Rising Costs Eat into Profits
As the owner of La Boulangerie Bakery in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, you have a devoted clientele savoring your delicacies. Your salty caramel cupcakes offer an irresistible salty-sweet flavor combination… Read more.

Bonus Case Study – Poor Claim Letter
The following claim letter suffers from many writing faults. List at least five weaknesses. Then revise the message to remedy its faults and make it more likely to achieve its purpose. Read more.

Bonus Case Study – Persuasive E-Mail: Miserable Meetings
The following e-mail message suffers from many writing faults, including poor tone and poor persuasive strategy. It originated with a manager and is addressed to his boss. Read more.

Bonus Case Study – Confusing Office Move Message
The following message, which originated in an international technology company, was intended to inform new team members about their upcoming move… Read more.

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