Tech Tuesdays: BriefTube–A Chrome Extension

As we move further into incorporating multimedia elements into the classroom, a new set of problems can arise. In the same way that we can have students who struggle to analyze and understand text, the same issues are present for viewing videos. Since embedding media into English Language Arts instruction and the idea of media literacy is so important, using the tool BriefTube can be a potential solution.

BriefTube is a Chrome extension, which means it works on any Chrome browser. It offers a variety of tools to help students as they are viewing videos in the classroom. Once installed through the Chrome Web Store, students need to create their own account. Their school-associated email is usually the best choice for their login. When a website is eligible for use with BriefTube, the extension icon will light up in red. A gray icon means it cannot be used with the page currently being viewed.

sfxD0C3Npkf2gooYw8rmQkg

The best place to try this tool out is through a YouTube video. While it works with all videos, its best benefits occur when the video is on the longer side. Once you are in a video of your choice, you should click on the BriefTube extension. You will have several options, including Outline, Search, and Common Words, as well as the BriefTube Facebook support page and the community page where you can email with questions and support.

sT2p43e-4uPp64tPBF3MigQ

When you initially select the BriefTube icon, it will take a few seconds for the extension to recognize the video. The outline is the first resource to appear. It breaks down the video into different chapters with appropriately titled sections beneath them. The titles tend to come from the words mentioned at that particular moment in the video. The extension also provides the time for when this particular section of the video begins.

sN70Gz1cJOz5arREC4wkNKA

When users click on the individual sections, the extension immediately moves the video to that exact moment.

If the outline does not bring you to the exact moment you need, the “Search” tool can be used. When you click on this tab in the extension, you will see both a search bar and a more detailed transcript of the words spoken in the video.

unnamed

In addition, you can also search for specific words or phrases within this tab. The extension will compile a list of times in the video where that word and phrase are stated. Similar to the outline, if you click on each instance where the phrase occurs, the extension will immediately transport you to that portion of the website.

BriefTube 2

The last category allows the user to create a word cloud of the most frequently used words in the video. The bigger the word in the word cloud, the more frequently it is used. This tool gives you a good sense of the main ideas of the video.

pasted image 0

BriefTube is a simple tool that allows users to interact with videos more easily than before. In the classroom, this tool would come in handy with students who need to find specific evidence in a video. Without having to rewatch a video over again from the beginning, students can easily look through the outline or search for specific moments. This tool could help with embedding multimedia research or completing classwork that uses videos. It is simple to use but extremely helpful with media literacy in the classroom.

New Jersey Council of Teachers of English, the New Jersey state affiliate of NCTE, the National Council of Teachers of English

Tech Tuesdays: BriefTube–A Chrome Extension

Office Hours: Advice for New Teachers

Untitledby Dr. Patricia L. Schall

June 18, 2018

Dear Doc,

As an English educator fresh out of college, I feel quite in tune with modern strategies for teaching reading and writing as well as assessment. I’m worried about conflicts with veteran teachers who believe their methods to be tried and true. What’s the best way to avoid conflict with other teachers while still holding true to my educational philosophies?

Yours truly,

Feeling Conflicted

Dear Conflicted,

So many of my former students and current early-career teachers have experienced the dilemma you describe in your question. You don’t want to hide your light under the proverbial bushel, but you also want to get along with your new colleagues. So you find yourself walking that fine line between being true to your educational philosophy and making some adjustments to the reality of the new world you inhabit. These adjustments do not require you to “sell out,” but they can help you get along.

When I taught Student Teaching Seminar, I asked my students to participate in an on-line discussion board using our college course support platform. I would post a prompt each week, asking the students to respond without using actual names of people or places. Toward the end of student teaching (now called Clinical Practice, but that is a topic for another blog post), I asked my students to post something they learned about the profession that they would like to share with future student teachers.

