Overview
How it Works
Summary Writing
Vocabulary
Essay Writing
System Requirements

 

Overview

Q. What is WriteToLearn™?
WriteToLearn is a complete online tool for building writing skills and developing reading comprehension. Using WriteToLearn, students develop a skill that good readers naturally possess - the ability to summarize what they read. They practice essay writing and summarizing and build both writing and reading comprehension skills across the curriculum. Select reading passages also include vocabulary enhancing activities.

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Q. What are the six traits of writing?
WriteToLearn is designed to check the following traits of writing:

  • Ideas — The concepts in the essay or summary are interesting, important and clearly expressed
  • Organization — The order of ideas and logic behind the writing
  • Conventions — The consistent use of proper grammar, spelling and punctuation
  • Sentence Fluency — The structure and flow of sentences
  • Word Choice — The selection of the right words to express the ideas
  • Voice — The personality of the writing and the way it feels to the reader, e.g. formal vs. casual

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Q. For an essay, how is the overall score derived?
The overall score is an average of the six traits' scores. Note that while WriteToLearn scores on a continuous score scale, only a whole point score is presented to the student.

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Q. What are the benefits of using WriteToLearn?

  • WriteToLearn gives students the opportunity to practice their writing. The only way to learn to write is to practice with informative feedback. The same goes for reading; the two are inseparable. Learn to read and you learn to write, learn to write and you learn to read. WriteToLearn provides the opportunity for students to practice both of these valuable skills, as well as vocabulary.
  • WriteToLearn is time efficient allowing teachers to assign many more writing and reading comprehension assignments to students without additional grading time.
  • WriteToLearn helps you focus your teaching. By observing students and using the Teacher Reports, you can discover both individual and class strengths and weaknesses to help guide teaching.
  • WriteToLearn is flexible and easy to use. Teacher tools allow teachers to set scoring thresholds, manage and evaluate student progress easily and adjust the class roster and make assignments.
  • WriteToLearn tutors students to improve subject knowledge< as well as reading comprehension, word knowledge and writing skills by providing detailed feedback on content.
  • WriteToLearn allows students to tackle more difficult reading assignments by boosting their understanding and performance through automated evaluation.

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Q. Which grade levels can use WriteToLearn?
WriteToLearn includes writing and reading comprehension activities that are appropriate for students in grades 4-12.

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Q. How can WriteToLearn be incorporated into the curriculum for all students?
WriteToLearn's built-in language tools include text-to-speech throughout the product, an embedded cross-language dictionary, spot word translation, and read aloud translated instructions and student feedback in both Spanish and Chinese, and are designed to help struggling readers, writers, and English language learners more rapidly.

WriteToLearn addresses the needs of a diverse set of learners with reading comprehension, writing, and vocabulary activities. Struggling readers and writers receive the help they need to understand and complete activities with built-in tools that simulate one-on-one tutoring. English language learners can translate instructions and feedback to Spanish and Chinese. And gifted students receive more practice in summarizing and writing than would be possible in classrooms without automated scoring tools.

WriteToLearn benefits all students, including:

  • Title I
  • Special Education (IDEA)
  • Response to Intervention
  • Learning disabled and at-risk learners
  • English language learners

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Q. What research has been conducted on WriteToLearn?
Significant research has been conducted examining both the Reading Comprehension and Essay Components of WriteToLearn. The Reading Comprehension Component has been demonstrated to significantly improve student-writing skills. The summaries of students who used the Reading Comprehension Component have been judged to be significantly superior in blind scoring by teachers than those of students who used a standard word processing program. These students also received higher reading and writing scores on the Colorado Student Assessment Program (CSAP) test. Pearson has also conducted extensive research on the reliability and validity of the Essay Component of WriteToLearn. The correlation between the scoring of this component and human graders has been shown to be as high or higher than that between two independent human graders in dozens of studies with over 200 prompts of every type. The correlation and agreement rates of the scores produced by the Essay Component are better the more expert and reliable the human scores. These scores have been shown to reflect progress in writing skills and knowledge as a result of instruction much more sensitively than human scores. For more information about the effectiveness of the WriteToLearn for students and teachers, we invite you to view our Efficacy Report.

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Q. How does WriteToLearn align to the Common Core Standards?
WriteToLearn supports the Common Core Standards for English language arts and literacy in history/social studies, science, and technical subjects. Its engaging and motivational environment makes students excited about practicing and refining their writing and reading comprehension skills. It places a strong emphasis on comprehension and analysis of information texts while building reading, writing, and vocabulary skills. WriteToLearn serves the needs of all students, and is proven to be especially beneficial for struggling readers, writers and English leaners. For more information about how WriteToLearn aligns with the Common Core Standards, we invite you to view the WriteToLearn Common Core State Standards Report.

