Teaching grammar is kind of the worst. I’ve never come up with an engaging way to teach comma placement. I’m not quite sure how I learned it myself. I feel like I learned most of my grammar in 6th grade, when I had a charismatic teacher (Ellen Friedman) and an eagerness to learn anything.
NoRedInk is a new site that gives me some hope for my own students. It’s brand new, and I think there’s more to come with regard to writing instruction, but here are two things about it that I like:
1. The interface for changing punctuation and capitalization is super-intuitive. It makes so much sense that it’s surprising we haven’t seen more programs like this. Here’s a screencast of me playing with it.
2. As soon as you sign up, you get to choose some of your interests, and NoRedInk then uses your choices to generate the names for people in the sentences it gives you for quizzes. So, having clicked on things like hip hop and Harry Potter, you’ll see Jay-Z and Lucius Malfoy on your quiz. You can even enter in names of your friends or have the site pull names from your Facebook friends. To me, this is an ingenious little way to keep kids engaged in an otherwise dreadful affair.
Best part? It’s free right now.