One of my students, Jeannie (pseudonym), posted this bit of advice: “Be Switzerland. Well, this probably extends well beyond the teaching profession, but . . . be friendly with everyone—even those who may rub you the wrong way, at first. Sometimes those impressions change. Choose your closer allies wisely–professional people who like to talk about ideas–people who inspire you!” I was struck by her suggestion to “Be Switzerland” and thought she was on the right track. Sometimes you just have to be neutral and diplomatic to get along. Being civil does not mean compromising your ideals. Then, as you get to know your colleagues better, you can identify those you can trust to be your allies. All new teachers need at least one buddy to get through the first year of teaching. That person might be the formal mentor assigned to them or another teacher. Teachers all need trusted partners to survive and thrive during those challenging early career years and beyond. The attrition rate within the first five years of teaching, though some current studies show it is declining, still remains a sobering statistic. This is no time to be the rugged individual who sets out on the trail alone.

Remember that you can find in-person partners in school and virtual allies online. NCTE hosts many groups tailored to your individual interests and needs. I encourage you to explore those options and others, including those available through NEA, NJEA, and in social media forums. Twitter alone offers a wealth of connections and resources. Explore EdCamps and other free or low-cost options to meet people. NJCTE schedules free Coffee and Conversation meetings in different locations around the state. Going to professional conferences and spending time with others who are serious about their work helps you develop a wider professional network of colleagues who are there for you.

Of course as a new teacher, you will also confront advice you don’t need. Some of your veteran colleagues might try to “domesticate” you. Your freshness, recent knowledge, and technology skills can be intimidating to established teachers. Some of my own students during their first year of teaching found themselves responding to unwanted or unhelpful recommendations. I think of one woman who made a habit of staying late after school to do her planning. A veteran colleague would see her in her classroom and urge her to go home since her behavior was “making the rest of us look bad.” She learned to “be Switzerland,” acknowledge his admonitions, smile at him, and just reply that she liked staying late so she could use the copier when it was not in demand and leave some of her work at school. Her response to her colleague neutralized the situation and compromised none of her principles.

And what do you do about those valuable skills you learned in your education courses, those that form the foundation of your practice in school? I would never encourage you to heed the words of colleagues who declare, “Forget all that stuff you learned in college. This is the real world now.” You always can reply by acknowledging how much you are learning in this brave, new “real world” and how you genuinely appreciate being able to apply the strategies you learned in college to the experience and knowledge you are gaining working with colleagues and kids. When the moment seems right, you might even nicely offer to share some of your new teaching strategies with others and invite them to observe your class when you are applying some of the methods you find so useful. You could even offer to conduct a hands-on workshop for colleagues during professional development time or another time convenient to them. Let them know you are willing to support them as they try out a new strategy. You are just making a friendly offer, and they are under no obligation to accept it.

Of course visibility as a bright star can sometimes backfire on you through no fault of your own. One of my more recent students just finished her second year of teaching English in an out-of-state school that will remain nameless. She has been teaching in the school’s English language learner classes. Her students need skills, self-confidence, and encouragement. To help her students gain English language fluency and self-confidence, she initiated a “student ambassador program,” where her ELL students are available for situations that require translation from their native languages into English. She also invited the students to write poems about themselves and their cultures based on the writing of George Ella Lyon. She displayed their final drafts in the hallway and they read their poems at a board of education luncheon, where they received a standing ovation. These activities proved to be an enduring learning experience for the students. Their teacher earned the praise of administrators and was named teacher of the month several times, leading to some professional jealousy. Furthermore, the principal unfortunately made a thoughtless top-down decision and required all the other teachers to replicate the poetry assignment. This hasty edict led to her increased isolation and the domestication of her good idea. One size does not fit all, and dictating a “good practice” guarantees its failure. This new teacher now has few trusted allies at school and looks to people she meets in graduate classes and through other professional connections to serve as buddies.

I have not told this story to discourage you, Conflicted, but just to let you know that I recognize how complex it is to remain true to your ideals as you learn to negotiate the twists and turns of a new work culture. I don’t have easy answers for you. I still can recall how dispirited I felt as a tenured teacher with ten years under my belt when I had complained to a colleague about how the culture of a school I loved had become so negative under a new principal. He responded to me, “You know what your problem is, don’t you, Pat? You care too much about what you do.” I replied that I didn’t know any other way to function. So, you see, Conflicted, even veterans get the blues!

