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Pros: The online editor, browser extensions, and mobile keyboard apps help users get tips regardless of platform or device.
Cons: It doesn't accurately catch all spelling and grammatical errors, and word usage and distinctive writers' voices can be tricky to judge.
Bottom Line: A flexible tool that -- with teacher guidance -- students can use for both quick fixes and more in-depth writing improvement.
Teachers will find Grammarly's editing software best geared toward individual use. Start students off by having them compose or upload shorter pieces, and then use the sidebar alerts to revise their work. While they do this, it might be helpful to offer some guidance and help students exercise judgment when they make changes. Once they are familiar with the tool, they can tackle longer writing tasks. Although students are unlikely to be aware of the hundreds of grammatical suggestions and conventions the site covers, they can become aware of patterns within their writing and steadily improve. The real-time tips will spur reflection and help kids build confidence over time, especially when combined with individual conferences and meaningful feedback. If the tips within Grammarly aren't enough, try pairing it with another resource such as Purdue Online Writing Lab.
Students can use the tool to help peers as well, either via peer editing or by uploading an excerpt from a published work and modifying it for a different audience or purpose. Uploading published work will help students understand how even professional writers can make improvements -- or not -- and that these changes depend on the audience and purpose. As a teacher, take advantage of the tool when crafting parent emails, student handouts, or professional communications of any type. Your audience will appreciate the clear, concise writing and the tone specifically tailored to them.
Grammarly is a writing and grammar checker geared toward helping writers correct and craft their very best work. It can be used on the web, as a Windows or Mac app, or as a Chrome, Safari, Edge, or Firefox browser extension. Once writers draft, paste, or upload content, alerts appear suggesting improvements and corrections, and users can choose to make changes on the spot or delete the suggestions. Users can also access expanded records about the errors or writing conventions being addressed. Alerts are available on the sidebar of the Grammarly Editor or, if you're using a browser extension, with an option to switch to the Editor view.
Grammarly is free to download and use as a basic grammar and spelling checker, but there's a Premium version that adds features like goal-setting, plagiarism detection, and advanced writing feedback -- most notably, readability. The Assistant feature assigns an overall performance score based on goals, word count, and readability, but the tool doesn't address organization or coherence. This makes it possible to produce technically correct writing that doesn’t make much sense overall. One possible but potentially expensive remedy: The site offers real-time proofreading services, priced according to word count and turnaround time.
Whether students need assistance with how to cite sources, enhance their vocabulary, or improve clarity, Grammarly offers feedback explaining why a writer might make a change. Since it gives suggestions but not answers, writers will need to maintain control over their style and message as they incorporate the feedback. For ELL students, it can be a great fit for learning vocabulary and helping them understand things like sentence structure and syntax. Students can also get help generating citations in MLA, APA, and Chicago styles, but teachers will want to equip kids with knowledge of citation guidelines to avoid common pitfalls. However, in all cases, teachers will want to help students see Grammarly as a guide and not a dictator, and to encourage students to be thoughtful about when to make suggested changes.
A few things to note: First, teachers should look into the Premium version, which offers more substantive feedback. Second, the editor doesn't work with 100% accuracy and updates often, so suggestions may be incorrect or misleading for things like word choice or mechanics. Finally, constant alerts on the page may interrupt the writing flow for students who are easily distracted. In these cases, it might be best to have students draft their writing without the editor and turn it on once they're ready to revise. Teachers should also remind students that everyone's writing voice is different, and no software can account for every single person's unique style and voice, or the type/format of writing they're working toward.