InfoWriter is a "Web 2.0" writing and formative assessment tool that transforms middle-school students’ experience of writing informational/explanatory texts in English Language Arts, History/Social Studies, Science and Technical Subjects, as specified by the Common Core State Standards for grades 4-12. It combines two educational functions, not previously brought together in the one learning software environment: a) an online concept or information mapping tool that highlights the thinking underlying student writing or exemplar reading texts, and b) use of these info maps for the purposes of learner feedback and formative assessment of writing and subject knowledge represented in writing. Students can use InfoWriter to highlight sections of a text, drawing maps based on the underlying reasoning of the texts. InfoWriter can be used both for close reading of exemplar texts, and critical reflection on their own or peers’ texts. In this project, we developed a prototype using cutting-edge "concept/semantic mapping" techniques. The prototype was successfully trialed with 246 students in 10 classes, with 6 teachers in 3 schools.

This research has been supported by the Small Business and Innovation Research Program (SBIR), Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education, through Grant ED-IES-13-C-0039 to Common Ground Publishing

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