So, to sum up, continue to follow your ideals like the North Star. Do what you need to survive without compromising your belief system. Don’t let the naysayers get you down. Seek trusted allies. Offer to share your knowledge and skills with others. Remain flexible, since you can learn something from others too. Becoming a good teacher is a journey, not a destination. As Leila Christenbury says, you are always on the path to “being and becoming” a good teacher. Be positive and pleasant. Avoid the negative people. Be Switzerland. Continue to let your light shine.

Dear readers—feel free to offer Conflicted additional suggestions in the comments section of this blog post.

Professionally yours,

Doc

New Jersey Council of Teachers of English, the New Jersey state affiliate of NCTE, the National Council of Teachers of English

Office Hours: Advice for New Teachers

Tech Tuesdays: Engaging Students in Vocabulary with Pear Deck

When Pear Deck was first introduced to educators, it was an interactive way for students to participate in class lectures. It went from the students being silent observers during a slideshow to actually contributing to the lesson. Pear Deck’s latest feature continues its mission of student engagement. The Vocabulary & Flashcard Factory offers a new way for teachers to help students practice and build their vocabulary skills in the classroom. Its easy-to-use interface makes the program easy for teachers of any grade level to integrate into the classroom.

The first step toward using the Vocabulary & Flashcard Factory is creating a teacher Pear Deck account. Once logged in, the dashboard will immediately prompt the user to choose between creating a Pear Deck presentation or a vocabulary set. Choose “Start a Vocab List.”

sU71dlseWN4iG7DRcIFx_MA

Users will be transported to a new page, which allows a list of vocabulary terms and definitions to be created. One of the nice built-in features from Pear Deck is the integration of the Google Dictionary. When a user types a term on a flashcard, they can select the “Find Definitions” button. Google Dictionary will automatically populate options for definitions for the word. In most cases, the word will have one definition that can be inserted, but some vocabulary terms will have multiple options that a user can choose.

unnamed

As users begin to make their list, Pear Deck begins to generate related terms. These words are usually similar in topic to the words that are already included on the vocabulary list. For example, adding a Tier 3 vocabulary word, such as “thermodynamics”, to the list caused the program to brainstorm other words that fall under the same scientific topic. Users can select these related terms to help build their vocabulary list for students.

unnamed related

Transferring Lists from Other Places

Users are not limited to simply typing in all their vocabulary words, though. Pear Deck offers another option to avoid retyping lists over and over again. Lists can be copy and pasted from other websites and documents. For example, Quizlet was previously a popular tool for students practicing their vocabulary and terms independently. If a teacher already has a list of vocabulary created on Quizlet, they can easily transfer it over to use in Pear Deck.

Users should open a Quizlet set. Then they need to find the three horizontal dots button located underneath the title of the set. They should select “Export” and a pop-up window will appear on the website. It provides a text-only version of the flashcards from the set. Users should select “Copy Text” to have all of those terms and definitions immediately copied.

Pear Deck 2

Once copied, users should return to their Pear Deck vocabulary list. They simply need to click on the new flashcard as if they are creating one card. The cursor should be in the “Term” text area. Then, to import all of the terms and definitions, users should hit Ctrl + V on their keyboard. All of the terms will immediately become their own flashcard with the corresponding definitions below it.

Pear Deck 3

A similar process can be repeated with vocabulary lists in Google Docs or Word documents. Users just need to make sure the term is written first and the definition is beside it, with one Tab in between the two.

