Week 8 or 9: March 18, Grammerly.com

I decided to check out Grammerly.com this week because of its uses in an English class. To be honest, I consider it cheating. However, it is right up my line of work. Here is the beginning:

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The free version offers to help with basic grammar. It also adds an extension to your toolbar:

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Interestingly, grammerly immediately starts editing all of your writing – for instance it added a red line under the word grammerly in this sentence because I did not capitalize it – as an example. If the mouse is hovered over the word, the correction or ignore suggestions are offered.

I downloaded one of my student’s papers that I had already graded and knew all the grammar issues. Grammerly.com made four suggestions for free. I had found probably 30 total mistakes. Grammerly then offered to let me upgrade to find the rest:

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The cost is pretty expensive – an annual membership costs $11.99 for a 12 month commitment. If someone wanted to just join briefly to fix one paper, it would cost $29.95.  As an English teacher then, I am feeling quite reassured that my job is safe. Grammerly.com is not going to replace me! Considering Word will do about the same amount of corrections without adding an extension, having to sign up for emails, or being solicited for memberships – I think typing one’s paper on Word and submitting or then moving it to Google Docs to share is probably less hassle. As a teacher, I believe learning the basics of grammar the old fashioned way is a much better alternative.


Week 7 – Deekit.com

Deekit.com is similar to a Google Doc in that it is shared and multiple people can work on it.

At its simplest – it works like a white board:

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So you could keep lists of things you want to do – oh and this does have an app to use on your phone.

The opening page which explains all of the uses, sells the product as a way for business people to interface or have meetings from long distances. It is marketed to teachers and students as well.

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To me then it becomes which product has the type of symbols that fit your style. My impression of Google accessories is that they are always the most basic – but very easy to use and compatible with just about everything. However, if you wanted more specific work done – for instance if you were teaching a graphic art class in high school – this obviously goes further than a Google Doc.

The basic version is free – if you want more stuff, it costs.

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This also reminded me of Padlet in a way – as far as different people contributing to one large board. I am working on trying to find the easiest way for my students to copy and paste citations and their url’s while doing research. I like this – however, again, I don’t really want my students pulling out their phones while working on research papers because they will start texting. Since this is also available on the computer – it makes it one such solution for students.

Week 6 Feb 25, 2018 Padlet

So I decided to try out Padlet with my classes because it looked so cool. I set up a Padlet – one for each class. They are both located on my “dashboard.” So the setting up was pretty easy. I have two:

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My 10th grade class did really well. My prompt was to pose a question about the play Antigone.

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We had a class discussion about asking “inquiry based” questions that add to everyone’s learning experience. They were excited and interested for the most part. I did help some of the students with questions and answers. Some of the students looked up answers, looked up Sophocles, and looked up pictures on Pinterest.

The 11th grade, on the other hand, are working on a unit on American Poets. For the most part they are not really into poetry, but I insist it is worthwhile. So when I opened up the Padlet, I was hoping for the same sort of reaction as the 10th grade class. Instead, I immediately lost a couple of kids who grabbed the chance to go surfing wherever they went. Here is what their input looked like:

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I should note my two top performing students were out of town on a school activity. One of the biggest problems as a high school teacher trying to include technology in the classroom is keeping students on task.

In any case, Padlet is really quite easy to use. I didn’t get frustrated, and it didn’t take very long to set it up. Each new Padlet gives you the option to use three search words. So I attached the word Savoonga to both of mine so the kids could easily find them. I also invited each student to participate. One of the classes – the tenth grade class, I gave them a password and the ability to write. However, it seems as if the ability to vote on or rate another student’s entry is not available under the “write” level, so I allowed the 11th graders to become moderators. We ran out of time and didn’t try out the rating section. I think if I can come up with a moderating application to keep students from surfing while we are working that I would enjoy this more.

Week 5 – IXL as a supplement in an English class

I am using IXL as a supplement in my classes for students who only show up once or twice a week. They are unable to follow the work in class because of poor attendance. We are under mandate to graduate and pass an many students as possible. So I have come up with a couple of supplemental programs for about 1/3 of my students. Our attendance rate at our school is 63% that is an average, meaning it is much worse at the high school level.

IXL is one way to give students a chance to work on English at their own pace. I generally start them at the 6th grade level and let them work on it for awhile (several weeks) before asking if it is too easy and do they want to jump to the 7th grade level.

One disadvantage of the system is that all subjects get lumped together. Our high school science teacher uses IXL as well, so I get emails reporting how many correct questions “my” students have answered. However, that includes all of the science questions.


