Writing, Analysis, and Discussion (oh my!)
I love this product (trust me, my colleagues are tired of hearing me rave about it) and, even better, my students love it too! The thing I love most is that it makes writing a "normal" activity, as opposed to something we do on special occasions or for big projects, because the work of reading, scoring, and responding isn't only on my shoulders. Now, we write all the time, and they get better at doing it, because they're getting consistent and varied feedback. It also gives them practice looking at and evaluating their peers' work, which also makes them better writers. Finally, the huge library of texts means that I can expose them to a wide variety of literature (without spending hours finding selections and creating handouts), and the writing prompts are already included.
How I Use It
Like I said above, I use it for short, frequent writing assignments. We have Writing Wednesday in my class, and the students write a response in StudySync every Wednesday. In my Debate class, I use it so they can share their reactions to debates or discussions and then see what other students have to say without feeling embarrassed or awkward. I also use the Blasts in all my classes. In my English classes, we have Blast Mondays, and we start the week with one of the Live blasts (for High School), and then we follow up with a discussion about it. Sometimes we connect it to the literature, and sometimes we don't. Either way, they enjoy talking about real life issues. In my Debate classes, I create Blasts that I assign to them after each debate so they can share their opinions and vote on a winner.