High school students are required to write essays pertaining to a variety of topics. It's one of their roles as a student. The ability to write well is a life skill. Never underestimate the importance of teaching a student to write effectively.
Unfortunately, many students with special needs fall far behind their peers with regard to written expression. Often, they are allowed to write less, or allowed to dictate to an adult scribe or receive so much support, the final product does not reflect their effort. Nevertheless, it is imperative we provide opportunities to improve independent writing skills following explicit writing instruction.
Now there is a free, online tool, called Paper Rater, which analyzes writing across five distinct categories:
- Plagiarism detection
- Spell Check
- Grammar Check
- Word Choice
- Vocabulary Builder
I used the tool recently myself; I submitted an abstract for consideration to present at a national AT conference and thought it the perfect time to evaluate the use of this tool for students. The feedback it offered was intuitive to follow, yet basic, possibly a "just-right" combination for struggling writers.
Share this tool with your students. Do your own data collection. Have them submit their work prior to having Paper Rate analyze their work and then compare to what is submitted after they use the tool. Does it make a difference in the quality of the work? Does it change how they approach the writing task? Does it change student performance?
Another tool to share with your students as they build their own toolbelts for a lifetime. (Thank you, Ira Socol).