Once the list is completed, users should scroll back to the top of the list and select “Play Flashcard Factory” in the top right corner of the website. Users will need to make sure they are connected to a projector in their classroom or that the students can see the screen in some way. Pear Deck will generate a code for students to use to enter the game. Students will access the game via joinpd.com. They will have to select their school email account to provide the game with their name and will then be prompted to insert the unique game code.

sisUOKJiQ0OVmmcftTOJbLA

While students are waiting for all of their classmates to sign in, they can review the directions of the assignment. “Clock in!” should be selected by the teacher once all students have joined the game. The game will automatically set up partners and split the class into two teams: Day Shift and Night Shift. The partner aspect adds teamwork and collaboration to the experience while the two teams ignite friendly competition and increase motivation. When ready, the teacher will select “Let’s Play.”

On the student end, they will receive their terms with their partner. One partner will be responsible for drawing an image to reflect the term and the other will write a sentence for the term. These responsibilities shift between terms, so partners get an equal chance to both draw and write. A variety of colors are available to make the images more impactful. In the collaborative spirit, the partners can review each other’s work and provide feedback prior to submitting it to the teacher.

sxZHGWnUApt7GmNfiXaSUMA

The completed cards move across the conveyor belt on the screen. All the teams can see these cards as long as the teacher has connected their laptop to their board. Students continue the process until all of the terms on the vocabulary list have been completed.

Then the teacher moves to the next phase, “Quality Control.” This step can be completed with the class or by the teacher independently. All of the flashcards will be reviewed and either given a seal of approval or a stamp of rejection. Approval means the sentence and image accurately reflect the vocabulary term and definition, while rejection means they did not. To add a game element to the activity, Pear Deck keeps track of how many approvals each team gets. If a card is approved, a point is awarded to the team that created it.

sx0dabcilFr9QHHWhNDp5xw

While it is recommended that the teacher has the final say in which terms get approved, it can be interactive to allow the class to contribute to this discussion. The members of the class can discuss whether the sentence and image appropriately represent the term and would be beneficial in helping the students actually understand the term.

Once the approval and denial process is complete, the final phase is “Shipping.” Teachers have the option to export their list to Quizlet so students can continue to use the cards they made. Clicking “Export to Quizlet” will bring up a directions screen for the teacher. The set of flashcards must be named and a password-protection option for the set is optional, so only students in the class with the password can access the resource. Once the directions are completed, the teacher received the URL for the flashcards and has the option to immediately share the link with students in Google Classroom. If teachers do not use Google Classroom, they can simply share the link to the Quizlet with their students. Each of the Quizlet terms includes the vocabulary word, the teacher-added definition from the Pear Deck list, and the approved example and image from the students.

pasted image 0

Pear Deck’s Vocabulary & Flashcard Factory is an engaging, collaborative activity for all grade levels that can both inspire students to practice and apply their knowledge of vocabulary terms and give them a self-created resource to use to practice.

New Jersey Council of Teachers of English, the New Jersey state affiliate of NCTE, the National Council of Teachers of English

Tech Tuesdays: Engaging Students in Vocabulary with Pear Deck

Summer Professional Development Opportunity

We are sharing the following as an opportunity that might interest NJCTE members and other NJ educators.

NJAMLE is offering three half-day morning PD sessions this summer in the north central, and southern part of NJ. Middle level teachers and administrators from all disciplines will have the opportunity to learn from some of the best middle level educators who will share their best practices. In addition to workshops sponsored by NJ Literacy Association,  NJ Future Ready Schools, and NJ Schools to Watch, teaching tips, strategies, and resources will be explored in the areas of coding digital literacy, student choice, differentiation, and more. In addition, NJCTE Board Member Joe Pizzo will share his 44 years of classroom experience as he demonstrates various methods to blend fun with the fundamentals in ELA classrooms through cross-curricular and skill-specific activities.  Learn, connect, and share this summer with other Middle Level educators. Come spend the morning discussing hot Middle School topics such as:

  • NJ Literacy Association
  • NJ Future Ready Schools
  • NJ Schools to Watch
  • Google Tools & Tricks
  • Computational Thinking & Coding
  • The Student-Centered Classroom
  • Math Instruction in the Middle
  • Formative Assessment Strategies
  • Digital Literacy & Connected Reading
  • Improving Literacy with Text Sets
  • Empowering the Struggling Learner
  • Student Choice through PBL
  • Integrating STEM Throughout the Curriculum
  • Positive Behavior Supports in School (PBSIS)
  • Technology Integration & Application Ideas
  • Differentiation Strategies that Work

These workshops will be held throughout New Jersey during July and August. There is no cost for NJAMLE individual members, for faculty at a school that has a membership, and for pre-service teachers. Non-members will be charged $20. For more information, go to http://njamle.org/summerskills.

