Review by James Denby, Common Sense Education | Updated October 2018

NoRedInk

Useful supplement for ELA has expanded beyond grammar to writing

Subjects & skills
Subjects
  • English Language Arts
  • English Language Learning

Skills
  • College & Career Prep
Grades This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
3–12
Common Sense says (See details)
Teachers say (13 Reviews)
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Pros: Incredibly comprehensive; allows for authentic writing activities (not just grammar practice) with tons of feedback.

Cons: While it's a convenient platform, it's not doing anything revolutionary that'll suddenly change students' attitudes toward grammar.

Bottom Line: The easy assigning and tracking features for teachers -- matched with the interest-based questions and feedback for students -- make this a useful tool to grind through grammar and writing practice.

Ideally, teachers will use NoRedInk as one of several tools for teaching writing conventions and skills. Why? Well, no matter how much work the NoRedInk team has put into making the site engaging -- and they've been thoughtful about updates over the years -- some students will struggle, since grammar and writing practice can be a grind. In this way, teachers should use NoRedInk as a supplement to more interest-based and creative writing assignments. Teachers could then use those assignments -- and NoRedInk's diagnostic tools -- to identify some areas of potential growth for students, and then use NoRedInk to help students improve. 

An effective flow for using NoRedInk would look something like this:

  1. Assign a diagnostic task for the whole class. 
  2. Review results from the diagnostic and provide targeted instruction.
  3. Provide practice for students in the target group. 
  4. Assess progress and identify need for further support.

Used well as a supplemental activity, NoRedInk can be a handy complement to in-depth writing instruction. Appropriately targeted exercises and writing activities, along with the excellent supports offered with these activities, will help students better understand writing and grammar mechanics and how they can improve. Moreover, by using the teacher dashboard's assessment feedback, teachers can easily target instruction, help students set clearly defined goals, and develop as writers. 

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NoRedInk is a website designed to help students learn and practice essential elements of English grammar and understand important elements of good writing (such as use of evidence). Teachers can create classes, add students, and assign specific skills for student mastery. There's material for just about every possible writing convention students might need help with, ranging from subject-verb agreement and parallelism to compound sentence structure and citation formats. Beyond grammar practice, NoRedInk also allows teachers to create and assign writing prompts, usefully expanding assessment potential beyond grammar drills. Within the teacher dashboard, it's easy to see students' work completion and progress toward mastery of individual skills. The diagnostics, practice, and quiz elements give detailed information about each student. The Premium version also adds some of the site's best features, including a complete curriculum for grammar and writing as well as tools to help students revise and improve their writing. 

For students, NoRedInk allows for some degree of personalization. Students can select their interests (sports, TV shows, books, etc.) and then see sentences reflecting these interests. When beginning a new topic, NoRedInk gives straightforward instruction and learning tips and then provides clear, easy-to-understand support as students build understanding. Students can easily monitor their own progress and recognize areas for growth. 

If used tactically as a supplement, NoRedInk can be a useful tool to help students master writing conventions and become better writers. By itself, it's not enough. Research shows that to become a good writer -- and to learn grammar -- requires engaging writing assignments, quality feedback, and a well-maintained reading habit. Still, teachers know that students do benefit from some targeted practice to learn and develop specific skills. To help with this, NoRedInk allows teachers to quickly identify where students need help and to target instruction for students who need greater support. There's a ton of content on offer to help with discrete grammatical skills, and excellent feedback and support for students motivated to dig in. There's room for growth, though. The writing activities provide some useful variety, but the focus remains predominantly on the grammar exercises. Moreover, while there's an effort to make things more tailored to students' interests, just swapping character names into questions/prompts is superficial, and students will likely find it cheesy.

Overall Rating

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?

The site goes to great lengths to make learning grammar more engaging, but for many students it'll remain a hard sell.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer?

NoRedInk has intelligently incorporated more writing activities alongside rote grammar instruction, but there's room for more.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students?

Clear explanations and examples are everywhere to help introduce topics, teach new concepts, and support students when they make errors.


Common Sense Reviewer
James Denby Educator/Curriculum Developer

Teacher Reviews

(See all 13 reviews) (13 reviews) Write a review
Featured review by
Tara H. , Classroom teacher
Classroom teacher
Gretna Middle School
Gretna, United States
Best tool I've seen for getting students excited about grammar!
I love using NoRedInk in my classroom. It engages students in grammar lessons far better than other resources I have tried. It also allows students who already have a strong grasp of a concept to move quickly through a lesson and move on to other activities, while automatically providing students who are struggling with a concept with the additional practice they need.
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