It’s an excellent resource, particularly for a free tool, and I believe it could be highly beneficial for the classroom.
This will give you a quick look at what activities look like from the student side. The goal of Quill Connect is to help students begin combining sentences in ways that are logical and aren’t run-ons, but still represent complex ideas. By the end of Quill’s activity packs, the aim is to have students able to write a 20-30 word complex sentence, combining multiple issues, using commas correctly, and articulating complex ideas through their writing.
There are examples for every grade level, but the sample activity will start you out at the elementary level. I’d also recommend trying out some wrong answers first, so you can get an idea of the type of differentiated feedback that is offered depending on how you answer the question.
That’s the basic idea of the types of activities students will be working on, and the difficulty and feedback progresses as students move through different levels.
The next place to check out (and probably the first place teachers would go when implementing Quill) would be the Diagnostic Report. Teachers can send this 22 question diagnostic out to students in order to see where they’re at in terms of sentence construction. Based on students’ performance, you can decide which activity packs you want to assign out to them.
The next place to check out would be quill.org/demo. From here, you can see an example of the type of analytics and reports you can see as a teacher. Quill does offer a premium plan, where you can get your reports aligned to the CCSS, but even at the free level, these reports are incredibly helpful in determining where your students are at in terms of writing and grammar.
Finally, you’ve got the Quill Proofreader and Quill Grammar activities. These activity sets give students a space to practice their proofreading by finding spelling, punctuation, and grammatical errors throughout a variety of reading passages. You can also give these a try on the homepage by clicking Try a Sample Activity under either of the sections.
While all of these activities are excellent (particularly given that they’re free), it’s the philosophy behind Quill that I appreciate the most. Quill was founded as a nonprofit with the singular goal of helping struggling writers, particularly in low-income schools, improve their writing abilities. As so much of successful communication depends on writing, I couldn’t agree more with their mission.
The team is dedicated to Quill’s resources always remaining completely free for teachers and students, and they do offer funding through their various partnerships for low-income schools who are interested in the premier plan. Schools that are interested can send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more.
Overall, Quill is an excellent resource that makes good use of technology’s ability to provide instant, formative feedback. For a teacher to grade and provide feedback on every student's sentence writing, a significant amount of time is always needed. Through Quill, teachers can see exactly where their students are struggling, and provide individualized feedback while leaving the more generic formative feedback aspect to Quill.
Additionally, Quill allows students to explore different possibilities when writing. The examples I tested out allowed for multiple solutions, and then explained those different potential solutions to students afterwards, which was one of my favorite features.
Updates for 2018
Throughout Quill Lessons, students can respond to interactive writing prompts to practice their skills. Quill Lessons enables teachers to model responses, share selected student responses with the class, and facilitate conversations. After each Quill Lesson, there is a follow-up activity in which students can reinforce the skills and knowledge learned in the Lesson.
One component of Lessons to highlight is the Intervention feature. As teachers receive student submissions, they can privately flag the responses of students who require additional support. At the end of the Lesson, teachers can see all flagged students and pull them aside to provide clarification, additional practice opportunities, and further feedback on their answers.
Quill now provides 45 lessons, and we will be launching hundreds of new activities over the coming year for their users.
The opinions expressed in this review are my own.
I was not compensated for writing this review.