Tools for Supporting Student Writing

Brainstorming Tools

MindMeister: A visual mind-mapping tool that also can be used collaboratively for group projects. Available on a variety of devices and can also be used an alternative tool for making a presentation.

Research/Information Gathering Tools

Diigo: With this bookmarking site, students can gather all of their research for projects in one place, tag and categorize it, and annotate what they’ve stored. This is a great tool for instructors, too, as you can collect recommended sites for students to review all in one place and easily add to and update your library of resources.

Evernote: The ultimate note-taking, web clipping application works across all of your devices (smartphone, tablet, laptop, and on any web browser through the cloud).

Collaborative Writing Tools

Google Drive: Allows real-time collaboration, with real-time updating of the document. Can be used in a classroom setting where the instructor has a Google account even if students don’t to facilitate in-class activities, for example, building out a rubric collaboratively for how an upcoming assignment would be graded.

Penflip: Powerful collaborative writing tool with version control and tracking changes. Final version can be downloaded in a variety of formats for submission. Note: Projects made using the free version are publicly searchable, so for a group project, students may want to leave full names off when drafting.

…and for facilitating group work effectively:

Monitoring group work and much more on making groups work from Carnegie Mellon’s Eberly Center for Teaching Excellence and Educational Innovation

Helping students reflect on group work from the University of New South Wales Teaching Unit

Accountability and Time Management Tools

Tomato Timer: Uses the “pomodoro” method for productivity, breaking work time down into chunks with short breaks to encourage mental agility. Set the timer for a minimum amount of time to work without distractions. Helps students sit down and actually get work done!

Accountability/Progress Tracking Spreadsheet:  Easily create an accountability spreadsheet for your students to use when tackling a large project. Have them set deadlines for various parts of the progress, track words written and/or tasks accomplished, and have them complete a self-assessment on how well they managed the project. Click here to download a Word doc version that you can modify for your own class or writing!

Reference Management and Citation Assistance Tools

Zotero: Collect all your research in a single, searchable interface and then easily import citations into word processors — Zotero supports thousands of different citation styles.

Mendeley: Store all your research across a variety of devices, annotate readings, and import citations as you write.

RefWorks: Available to NC State users and alumni; works with our database subscriptions and can import citations easily into word processors.

NC State Citation Builder: Open for use by anyone, just plug in the required information and it will build a citation in MLA, APA, Chicago, or CSE.

EasyBib: Another citation builder that builds citations for the standard citation styles (MLA, APA, Chicago, etc.) as well as some additional ones the NC State Citation Builder does not.

Editing Tools & Resources

Purdue OWL: Purdue’s Online Writing Lab is one of the best-known resources for academic writing and editing guidance. Notable sections: On Paragraphs, Mechanics (including exercises for spelling, punctuation, grammar, and more), MLA and APA Style, Establishing Arguments, and Conciseness.

Hemingway App: A powerful desktop app that helps writers to see potential issues in their writing through helpful color coding of dense sentences, grammar and punctuation mistakes, and more.

After the Deadline: Have students paste in text and get feedback on lower order concerns in their writing, such as spelling errors and grammar issues. The tool also provides a brief explanation as to why the suggested change is a better choice, helping students improve their understanding of lower order concerns at the same time.