However, once logged in, I can access my students through Analytics and setting the subject to ELA. A list of students appears with the number of questions and which categories they have completed. I have sampled some of the questions. I have the same problem with this online program as many. The students can get them wrong and slowly just keep retaking it until they get it correct. I don’t think tis constitutes learning so much as beating the system. However, in terms of students who only show up once a week – I will take it. They are otherwise lost and alienated from the class because they have no idea what is going on. Generally these students have a history of years of poor attendance. I literally have seniors functioning at the second grade level, who will be graduating because that is how it is done in Alaska (so I am told). I have watched seniors the last two years graduate who were nearly illiterate. For these students, IXL is a great way to let them feel like they are in control of their own learning. It gives them a sense of accomplishment and mastery while hopefully teaching a little bit of ELA.

Am I interested in using this for my students who come to class everyday? Not at all. I don’t feel like hundreds and hundreds of multiple choice questions is any real alternative to learning in the classroom. My students learn grammar mostly through writing and editing their writing. It is meaningful and they learn from their own work – not from guessing. Screenshot 2018-02-18 17.31.25.png

Read and Write – Chrome App

I was introduced to this at an NEA convention last fall. It is an app that can be downloaded using Chrome – it’s from Google. It then installs a little purple icon on your tool bar (and an R and a W on it).

The primary reason, but probably most basic use, is to replace regular index cards while doing research online. The students can merely click the icon and then have the option to create a note card while reading – so they can either paraphrase or copy and paste as well as injecting the url into the note.

Jumping up a huge leap in technology, it also allows the student to speak notes and have them written into their notes as well as having them read back.

For younger students, it also has a picture with word dictionary. One aspect I don’t like so much is that you can also have it suggest words in a sentence. Seems like cheating to me!

it has a free option for teachers. I am not sure yet if that means their students get it too for free. Otherwise, it’s free for 30 days and then it costs money for various types of subscriptions. My students will be using this on their next paper – I love it!

Kahoot – Recovered 1/28/18


This is sort of an oldie but a goodie. I am just putting a little twist on it. For my senior British Lit class this year, my students were required to make their own Kahoot and present it in front of the whole class, have the class login, and play their quiz. We used it for Beowulf. Each student was graded on their quiz, their ease of handling the technology, and their ability to stand in front of the class, speaking and presenting. It went really well. All the kids were familiar with Kahoot from another class.

In terms of English and English standards – it addressed the speaking component as well as studying the classics. What I really like about it was the combination of the kids figuring out how to word a question and give three (out of four) reasonably accurate answers but with only one correct one. They were allowed to pick something silly for the fourth answer. Some of my students set up a Kahoot with three or four questions and a couple of students just did one question – that was how I differentiated. One of my sped kids was allowed to sit in a chair facing away from the class (toward the screen) for her presentation because she was so frightened by the experience. But she did it! We all clapped for her.

As far as easy to use applications – Kahoot is very easy. I might be the best test case for how easy or difficult any app is. If I figured it out without help,  then anyone can. I really like a couple of features – you can use teams not just individuals which is a great way to include kids who might feel left out. I also has the ability to be very short or very long – I set up one with 39 questions! The biggest drawback to Kahoot is the music – which is quite annoying after a few minutes.


Week Three – Voice Thread 2/4/18


This week I am going to walk through how to make a Voice thread. This is the piece of technology that I am going to do my big project on with my students in class.

Here is a You Tube video that I used before I actually attempted to make my own. It is short and to the point.

After setting up an account. Click “create” at the top of the page.


I posted the create page link above.

You will then have a choice of adding media: other Voicethreads, videos, photos, etc:Screenshot 2018-02-04 16.55.14

At this point, I decided to start a Voice Thread to instruct my students on their project.

So now it is time to accumulate files, websites, you tube videos, photos, whatever you want to put in there.

I wanted a little more information so I watched a longer video:

The first thing I learned was how adaptable Voice Thread is – it can be used on a PC or a Mac and has adaptions for Android among other devices.

That little comment button on the bottom is how you add your voice to your slides, for instance if you want a voice over to a Google slide show. You keep clicking slides as you talk through each one. It also allow you to draw that skinny yellow line with your mouse while taking to highlight something on the screen for your viewers.

I had previously used Screen-o-matic. I think this is easier.

At the end, it replays so you can check your work – if you like it – save it. Then it is ready to be shared – just like a Google Doc or Google Slide show.

There is a limit of five Voice Threads for free. Over that, the premium is $99 per year. You can email the links for each Voice Thread – it hangs outs on the cloud and you can delete one of your five to make room to create a new one (YouTube, Using Voice Thread with a PowerPoint, Oct. 16, 2015).

That’s it for my basic presentation – more to see when I present to the class!