This post was originally one lamenting the lack of good online student essay-writing tools, but I’ve turned it into a “Best” list – even though I don’t think there are any that fit the bill for me.
I’ve got a ton of tools on The Best Places Where Students Can Write Online. Many let you create picture books, create multimedia projects, and write a blog.
But hardly any provide any scaffolded support for a student to actually write a “standard” essay.
John Spencer’s Write About site, which I’ve previously written about in “Write About” May Be The Education Site Of The Year offers some of that.
A site I learned about today called Write Well has some potential, though its scaffolded instructions are pretty meager and there are no models (they have, however, since made some improvements).
What are tools that you use that I don’t know about?
Here’s a Twitter exchange with a good caution and that also shares what I think would be helpful:
@greg_ashman 1 that used graphic organizers,like ones many of us use in class,that could be moved around, w/accessible models could b useful
— Larry Ferlazzo (@Larryferlazzo) June 29, 2015
Write Lab looks like a very interesting, and unique, online writing tool that seems to be free. Once students upload their essay, its software provides a lot of critical feedback. In my experiment, the feedback seemed pretty accurate. The problem was there was way too much of it, and that will be a problem for students — to be able separate the really important stuff from the little stuff. I learned about it from Class Tech Tips, which looks like a pretty helpful blog.
FoxType has a text editor that seems to provide decent feedback on writing that’s submitted to it.
TEN APPS TO HELP STUDENTS DEVELOP WRITING SKILLS is from The Edvocate.
Three free essay-writing tools from ClassTools.net is from Russel Tarr.
Virtual Writing Tutor is an online “checker” of essays that could come in handy to ELLs.
Word’s new AI editor will improve your writing is from TechCrunch.
Smart Compose is coming to Google Docs is from TechCrunch, and is big news for ELLs. I think it could be a big help for teaching writing.
Writing Pal looks like it might have potential to assist students develop writing skills, though I found the registration process a bit too cumbersome and gave up. Let me know what you think if you try it out. I’m tentatively adding it here.
Gramara Grammar Checker looks interesting.
Google has announced that they are finally going to add their Smart Compose feature to Google Docs being used in G Suite For Education. I’ve written about this tool before (see Expansion Of “Smart Compose” To Google Docs Is Great Learning Tool For ELLs, But Not Available To School Users), and I think it’s great news for ELLs and other students. My support for it has been criticized by some because they think it will mask student writing “deficiencies.” However, I still believe that it will be more helpful than harmful. It seems to me that many of our students “know” what they want to say, but don’t necessarily have the words to communicate it accurately. Smart Compose can give them those tools, and provide models for them to remember for future use. Let me know if you think I’m wrong on this – I’m still open to changing my mind.