Friday, September 11, 2015

Teaching Writing: There's an App for That

My students love technology but rarely seem to understand how they can use it to help with their schoolwork.  Since I am teaching only writing classes this semester I've been focusing on finding a variety of apps and websites that can help my students improve their writing skills.  Here are 6 that I found.

The Hemmingway App helps point out areas that a student can strengthen.  I find it works best a paragraph at a time.  It can help them see if they're writing at a sufficient level for their grade as well as it gives a readability score.  To use the app students just go to the website and paste in their text.  Different concepts are highlighted in different colors.  The app tries to coach students on word choice, passive voice and more.  It does not edit their papers for them.  Great tool during the revision stage of writing.  (I am not sure if this is a phone app but it is readily available on laptop and desktop computers.)

The Merriam Webster Dictionary App can help students find different words or to define words they don't know.  I think it's really important that we start helping our students understand that their phones can be used for more than just Snapchat, texts, and KIK.

Focus Writer is great for students who are easily distracted by the internet etc when using the computer.  What it does is takes up the entire screen and blocks out everything else.  It is a very simple text editor that can then be copied and pasted into Word or Google Drive.  Now, if it could lock up their phones while they're typing it'd be perfect.

I Write Like is just a fun website that allows you to paste some of your text in a box to be analyzed.  The site will then tell you which famous author it is written like!

Video connects with google drive and allows students to take notes on their computer while they watch a youtube video simultaneously.  The notes are then saved to drive.  This is a great tool if you're requiring students to use a variety of sources for a research project.

Kaizena I've written about before and works with google drive to allow you, the teacher, to provide verbal feedback and more on your students' writing.  Students can also leave verbal comments, reply to your comments, and access lessons that you've programmed in through Kaizena.

Thanks for reading! 

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