A tech blog — helping students write better and think creatively

Today, is a quick post about some of the teacher-assist websites out there that I am going to try this semester.  At the end of the semester, I will write a follow-up and let you know how it went.


The purpose of this site is to facilitate grading based on a question of the paper’s originality.  This is intended to catch deliberate plagiarism and accidental or careless paraphrasing, while improving citation practices.  I plan on using this for my students’ first drafts on their final projects.  The site also has a built-in peer review program, but I’ve decided to use the site below and assign the peer-review project for the second draft.

For the time-being, I am using the two separate sites to help keep the drafts separate in my mind and because I want to play with both before I commit to one or the other.  If you are a fan of paperless or paper-minimal, the site appears to work with you because one simply uploads the papers and the site does its thing.  It also has a grading feature, which I am a little loathe to use–maybe if I was teaching larger numbers and no TA I would consider it, but it seems like a cop-out and I don’t see how it saves you time grading on content.


At the University of Pittsburgh (archrival to my hometown school, WVU . . . but, we’ll let that pass), a website has been developed for peer-review facilitation.  SWoRD is short for “Scaffolded Writing and Reviewing in the Discipline” and was constructed by a multi-discipline team to set up a platform for peer-review projects.  The site conveniently supplies professional papers that have been written to ascertain the value of such a program.

My intent is to use this program for the final paper project after they have submitted a rough draft to me for content and originality (see above section), this will be the second draft before the final submission.  Following the site’s advice, the reviewing by the other students will be graded, as well.  Wisely, the instructor creates the rubric.

As someone who always tries to teach history as authentically as possible–not just content, but the field–I like the idea that the students are engaging the project on the same level and by the same methods as the pros do.  Also, I am a believer that being forced to read someone else’s writing improves one’s own reading and writing skills.


So, I stole this from History Tech (who it looks like snagged it from someone else), but I definitely plan on using this as extra credit or an in-class assignment!!  MyFakeWall.com creates a fake FaceBook wall, which offers some great possibilities to one’s teaching repertoire–particularly for us historians!  While there is a lot of stupid.. er.. I mean “fun” stuff on the website (which can be distracting), there is also already some fun history content stuff on their–so, don’t let your students steal any of it!  One good example is Martin Luther’s Wall.

I think there are a lot of good opportunities, here!


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Filed under Experiences, Experiencing History - Project Based Learning

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