The question that I explored: Are there tech programs that are currently being integrated into high school English classrooms to improve the writing skills (conventions, grammar, punctuation, etc.) of students?
Though the connection between my Triggering Event Question and ISTE Standard 1 may seem obscure, I believe there is a certain level of creativity and innovation required to improving foundational writing skills. One of the greatest challenges of teaching is to reach each individual, despite the wide range of skill levels. As Bates states, “The wide diversity of the student body is a major challenge for institutions. This requires more focus on teaching methods that provide support for learners, more individualization of learning, and more flexible delivery” (Bates, n.d.). At my internship placement, I have found that many students lack the foundational writing skills to complete some of the higher-level expression required in class. Some of these students are ELL students and others just never grasped some of the foundational understandings of grammar, punctuation, and conventions. We have conducted mini-lessons covering these topics, but these issues continue to be present through writing samples. Some students have approached me and asked if there are additional resources that can be accessed for practice. Other students are understandably less self-motivated and do not seek the extra help, but need it. I asked this Trigger Event Question because class time is limited and it is important for students to gain a further understanding of writing basics in order to express their creativity in their writing.
In order to answer this question, I explored various websites that I could refer students to for additional practice. I found two websites that I felt could work together to create a more comprehensive understanding. Through my investigation, I found one program and one website that I believe students could utilize. The first is dailywritingtips.com. This website breaks down subjects and categories to an extent that students could focus their efforts on specific areas they lack confidence. For example, comma splices, colons, semicolons, passive voice, and much more. These pages provide thorough explanations and examples that students could find beneficial. Also, the website provides quizzes for students to practice these skills. Unfortunately, the quizzes are limited and only cover broad topics, such as vocabulary, grammar, commas, and vocabulary. This website will not exclusively solve many of these issues, but it is a solid foundational resource.
Second, I found grammarly.com. I downloaded the free program and explored its capabilities. The program allows students to compose or copy and paste their writing. Grammarly has an advanced editing algorithm that finds errors beyond Microsoft Word. I demoed the program and it identified many of the common errors I notice in students’ writing. For example, Grammarly identifies missing a comma after an introductory phrase and double negatives. Not only does Grammarly highlight these issues, but it provides an explanation for students to gain an understanding of the reasoning behind the edit. I do not believe that Grammarly is the solution to combat these issues, but it brings these common problems to the attention of students and makes them examine their writing with more purpose and depth. There will never be a substitute for face-to-face instruction and I do not believe these resources are exclusively the solution. On the other hand, these two resources could complement one another as a starting point for students to build a better understanding and sharpen essential skills.
In addition, fellow students provided additional links including quickandirtytips.com and Purdue’s Online Writing Lab (OWL). I am familiar with both of these websites and it is beneficial to have as many tools as possible. One link I was not aware of before this investigation was noredink.com. After looking through the website, I think it a great source as well. It is free for students and designed for teachers. I like these links because they do not only provide explanations, but have quizzes, which students can take to sharpen their skills.
I feel that I have successfully answered my Triggering Event Question. I have identified a variety of available resources that I would feel confident referring students to. This exploration has been effective in equipping me with these different tools. It supports the emphasis and transition towards more technological inclusion in education.
Bates, A. W. (n.d.). Fundamental change in education. In Teaching in a digital age (1). Retrieved from http://opentextbc.ca/teachinginadigitalage/part/chapter-1-fundamental-change-in-education/