How I Use It
I created my class on noredink with a login and password for each student. After that, I can now create specific assignments around specific grammar/punctuation skills for students to practice. When I decide it's appropriate, I can assign quizzes. I can look at each assignment and see, for example, if specific students have problems with particular skills (apostrophes in contractions, commas to combine independent clauses etc.). I can then have specific students work on those skills either with me in a small lesson, or have them practice further on the site.
Teaching punctuation is one of those things that is necessary, but it's really hard to teach in such a way that students' eyes don't simply glaze over. Some kids get things right away, while others need a lot of time to figure out the nuances. Noredink allows me to do a short lesson on a point of punctuation and then just focus on the kids who had trouble. I can see which kids master a skill and let them move on. This is the strength of the site.
One way in which they could improve the system is to create some kind of incentive for students to push themselves a bit harder to master skills themselves. I actually CAN'T BELIEVE I AM SAYING THAT, because I generally don't like sites that give 'badges' and stars and things like that. With noredink, however, when a student makes a mistake, I have found that they often ignore the instruction/teaching the site gives them in response to their errors. This can result in some kids making the same types of mistakes OVER AND OVER again unless a teacher uses the information provided to give further instruction.
You might be thinking, "Uh, what's wrong with that?" and you would be right. There is nothing wrong with that. The site has the potential, however, to have students learn and master things independently. The way it is designed, most do not seem interested in doing so.