Secondary Solutions

Ideas, tips, and tools for the middle and high school English Language Arts teacher. Visit our store at www.4secondarysolutions.com!

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Grammarly Review and Video Tutorial

The kind folks over at Grammarly recently let me try out their service with my high school English classes.  The service offers to help students continue to develop writing skills through automated instructional feedback in grammar and word choice, as well as plagiarism tracking.  I tried out the teacher/student version, which you can learn more about at Grammarly.com/edu.  Check out the video tutorial below and the pros and cons list.  Please let me know if you have questions or comments and remember to check back weekly for more teacher tips, tutorials, and tirades. ;)

http://youtu.be/p5FPlRqVR30

 Grammarly Pros and Cons from my perspective:

Pros:

  • Students can submit their papers multiple times to receive maximum automated input that is more effective than a simple word processor grammar check.
  • The grammar checker saves time for me as it catches many mistakes. I am all about saving time as we all know that English teachers have enough on our plate already!
  • Grammar explanations give students clear guidelines.
  • Plagiarism checker prevents unintentional plagiarism and takes away the excuse of ignorance that students sometimes claim.
  • There is a blackboard option and convenient roll out instructions.

Cons:

  • Unless you have school and department support, the price can be limiting.  (Check out pricing here)
  • Some grammar suggestions misunderstand student intention, which can confuse the paper further.
  • The teacher side of the website is limited in information.  I could see how many times a paper was checked, but I couldn’t see the actual mistakes or plagiarism to tell whether they were valid or not. I had to have students print their reports for me, which seemed like a lot of paper.
  • The plagiarism tracker is limited to online sources and is not the key component to this service (as opposed to services like turnitin.com).

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Harness the Power of Text and Receive Immediate Info with Cel.ly

One of my awesome co-workers went to a conference recently and brought back information about a cool new edtech platform called celly.  It is a secure way for teachers, students, parents, and other education professionals to communicate via the web, text message, or the celly app. I’m just beginning to think of all the ways this platform could be used to harness the power of student device love to enhance my instruction.  Below is an introduction to this cool new tool. including a couple of ways I could use it in my classroom.

Caveats:

  • For students using text instead of the app, standard text rates apply so students need to work responsibly
  • The platform is free for the basic options, but it is $5/mo for teachers to have more advanced assessment

What do you think?  Could you use this in your classroom and if so how?

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Create Classroom Engagement and Collaboration with Google Presentations!

Google Presentations

Today, I am excited to bring you a tip for using google presentations to create classroom engagement and collaboration.  This idea is a combination of a project that a colleague of mine has done for years, the inspiration of Catlin Tucker’s vocabulary instruction (she is really amazing), plus of course, my deep seated love of socratic seminar, novel study, and google drive (full tutorial here)!  This project puts ownership in the hands of students and frees up a lot of my time for meaningful writing feedback instead of a ton of prep for teaching a novel.  Check out the Youtube video below for the specifics of my project:

How could you tweak this to use google presentations in your classroom?  I’d love to hear your feedback and ideas! For other amazing resources in writing and novel study, be sure to check out Secondary Solutions!

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