Today’s post is for everyone who will be spending the next few weeks wading through final papers. We’ve written before about best practices for turning in a paper, in which we covered key questions to ask before you decide you’re totally done. Now we’re going to focus on digital helpers to keep your prose squeaky clean.
The three tools we’re highlighting today are designed to improve student writing and grammar skills or flag potential errors in text. We’ve given them a test drive here at Chalkup and really liked what we saw. May these tools improve your paper-writing.
Hone Your Writing Skills: Quill
First up is Quill. This nonprofit organization creates and houses free content to improve student grammar and writing. It’s totally free and currently has over 100,000 K-12 students partaking in their Common Core-friendly proofreading and grammar exercises.
Activities are in the 10-minute ballpark (we like that) and comes with a teacher dashboard to show educators how students are progressing.
By the numbers, Quill has 150+ activities developed from 42 Common Core standards. And according to our friends at Quill, “Some of our most popular activities include comma usage, capitalization, verb tense agreement, and commonly confused words.” Nifty.
Practice and Improve Your Tone: Hemingway Editor
If you’ve gotten your Quill practice out of the way and it’s time to actually write the paper, this web editor is ideal for refining the sound of your writing. Write or copy/paste your text into the Hemingway platform (nothing to download here - you can do this all in your browser) and you’ll get some suggestions.
The goal of Hemingway is to write sentences that are “bold and clear.” The platform highlights passive voice, sentences that are long or hard to read, and flags words unnecessary to your sentence. With Hemingway’s help and a little tweaking, it’s possible to improve paragraphs that are bogged down with superfluous language.
Get a Second Pair of Eyes: Grammarly
You’ve practiced. Your sentences sound good. Now the last step is to eradicate those typos that snuck in during your editing process. Grammarly is good for that.
Grammarly is free and boosts the ability to correct 250 types of mistakes. We played around with the platform, and the real reason it’s worth trying for student papers is that it catches errors our standard word processors just didn’t. (For example, using a word in the wrong context or making a typo that actually spells another word.)
Overall, if it’s just a true copyedit you need to ensure your i’s are dotted and t’s are crossed, this tool is a solid choice.
Bonus Round - Seek Feedback: Peer Editing
These platforms are outstanding tools for improving your writing and catching small errors before turning in your work. But when it comes to the content of your paper - your ideas, your thesis statement - there is no substitution for feedback from a peer or instructor.
Gotta give a shout-out to peer editing here. If you have the ability to work in an editing session with a classmate, we can’t recommend it enough. You’ll find some peer editing tips in the link above.