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Illinois Alumni Association Regional Blog

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Hallmark Season Is Here

It is finally Hallmarks season everyone! Now is the perfect time to get together with the chapter and reflect on all your hard work, dedication, and teamwork. Your achievements deserve to be recognized at both the regional and international level. With finals drawing to a close, it’s time to take all your chapter’s planning, events, projects, research, collaborations and so forth and write an award-winning write ups.

Here are some tips for writing outstanding Hallmark entries.

Get Organized

If you haven’t started thinking about Hallmarks yet, you need to do so now. Big thing to keep in mind about the hallmark awards is that they are all due at DIFFERENT times. Be sure to double check the dates on the PTK website. Create a timeline to have certain things done. Make sure everyone has access to the timeline and is on the same page. It’s super important that everyone understands not only when to do things, but why as well.

Create a Communication Plan

Communication is going to be key during this process. It is vital to determine early on how your team will communicate before and during the process in addition to how the team will work on the write-ups. It is best if the document(s) are shared amongst the writers working on them so everyone can have access to them. That way you could work on the documents on your own time rather than trying to schedule in person. Platforms you could use include Google Docs, DropBox, Blackboard, and Zoom meetings. Meeting and working on the write-ups virtually are great because you don’t have to deal with the difficulty of working around everyone's schedule to meet in person. Work can get done faster and more efficiently for everyone.

Brainstorm

Brainstorming happens before the writing process can begin. Sit down with your chapter, start a word doc, take out the rubrics, go through each category and discuss/write down what you did for each one. It helps tremendously and gives you a headstart on what to highlight in the write up. This way nothing is forgotten.

Study the Rubric

Study the rubric before, during, and after the write-up process and even during the project. If you study the rubric before starting the project, it gives you the perfect idea of what needs to be included and happen, in order to meet all the requirements. It is very important to strive towards reaching the full amount of points for each write-up, since the top scores determine who receives international awards.

Designate Roles

During the process, there have to be different roles assigned to the write up committee. Find the strongest writers in the group to do the writing. Then find the members with the strongest editing skills to be the editors. There need to be two different types of editors: grammar and rubrics. The grammar editors will review the write-ups based on grammatical content. The rubric editors will analyze the document with a rubric in hand to make sure that each category has enough substantial content to receive maximum points for that category.

Utilize Headquarters’ Resources

There are so many resources chapters can use to help brainstorm, write, and polish award- winning Hallmark entries that are found on the PTK website. Their blogs constantly give great advice on writing and the best practices for Hallmark write-ups. Webinars also cover Hallmarks and are usually available on the website after they were presented. There are also completed HIA and College Project award entries for viewing, strategies to plan, organize, and execute write ups, and judges feedback on what they need to see from the rubric.

All of these resources were written or organized by headquarters, so you have a grasp on what exactly they are looking for in the write-ups.

Writing Tips

Keep your writing clean, clear and concise. Don't use fluff and fillers that detracts from the content of your chapter's accomplishments just because you have a certain number of words allotted for the application responses. Do not waste precious word count to restate questions in answers. Use the rule “show, don’t tell” when writing your entries. Here’s an example.

Tell: Izzie is our hardest worker and the greatest asset.

Show: Izzie effectively led our Honors in Action team this year by recruiting five members to serve on our research team, by inviting the college’s research librarian to conduct a workshop for the team on academic research, and by setting up a DropBox folder and sharing it with all chapter members so they could follow our progress throughout the year.

Good luck with write-ups! We can’t wait to see Illinois on stage at Catalyst in April!
Malinda Mullet, Central District Rep



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