I don’t know about you, but when I read student’s papers, I end up just finding errors and not actually reading what they have to say. Their grammatical errors are so overwhelming that by the time I make it through the essay, I have no idea what their content was like. Ugh. Shoot me now.
I teach juniors, and while we do work on grammar, it’s not as intensive as it is in the younger grades. Our grammar is more of a stylistic thing; unfortunately, students still don’t seem to know when to use a comma or that plural words don’t need apostrophes just because there is an “s” on the end. Talk about annoying. As I read, steam blows out of my ears, and my eyes get blurry with tears of frustration.
Over the course of their junior year, I want my students to really grow as writers. I want them to learn that they can write and that they can be good at it! Many of them, at least, learn some structure and come to see the importance of making a strong claim, properly integrating quotations, and ending with a strong conclusion, but their grammar still sucks.
I can’t pinpoint what it is. I don’t want to completely blame it on technology. Although I’m sure that texting and reading tweets don’t really help, I don’t think they are the downfall of our society or anything. I think the fact that kids aren’t reading as much makes a big difference. They don’t see proper grammar in action while reading for pleasure. They don’t get to gather a rich vocabulary from well-written texts that they’re reading by choice. These deficits make writing tough for them, and reading their essays a pain for me.
This year, I have made more of a concerted effort to help students with their grammar deficiencies without having to actually teach a bunch of grammar lessons (although we’ve done that too, but it’s so hard for them to translate that into their writing). I have found two resources that have come in quite handy so far and today I’ll tell you about one.
What is it?
Grammarly, as I said, is an extension for Chrome. It allows you and students to check grammar by pasting essays, or any kind of writing, into a document where it checks the grammar.
Grammarly can also perform some website and online editing right on the page itself. For example, Grammarly checks my email while I write it. I can also move it into a pop out window to make more advanced changes and then pop it back into the original document easily.
The Price: The paid version is EXPENSIVE. Go ahead and look at the plans; you’ll see. The free version does allow you and the kids to fix basic grammatical errors (commas, capitalization, etc.), which for my kids is going to be helpful.
The free version is limited: Of course it is, it’s free. I still think it’s useful for kids to see that they’ve missed commas, etc.
It doesn’t check directly in Drive: But, you can copy and paste it easily to check it quickly and then return it to your document. There is also an app that you can download to check in Word if you’re on a PC.
Plagiarism Check: On the teacher side, if you have premium (which I’ll explain how to get in a minute) you can paste a student’s paper in and it will detect plagiarism. I love it! It will even show you which website it came from (and how to cite it properly–haha).
Explanations of Grammar issues: Not sure what passive voice means? Not sure how to fix a wordy sentence? Grammarly tries to help.
It checks anything you are typing online: Emails, blog posts, etc. I like that I know I’m not sending embarrassing emails to my colleagues or administrators.
Kids can check their grammar: Honestly, I’ve gotten to the point that I paste an essay in there quickly, see what “score” it gives them on grammar errors and then tell kids to do the same and mark the appropriate grade on the rubric. I am no longer wasting time pointing out every grammatical error they have.
It’s easy to get Premium for free (for awhile): Grammarly offers a link (here it is!) which gives you a free week of Premium for every account that is made using your link. I shared the link with my kids so they could use it for their most recent essay, and because of that I have Premium until September 30th! SCORE!! 🙂