A couple years back, I kept hearing this question among many of the teachers I work with: how do we encourage proofreading? That led me to thinking: how are we helping students with this task and what technology can we offer to help students be better proofreaders? When I say how can technology help us I am not talking about auto-correct. Auto-correct happens automagically and most times we are not even aware that it is happening in the background. Instead, I’m talking about a tool to help not only draw attention to errors but also offer students details about the error in their writing.
Grammarly ended up being the tool we decided would most effectively meet our needs. As a personal anecdote, I tried the premium version of Grammarly in our decision-making process (here’s a post where I talk about my initial reactions to using Grammarly Premium). When my free trial was over, I found myself immediately missing the additional features available before being reverted to the free version. This was telling.
In using Grammarly, I immediately found that the suggestions for improvement encouraged me to learn from my mistakes. Because corrections are highlighted in the right pane – which can easily be expanded or collapsed – I get a clear sense of where my errors are and a detailed explanation of what my error means. Yes, I can click a button to automatically correct my mistake, but I have to actively make the decision to accept or reject the change. And with Grammarly, I am provided an explanation of why this correction is being suggested. Advanced Grammarly features provide suggestions for vocabulary enhancement, a plagiarism check, and flag overused/redundant words.
Tutorials and Roll-Out Plan
To help teachers at my school with setup and roll-out, I created a presentation for them to use in their classes, including a video to orient students. I think it’s important that we remember to give students a thorough overview of new tools and not just assume that they will figure things out. Particularly when we are paying for a premium product, we want to help students use all of the features available effectively and well.
- Grammarly Rollout Plan (for teachers)
- Getting Started: Grammarly for Writing (for students)
- Video: Grammarly Tutorial: Tips for Using Grammarly Premium & An Overview of Grammarly for Google Docs
Implementation & Initial Outcomes
I had a chance to team up with my colleague, English teacher Ms. Swann, to brainstorm ideas early on in this school year. For one of the first papers assigned in her classes, she asked students to do a formal “revision assignment” before submitting their paper. In this task, students were asked to fill out a chart where they:
- Noted the Grammarly diagnosis
- Copy/pasted their original sentence
- Wrote a brief note about why there was a need to revise the sentence
- Copy/pasted their revised sentence
After all students completed their revision assignment, Ms. Swann asked students to list 1-2 writing goals and made a word cloud, which then served as the basis for a full class discussion about what students learned in their proofreading process. As we continue to ask students to do a similar task for each paper they turn in, we hope that this careful revision process will become a natural habit.
Please feel free to use any of the tutorials or ideas mentioned above in your own classes. If you have used Grammarly in a creative or noteworthy way in your classes, I’d love to hear ideas from you!