Quill is a service that provides an updated take on the old writing worksheets that most of us used in elementary school and middle school. The service offers more than just the writing practice activities, but that is its core feature. Here's how it works; students sign-in (email is not required) to find the worksheets that you have assigned to them. The worksheets contain spelling and grammar errors that your students have to identify and correct. Students submit their corrections and Quill shows them how they did by showing what they did correct and what they should have corrected. An explanation accompanies each Quill correction.
To assign a Quill worksheet to your students sign-in and create a class. Your class will have a code that your students enter when they sign in to use Quill. After creating your class you can start to browse through the pre-made worksheets. Each worksheet is labeled according to the writing skill that your students will practice while working on the worksheet. You can see the results of your students' work through your Quill dashboard. Learn more about Quill in the video below.
Applications for Education The concept behind Quill isn't a revolutionary idea, but it is well-executed. Having the pre-made activities at your disposal and having the opportunity to quickly see how your students did on each activity will free up some of your time. You can then use that time differentiating activities to match the needs of individual students.
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Widbook is a platform designed to help people collaboratively create multimedia books. I reviewed the service last summer and since then it has received a couple updates of note. Widbook's editing platform now allows you to upload DOCX and TXT files. This means that you don't have to do all of your writing online. You could start your project offline and bring it into Widbook later. The second update to note is that Widbook now has a chat feature that you can use with your collaborators to discuss edits to your work while you're in a project. Of course, all Widbooks can still include pictures, text, and videos.
Applications for Education
I love Google Documents for collaborative writing, but sometimes I feel like want more formatting options. If your students feel the same way then Widbook might be the collaborative writing tool for them try on their next writing assignments.
Yesterday, I shared a handful of free tools for creating word clouds. Those were all tools that I had previously tried. This afternoon I set out to find some more word cloud creation tools. You Are Your Words was suggested to me and it's a nice looking site, but it's not functioning like it should right now. To Cloud works, but it's clunky (who wants to spend time explaining "interpolation" to kids just to get them to create a word cloud?). TagCrowd, however, is a winner in my book.
TagCrowd offers three ways to create word clouds. You can create a word cloud by copying and pasting text into TagCrowd, you can upload a plain text file, or you can copy and paste a web address into TagCrowd. After using one of those three methods you can specify how many words you want to display, you can select to show the word count in your word cloud, and you specify words to exclude (common words like "the" are automatically ignored. TagCrowd supports fifteen languages.
Applications for Education TagCrowd, like other word cloud generators, can be useful in helping students identify the words that are emphasized in a written article or a speech. After creating their word clouds ask your students to think about why the author or speaker used some words so frequently.
Word clouds can also be used to help students see which words that they have frequently used in their own works. Have your students create word clouds of their work during the revision process of writing a story or essay. The word cloud will quickly show students which words they have used a lot. Then ask them to think about synonyms for the words that they have used most often in their writings.