New Jersey Council of Teachers of English, the New Jersey state affiliate of NCTE, the National Council of Teachers of English

Summer Professional Development Opportunity

Office Hours: Dr. Patricia L. Schall Is In

June 12, 2018

Dear Doc,

What should I do if a parent or other member of the community objects to a book I am teaching?

Sincerely,

An Inquiring Educator Feeling Challenged

Dear Challenged,

Ah, objecting to books is a surprisingly common dilemma! Many teachers assume challenges to books happen somewhere in a dark and dismal place far, far away; but they are more frequent than you might think, even in what we assume are progressive areas to live and work. The prevalence of challenges led me to teach a whole segment on censorship in my literacy education college courses at the undergraduate and graduate levels.

To prepare for a challenge, I would first advise you to check your school policy manual for guidance. I served two terms on a board of education and was on the committee that revised an older manual, which had a policy on challenges to classroom and library books. I suggested that in the revised manual, we include challenges to pedagogy too, since that happens as well.

My guess is that your school policy manual will contain a policy with procedures to follow. It is always best to know what has been approved for your school and follow the guidelines. Good policy books will include or tell you where you can locate actual forms (sometimes called “reconsideration” forms) for challengers to use when they object to books, materials, or methods. Often the process of completing the forms will slow down or halt the challenge. Still, viewed in a more positive light, these forms could create an opportunity for genuine dialogue, a chance to listen to what is bothering the challenger. Many times challenges are not based on reason, and discussions fail to be productive. Still, they initiate an opportunity for talking and listening that can be enlightening for both parties, and you can be confident that a democratic process has been followed. Be sure to write a brief report on any meeting you have with a challenger. The report, shared with the challenger, will be useful if he or she persists.

Second, once you familiarize yourself with your school policy, be sure to report the problem to your supervisor to avoid surprises. Parents and community members often like to run the problem up the flag pole and hit school leaders and board members before they even have a conversation with the teacher. Ask for guidance from your administrators. Before you meet with the challenger, I would recommend that you invite a colleague or supervisor sit in on the meeting. A witness is necessary.

Third, and in many ways this recommendation is foundational to all the others, since it addresses what should be done before any challenges occur, and that is to have written rationales for every book in your curriculum. I would also have rationales for pedagogy, since some teaching strategies could seem alien to parents who never experienced them in school. You want to be transparent about the decisions you make for your classroom.

The rationales can be succinct, and there are plenty of models and other resources available from professional organizations like NCTE and the American Library Association. Your school librarian can serve as a knowledgeable resource and partner for you if a challenge ensues.

It is wise to have rationales in place prior to teaching a book or trying a new strategy. Don’t assume that a book is too old or established for controversies. Some of the same books appear on censorship “hit lists” year after year, and they include classics of adult and young adult fiction like Of Mice and Men, Huckleberry Finn, To Kill a Mockingbird, and The Giver. When I was teaching high school, a student objected to reading The Grapes of Wrath on religious grounds. We had a private, honest talk about it, and we resolved her objection, though challenges can persist and defy easy solutions.

In addition to writing rationales, some teachers organize book clubs and other reading-themed events for parents and community members. These activities encourage participants to read, and they give them an opportunity to discuss books students are reading and enjoying. Some of these reading activities could be done online or in person, but I recommend holding at least some of the meetings in person because gatherings of this nature can promote community esprit de corps and support family literacy. Reading clubs or events are especially helpful when you plan to introduce a new book into your curriculum. In fact, you could demonstrate new teaching techniques in the same kind of format. Elementary school teachers have more typically hosted events of this nature, but they could be adapted to middle schools and high schools too.

