Part of The Atlantic’s series called Why American Students Can’t Write, this article focuses on how technology can help teachers align their strategies more efficiently with what students need.

From the article: “We know that we can use technology to measure whether particular approaches are working — and then continuously improve those approaches. With the help of software, a teacher can queue up smaller chunks of an assignment and feed them to students at just the right time. This is crucial, because feedback needs to be timely in order for students to act on it. It should be provided in manageable chunks and meet the student where he is. Technology can, for instance, guide a teacher to avoid discussing a misplaced modifier if the student can’t yet distinguish the subject of a sentence.” Do English teachers agree?

Imagine in front of you an abysmal high school junior English paper: eight long typed pages about the distinction between revealed and hidden sin in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s Scarlett Letter. At least, a teacher assumes that’s meant to be the topic of the paper, since the final sentence of the introduction states this point with such surety.

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  • Thanks for this, Tina. Evaluation of writing, and specifically argumentation, is the most under examined component of school/education improvement. Any tool or technique that can move us toward more evaluation of student argumentation will improve our democracy. I love Mindshift!

  • Online writing assessment is good and getting better. Here’s a summary of a prize to accelerate innovation in this category with links to a dozen blogs:
    We are working with AFT/NEA and writing groups to plan a series of classroom trials of writing assessment/instruction platforms for the 2013-14 school year.

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