Constructor Lab
Leadership Summit
Edtech Advocacy &
Policy Summit

Improving Student Writing With a Free Microsoft Add-in

Participate and share

Participate and share : Poster

Tuesday, June 25, 4:00–6:00 pm
Location: Posters: Level 4, Terrace Ballroom Lobby, Table 10

Terry Hardison  
Among the millions of Microsoft Office users are students who increasingly rely on add-ins to create essays, lab reports, blog posts and other forms of communication. Come discover the free Writing Reviser add-in, a tool that helps students using Microsoft improve any type of writing.

Audience: Curriculum/district specialists, Teachers, Principals/head teachers
Skill level: Beginner
Attendee devices: Devices not needed
Focus: Digital age teaching & learning
Topic: Online tools, apps and resources
Grade level: 6-12
Subject area: Language arts
ISTE Standards: For Students:
Creative Communicator
  • Students choose the appropriate platforms and tools for meeting the desired objectives of their creation or communication.
Empowered Learner
  • Students use technology to seek feedback that informs and improves their practice and to demonstrate their learning in a variety of ways.
For Educators:
  • Model and nurture creativity and creative expression to communicate ideas, knowledge or connections.
Disclosure: The submitter of this session has been supported by a company whose product is being included in the session

Proposal summary

Purpose & objective

In this session, teachers will be introduced to an innovative tool that can help students become more effective, sophisticated writers. The newly developed Writing Reviser add-in is designed for Microsoft Office users who complete writing tasks. I will demonstrate this add-in, describe best practices for integrating it in a variety of educational settings, and give participants the opportunity to use the tool—just as students would: using feedback to make sentences more economical, varied, powerful, and clear.
By attending this session, participants will learn how to use the add-in to
• Provide instruction in revision skills in a variety of contexts
• Help students make decisions about their writing based on personalized feedback
• Encourage writing in a variety of rhetorical patterns
Having seen the add-in and having discussed its use, participants will be able to use the add-in to
• Differentiate instruction for writers from a wide range of abilities
• Formulate best practices for integration of the add-in into instruction
Writing Reviser add-in was developed from Writing Reviser, one of the four web-based tools that make up Curriculum Pathways® Writing Navigator. These tools support students through the entire writing process—planning, drafting, revising, and publishing.

I. Demonstration
A. Explain how to access the Writing Reviser add-in
B. Show the main features of the add-on

II. Hands-on Exploration (participant choice)
A. Create free accounts
B. Use the Writing Reviser Add-in to revise a first draft (provided), focusing on sentence effectiveness and word choice

III. Reporting Out – Participants report out to the larger group to share discoveries, offer suggestions, and ask for input.
IV. Conclusion
A. Address outstanding questions
B. Discuss best practices for classroom integration
C. Point out available support materials and professional development opportunities

Supporting research

The following organizations/experts stress the importance of developing writing skills for students and/or the value of the tool (and the approach used within) that participants will explore during this session.
NCTE Professional Knowledge for the Teaching of Writing (2016)
The following beliefs address the conception of writing upon which the Writing Reviser (and its offshoot, the Writing Reviser add-in) was designed.
1. Composing occurs in different modalities and technologies
2. Conventions of finished and edited texts are an important dimension of the relationship between writers and readers.
3. Everyone has the capacity to write; writing can be taught; and teachers can help students become better writers.
4. Writing is a process.
5. Writing is a tool for thinking.
6. Assessment of writing involves complex, informed, human judgment.

National Writing Project (NWP)
Our priority was to create a set of tools designed to guide students through the writing process. Our starting point was the work begun in 1974 by 25 writing teachers who met at UC Berkeley to develop ideas that would improve writing instruction in area schools. That meeting quickly grew into the Bay Area Writing Project and then into the National Writing Project (, a nationwide, nonprofit organization that promotes K-16 teacher training programs. The Project serves more than 100, 000 teachers at approximately 200 sites and has worked with over 2 million teachers and administrators.
This organization promoted a five-stage approach to the writing process: Prewriting | Drafting | Revising | Editing | Publishing
Educators have emphasized that—because the tool focuses on the student's own work—the potential audience is extremely broad: "Writing Reviser has a strong potential to help students at all levels—from middle school through university-level composition classes. It is certainly the best computer-assisted writing program I have seen," says Dr. Michael Grimwood, Alumni Distinguished Professor of English at NC State University.
Dorianne Laux—director of the creative writing program at NC State University, author of five books of poetry, winner of a Guggenheim Fellowship—comments on what makes the product special: "Writing Reviser isn't just about surface details: this is right; that is wrong. No one learns to write effectively and memorably from a merely prescriptive, schoolmarm approach—a bunch of abstract Do's and Don'ts. This interactive product goes deeper than that. It prompts students to make creative decisions, to discover what they want to say, to reach for what Coleridge called 'the best words in the best order.'"
We have also designed specific lessons for Writing Reviser—providing guided instruction on both effective and ineffective texts to achieve targeted outcomes. As Stanley Fish notes in How to Write a Sentence (2011), these kinds of models can serve as "engines of creativity" and "vehicles of instruction." While we can't magically arrange a tutorial with a Jane Austen or a John Updike, our Writing Reviser lessons enable students to learn from such writers. Students can see and imitate how Mark Twain uses verbs, how Frederick Douglass varies sentence structure, or how dishonest politicians use passive verbs for misleading and ignoble ends. .............................

In the era of high-stakes testing, there is an emphasis on producing reliable, summative evaluations of students’ final writing product; however, research suggests valuable writing instruction lies in providing formative feedback throughout the writing process (Graham, Harris, & Hebert, 2011).
A good writer is one who has developed proficiency at each step—a proficiency that is developed through practice, strategy awareness, and informed guidance (Andrade, Du, & Wang, 2008; Schunk & Swartz, 2003).
A recent meta-analysis of writing instruction research from the Carnegie Corporation of New York (2011) suggests practitioners should “monitor students’ writing progress” and “teach students how to assess their own writing.”
Fish, S. (2011). How to Write a Sentence and How to Read One. New York: Harper Collins.
Graham, Harris, & Hebert. (2011). Informing Writing: The Benefits of Formative Assessment. A Carnegie Time to Act report. Washington, DC: Alliance for Excellent Education.
Schunk & Swartz. (1993). Goals and progress feedback: Effects of self-efficacy and writing achievement. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 18(3), 337-354).
Whithaus, C. (2005). Teaching and Evaluating Writing in the Age of Computers and High-Stakes Testing. Routledge.

More [+]


Terry Hardison, SAS Institute

People also viewed

Arts and Technology PLN Photo Walk
#DigiKeepers: Trapper Keepers Gone Digital
Lights, Camera, Action: Student Centered Learning In The Spotlight