P-12 teachers might be surprised that challenges to reading could even occur at the college level, though academic freedom is more widely recognized and observed at the post-secondary level. As a college professor, I once received a call from a parent who complained about books his daughter was reading in English courses—too many titles about under-represented groups, especially those addressing LGBTQ issues. We discussed the purpose of the readings and their role in preparing his daughter to teach in a diverse world. We chatted about the role of books as “mirrors and windows,” giving readers insights into themselves and others. I don’t think I convinced him, but we had a civil discussion and the complaint stopped at my desk. No calls to the dean!

Classroom libraries, which I highly recommend to promote independent and small-group reading, can become a concern too. Remember, books and materials that constitute a formal part of your curriculum must be reviewed and approved by the board of education. The books in a classroom library are not necessarily part of the board-approved curriculum, so they pose a greater legal risk for you. Know what is on your shelves, and be prepared with rationales for the titles and an explanation for how you use them. Even if you do not have a rationale for every book in your classroom library, you should be familiar with each book and have a general rationale for maintaining a classroom library so parents and community members understand how you use these books to promote lifelong reading for information and pleasure.

While writing rationales sounds like a lot of work, it could be a great opportunity to meet with colleagues to discuss what you do and why you are doing it. Articulating your professional choices provides an opportunity to reflect on your practice. Try to view the collaborative work positively as a professional experience. Perhaps you could even use time allotted for professional development for this purpose. Invite your administrators to some of these sessions so you keep them in the loop and so they too are prepared to deal with challenges if they occur.

Finally, recognize that you are not alone if you experience a challenge. If you have prepared well for challenges, you should be able to count on the support of your colleagues and school leaders. Furthermore, your professional organizations, like NCTE can help. Remember too, that if your school has well-defined policies and you adhere to them, if the challenge ever went to court, you and your school would win. Courts do not typically intervene in curriculum matters.

I hope this advice helps, and feel free to contact us at NJCTE if you experience a challenge. We are your state NCTE affiliate and are here to help.

I invite our blog readers to contribute their tips and experiences with challenges in the comments section of this blog post.

Professionally yours,

Doc

New Jersey Council of Teachers of English, the New Jersey state affiliate of NCTE, the National Council of Teachers of English

Office Hours: Dr. Patricia L. Schall Is In

NJCTE Board Member Susan Chenelle Receives NCTE 2018 High School Teacher of Excellence Award

NJCTE is thrilled to announce that the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) has awarded the 2018 High School Teacher of Excellence Award to Susan Chenelle from University Academy Charter High School in Jersey City, New Jersey. Chenelle is one of 14 high school teachers nationwide honored by NCTE this year.

Established in 2001 by the NCTE Secondary Section, this award recognizes and celebrates high school classroom teachers who demonstrate excellent practices and contributions in the classroom. Chenelle will be recognized as a recipient of the NCTE High School Teacher of Excellence Award at the Secondary Section Luncheon on Saturday, November 17, during the 2018 NCTE Annual Convention in Houston, Texas. For more information about the NCTE High School Teacher of Excellence Award, including past winners, see http://www2.ncte.org/high-school-teacher-of-excellence-affiliate-award.

Chenelle is currently Supervisor of Curriculum and Instruction at University Academy Charter High School in Jersey City, New Jersey, where she taught English and journalism for several years. She is the co-author of the Using Informational Text to Teach Literature series from Rowman & Littlefield with Audrey Fisch, with whom she has presented about informational text and cross-disciplinary collaboration at schools around New Jersey and conferences across the country. She earned her master’s degree in urban education from New Jersey City University, and she is now pursuing a doctoral degree at Montclair State University in Teacher Education and Teacher Development. Chenelle was the recipient of NJCTE’s 2017 Educator of the Year Award and currently serves on the NJCTE board.

