Archive | March, 2014

Robo Grader Review: ProWritingAid Google Add-on

23 Mar

4:59A computer can give more effective and timely feedback than I can…sometimes. The potential of “robo grading” excites me. In the case of redundancies, clichés, passive voice, sentence variety, and other writing concepts, a focused report generated by an algorithm can do more than I can. I have used Writer’s Workbench in the past, my colleagues have used ETS Criterion, and I want to try White Smoke. Of course, a free option via Google Add-ons has enormous appeal.

As I mentioned in my previous post, I wanted to let my students experiment with ProWritingAid, one of the new Add-ons offered in Google Drive. This week students submitted novel analysis essays on The Catcher in the Rye, so I imagined online editing reports could get them started on revision while I mark the essays.

Unfortunately, my students and I are underwhelmed. Now, we need to give ProWritingAid a better chance. These opinions are based on just one test of about 30 minutes. We will try it again very soon, but based on this week’s toe-in-the-water trial the feedback was too clunky and abstract to be of much use:

Our feedback on ProWritingAid’s feedback:

Continue reading

Looking Good: Better Visual Aids

16 Mar

Visual AidsI prefer Goldilocks-sized conferences—not too big, not too small. I always meet energized, creative teachers and leave with ready-to-use ideas, as well as broader pedagogical questions to ponder. Earlier this year I attended the ELMLE 2014 conference in Berlin. One of the highlights was a session with Joyce Valenza, librarian extraordinaire whose human-centered, practical use of technology was very inspirational. The wiki she created for the session is filled with so many wonderful tools and ideas, I find myself needing to curate her curation in order to focus in on what really matters to me. I’ll write several posts condensing this session, but in this post I want to focus on some sites and tools Joyce shared that can improve the visual aids we use in our teaching and learning. Continue reading

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