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6 Online Digital Tools to Help Your Students with Writing

6 Online Digital Tools to Help Your Students with Writing

In this age of technology, it’s normal for parents and educators to worry that young people’s literacy could be affected. Now that we can send voice messages, use video chat and voice searching, the fear is that young people could lose the ability to write what they think and feel because it no longer seems necessary. As teachers, we have a responsibility to prepare students for post-secondary education and for their careers.  This means learning to write in different styles and through different mediums. Handwriting aside, here are the top 6 digital tools that students can use to improve their written communication skills. 

Kaizena

Kaizena is a great tool that you can use in conjunction with Google Docs. Kaizena gives students specialized and tailored feedback. It can be hard for teachers to come across as encouraging or supportive in short notes and comments on schoolwork, which can lead to students feeling frustrated or confused. This may cause students to lose confidence in their writing abilities and they might turn to essay writing help online instead of improving themselves. 

Margaret Weir, a tutor at Draft Beyond and Research Papers UK, explains to teachers that “by using Kaizena, you (the teacher) can record feedback in a voice note, which can portray in your tone of voice your feedback in an encouraging way. Instead of short, discouraging notes in the margin criticizing their writing, students will get supportive and helpful feedback.” 

No Red Ink

This is another online tool that focuses on making your feedback positive and meaningful instead of discouraging. Instead of the typical red ink notes highlighting all the student’s mistakes, No Red Ink allows students to get practice, follow their progress, and look at their strengths and weakness on their own so that they can become more responsible for their work and improvement. No Red Ink empowers students.

NoRedInk

In the app, you can base your curriculum on your students’ interests and personalize content for each student, so they can focus their writing on topics that interest them. This is a welcome change from the uninspiring topics that are usually found in the school curriculum. The app allows students to edit their text by moving paragraphs around, drag and drop sentences, and modify their outlines as they wish. 

Hemingway

This app is an online editor that helps students identify all types of mistakes, but also explains how to make their writing more readable. The app will color-code complex sentences and phrases that have a more clear alternative, and it will show students when they are using a passive voice or too many adverbs. This allows students to see their errors and understand their stylistic mistakes. It’s a fun and easy tool that you can get as a desktop app or use in the browser. 

American Wordspeller 

American Wordspeller helps you find the spelling of a word by the way it sounds, which makes students’ lives a lot easier. It’s hard to look up a word in a dictionary or Google it if you don’t know how to spell it. As Matthew Hayward, an educator at Writinity and Last Minute Writing explains to his readers, “If you start spelling a word phonetically in American Wordspeller, all suggestions will come up, even if it’s not near the same spelling. This is a great addition for students that are not confident in their writing or spelling skills, and it’s especially helpful for those students suffering from dyslexia.”

Cliche Finder

One of the big problems these days is that students read so much content that is full of cliches. So students assume that using cliches is a mature way to write so they’ll use them in their work instead of using their own vernacular. It’s a good intention, but then the cliches come off as poor writing. Cliche Finder is a great app that helps them notice these bad phrases and find their own unique voice. Once you put your text in the browser window, the app will check your writing against the complete list of cliches provided by the Associated Press Guide to News Writing. 

Whooo’s Reading

Writers know that to write good content, they need to make revisions. Young writers, unfortunately, tend to skip the rewriting process which can be a source of frustration for teachers. Moreover, teachers do not have the time to provide all the feedback they need to in order to help their students become better writers. 

Whooo’s Reading has a research-backed algorithm that analyzes students’ written responses to short-response questions and gives students immediate feedback on their writing. The feedback is delivered by an animated owl and is customized to what the student just wrote and coaches students on how to rewrite their answer so that it is more compelling and readable. Feedback ranges from grammar edits, to stylistic comments, and to reminders telling students to support their opinions with evidence. The feedback is customized to each students’ grade level too.

Ashley Halsey, a professional writer with Lucky Assignments and Gum Essays, is involved in many writing projects in the country. She enjoys working with parents and educators at improving the quality of learning that children are exposed to and modernizing the curriculum in schools. 

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