CONTENT IN CONTEXT: NoRedInk’s online grammar exercises are now no longer limited to single sentences. After all, says Jeff Scheur, CEO of the San Francisco-based startup, standalone sentences, devoid of context, do not reflect the real-world reading comprehension skills that kids and adults need.
Last week, the startup released a new feature that lets students practice their writing chops in long-form passages. The new multi-paragraph exercises allow them to work on punctuation, spelling and other grammar mechanics as they practice reading comprehension at the same time.
In writing instruction, “there’s a void between writing papers and doing multiple-choice questions,” Scheur tells EdSurge. These new exercises, he says, “bridge that gap and help students work on different skills simultaneously in a way that reflects a deeper understanding of how grammar works in context.”
The questions in these long-form passages are scaffolded according to each student’s skill level and “learning pathway” as set by the teacher. NoRedInk currently offers exercises for 53 learning pathways for students in grades 4 to 12. By the fall, there will be 80 multi-paragraph passages that cover 30 of those pathways.
These new exercises allow students to “practice discrete grammar skills in the form of a passage,” Dawn Smith, English Language Arts Coordinator for St. Joseph School District in Missouri, tells EdSurge. Moreover, these questions are similar to the language arts questions on the SAT, SmarterBalanced and other standardized tests. NoRedInk “combines both the individual grammar exercises with the kinds of contextual questions that students will find on those tests,” Smith adds.
NoRedInk, which launched in 2012 with a set of free online grammar tools, now offers a school site license for premium features—including multi-passage exercises and data integration—for $7,500 per year. There’s also a per-student rate for smaller implementations.