For more information about NJCTE’s Educator of the Year Award, please see https://www.njcte.com/teacher-awards/. We highly encourage English educators in New Jersey to nominate their colleagues for this award and to consider nominating early career and pre-service teachers for the M. Jerry Weiss Early Career Teacher Award and the Marcia Holtzman Pre-Service Teacher Award. Help us honor the excellent work of our colleagues in the field!

New Jersey Council of Teachers of English, the New Jersey state affiliate of NCTE, the National Council of Teachers of English

NJCTE Board Member Susan Chenelle Receives NCTE 2018 High School Teacher of Excellence Award

Tech Tuesdays: SAS Writing Reviser

I have offered different tools in past weeks that can help students with the revision and editing parts of the writing process. SAS Writing Reviser is another tool to further help students in these areas. Like other technology tools, it can be beneficial for teachers to present a variety of options and have the students select the one that is best for them.

SAS Writing Reviser, a Google Docs add-on, is a free resource from Curriculum Pathways. Once the add-on has been added from the Chrome Web Store, users need to open their Google Doc and select “Add-ons” from the toolbar. Click “SAS Writing Reviser” and then “Open Writing Reviser” in order to activate the tool. The first time around, users will be prompted to create an account and select their role in the classroom: student or teacher.

SAS

After the add-on has been activated and the account has been created, users are met with five areas to edit their writing: Sentence Economy, Sentence Variety, Sentence Power, Sentence Clarity, and Support Tools. Each area has subcategories that users can choose. Sentence Economy focuses on making the writing more economical while Sentence Variety focuses on how to mix up sentences to make writing more interesting. Sentence Power emphasizes strong word choice and Sentence Clarity works on making sure all the writing is understandable. The Support Tools focus on the statistics of the document, such as statistics, bar graphs, and a sentence list. When selected, the add-on will run through the Google Doc and highlight areas of concern.

For example, if a user is making revisions to their work and wanted to find a way to make their writing more concise, they would select the “Sentence Economy” tab on the add-on. They would be prompted to choose from several subcategories, including wordiness, prepositional phrases, passive voice, relative clauses, and repeated words. The user would then click on the subcategory that best fits their needs. The add-on would go through the Doc, searching for evidence of each subcategory. Once finished, all of the evidence would be highlighted in blue. In the case of prepositional phrases, the add-on would turn any prepositional phrases blue so the user could see them easily against the rest of their text.

SAS2

In addition to the add-on automatically highlighting the area selected by the user, it also provides guidelines for how to properly edit their work. For most of the subcategories, a blue button can be found near the top of the sidebar. When clicked, it provides students with an explanation of the category to enhance their understanding or help them review concepts. In this example, guidelines for strong and weak verbs can be found. Users will receive a popup window with this information when they click the blue button in the sidebar to learn more about that revision area.

pasted image 0

In some cases, such as the “Strong Verbs” category, users get to read different examples in order to properly revise their own writing. In other cases, strategies for revision can be provided. In the instance of “Run-On Sentences,” among other categories, users will receive a breakdown of how to grammatically fix their errors.

SAS4

In addition to the blue button, users receive a set of directions to make the revision process easier and help guide them through the steps. There are a series of questions for users to ask themselves when making revisions. They can choose to leave their sentences as they were originally written or go into their paragraphs to make corrections.

sNb_kRhh5-Q2lVgugEujKRg

Once the user has made all of their revisions for the subcategory, they need to select the “Back” button on the sidebar. This selection will bring the user back to the main page with the five main areas. It will also remove all the blue highlighting while still maintaining the edits made.

SAS3

With five areas of focus and twenty-five subcategories to consider, SAS Writing Reviser is definitely an add-on to give to students for the revising and editing process. The fact that it allows students to consider one area of revision at a time helps with focus, which people often lack when fixing their writing. In addition, the built-in support system that provides students with mini-lessons, review opportunities, and questions to consider when revising makes the add-on very user-friendly and helpful for all learners.

Tech Tuesdays: SAS Writing Reviser