Review by Stephanie Trautman, Common Sense Education | Updated May 2016


Let students do the writing to make grammar lessons more meaningful

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

  • Communication & Collaboration
  • Critical Thinking
Grades This grade range is based on learning appropriateness and doesn't take into account privacy. It's determined by Common Sense Education, not the product's publisher.
Common Sense says (See details)
Teachers say (62 Reviews)

Take a look inside

6 images

Pros: Learning grammar and writing skills in a more authentic context reinforces learning and helps cement important skills.

Cons: There aren't many premade activity packs; users will likely need to create their own.

Bottom Line: Excellent opportunities for grammar and writing practice; teachers may need to tailor lessons to best fit into their own curriculum.

Before your students dive in on their own -- especially if you have kids working at a variety of levels -- it's worth your while to try one of the lessons together as a class. Project one of the introductory paragraphs and correct it together so everyone can get the hang of how the site (or Chrome app) works. During this intro, you can also do some class-wide informal assessment that might help give you a better idea of your students' knowledge base around a particular skill.

Students can log in at any time to see what's you've assigned. The program is likely to be most effective if you assign lessons that relate to the concurrent work you're already doing in class. Depending on your class's device access, you might want to group students by skill or even individualize assignments if your class is smaller. Also, if your students have consistent access outside of school, consider assigning lessons as homework.

Continue reading Show less

Quill is a (mostly) free tool for interactive grammar instruction. More than 150 lessons are available for first through eighth grades, though it could also be used with high school-level ELLs. Teachers can assign single lessons or entire units to individual students, small groups, or a whole class. Lessons are organized around specific Common Core-aligned grammar and writing skills. 

Each lesson begins with an introduction and diagnostic paragraph for students to read, proofread, and rewrite. Based on their performance, students are then led to a related lesson that's been modified to meet their ability and target new skills. Within the lessons, students read sentences and correct them by typing an edited version. To be considered correct, errors need to be fixed and the sample sentence has to be complete, with accurate spelling and capitalization.

Both ELA and ELL teachers are always on the lookout for quality lessons to support their grammar instruction but often resort to making their own in the absence of better ready-made resources. Quill fills a void in this respect, giving teachers instant access to the kinds of grammar lessons they've usually had to create on their own: authentic writing with relevant subject matter targeting a specific Common Core-aligned concept. With Quill, the icing on top is that the lessons are adaptive; students get immediate, instructive feedback as they work through the application. Feedback alerts students to both correct and incorrect examples of usage as it relates to a variety of Common Core-aligned skills and concepts. 

Given the range of grade-level lessons from first through eighth grades, your students can grow into these exercises as they become more proficient with reading and typing. However, it's important to note that some students -- particularly ELLs and emerging readers and writers -- might struggle. Overall, the program seems best suited for upper-elementary and middle schoolers. Also, the fact that accurate spelling and capitalization count is a bit of a mixed bag. Of course, these are important foundational skills; however, this specificity could make it harder for teachers to isolate exactly why a particular student might be struggling, especially at lower grade levels. While it's great that student progress is easy to interpret -- green for mastery, yellow for difficulty, red for review needed -- teachers won't be able to dig in and view students' actual responses, a feature that could aid in individualizing follow-up instruction.

Overall Rating

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

Instant feedback on their writing may entice some kids, and the adaptive nature should keep them challenged. ELLs and younger users -- especially emerging readers and writers -- could have difficulty following along.

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

Real-time feedback helps students improve their writing. The class and student reports are solid, allowing teachers to easily track students' proficiency.

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

Students get a tutorial as they begin exercises or whenever they need help. While the exercises are adaptive and can be retaken, targeted support is limited for ELLs and students with special needs.

Common Sense Reviewer
Stephanie Trautman Classroom teacher

Teacher Reviews

(See all 62 reviews) (62 reviews) Write a review
Featured review by
Andre J. , Classroom teacher
Classroom teacher
Teacher's Homework Assistant
The students seem to respond well to the tasks and the concept of working online - a definite bonus as I don't need to nag and cajole them into doing their work. As a newbie user, I find the interface difficult to use intuitively. I made quite a number of false starts before I could find my way around. Some kind of hover-help would be really useful or even a 5-steps to complete guide.
Read full review