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Q. How does WriteToLearn support English language learners?
WriteToLearn has several built-in language tools to support English language learners, including text-to-speech throughout the product, an embedded picture/text dictionary and spot word translation to Spanish. The entire tool is capable of translating instructions and student feedback in English, Spanish and Simplified Chinese. In addition, students can highlight main and supporting ideas as they read passages. Find samples of a few of these features at http://wtl.pearsonaps.com/hubfs/WTL/resources/WTL_ELL-sm.pdf.

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Q. What is Intelligent Essay Scorer (IEA) and how does it relate to WriteToLearn?
Intelligent Essay Assessor (IEA) is a Web-based service that automatically evaluates a student's writing skills and knowledge, providing scoring and diagnostic feedback to both the instructor and student. This automated scoring technology uses sophisticated linear algebraic models to analyze the meaning of written text at a deeper level than just key words or patterns. Research has shown that IEA produces scores that accurately match those of expert human readers. IEA can also be customized for your testing needs.

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How it Works

Q. How does WriteToLearn work?
WriteToLearn contains two components, reading summarization and an essay writing. Both components use the Knowledge Analysis Technologies (KAT) engine, a patented technology based on over twenty years of research and development. The KAT engine is based on the mathematical approach known as Latent Semantic Analysis (LSA), which provides a sophisticated computer analysis of text. The Reading Comprehension Component assesses the total content of a summary as well as the correlation between the summary content and that of the original reading passage. It compares the student's entire summary to each section of the assigned reading and returns feedback indicating how well the information in each section has been covered by the student's summary. The Essay Component assesses the total content of an essay as well as the correlation between the essay's content and that of training essays previously scored by expert human readers. The Essay Component assigns a score to each essay based in part on the similarity of the content of the essay to that of the training essays.

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Q. What is the KAT™ engine?
The KAT engine evaluates the meaning of text by examining whole passages. The KAT engine is based on Pearson's unique implementation of Latent Semantic Analysis, an approach that infers semantic similarity of words and passages by analyzing large bodies of relevant text. LSA can then understand the meaning of text in much the same way as a human reader.

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Q. Does WriteToLearn use keywords in its evaluation?
A common misconception is that WriteToLearn scores by recognizing keywords. It does not. If two or more different terms accurately describe a concept, WriteToLearn will recognize either or both and score them equally as well. For example, WriteToLearn measures "Understanding is very important when you read something you want to know about" as very similar in meaning to "Comprehending's essential" even though there are no literal words in common. Keyword based similarity would find nothing in common between these two sentences.

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Q. Are students required to type their responses directly into WriteToLearn?
Students may type their responses directly into WriteToLearn if they choose; however, many students choose to compose their responses in a word-processing program and then copy and paste them into the WriteToLearn interface.

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Q. How long does it take to score a response?
Most responses are scored within a few seconds. Keep in mind that a slow or directly busy Internet connection may delay the scoring.

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Summary Writing

Q. What type of feedback do students receive on their summaries?
Students receive feedback on their coverage of each section of the reading. Students also receive feedback on spelling, copying from the text, repetition and inclusion of unimportant information, as well as on the length of their summary. Feedback is displayed in a graphical report that motivates students to continue to improve their summaries. A sample student report is available at: http://www.writetolearn.net/experience.php

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Q. What is the Reading Comprehension Component of WriteToLearn?
Students summarize reading passages in their own words and the Reading Comprehension Component of WriteToLearn automatically compares the student's writing to the reading passage. The Reading Comprehension Component compares the student's writing to each of the sections of the text and provides immediate feedback about the content coverage of the summary on a section-by-section basis. Additional feedback on the more mechanical aspects of writing includes copying from the text, spelling, repetition and inclusion of unimportant information.

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Q. How many reading passages are available? What topics or subject areas are covered?
WriteToLearn includes nearly 1,000 reading passages. These reading passages cover subject areas ranging from language arts to history to science and social studies. Selected reading passages are from Prentice Hall's Science Explorer and World Studies textbooks. In addition, WriteToLearn contains selected high school level reading passages from Prentice Hall's widely adopted titles along with leveled readers from Scott Foresman's Reading Street™ program.

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Q. What is Pearson's Reading Maturity Metric?
One of the key requirements of the Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts is that students comprehend texts of steadily increasing complexity as they progress through school. In response to the Common Core requirement for a more accurate measure of text complexity than offered by standard readability formulas, Pearson's Knowledge Technologies researchers developed Reading Maturity Metric (RMM) based on empirically derived growth in individual word meanings. WriteToLearn includes Pearson's text complexity measure, the RMM offering 30 percent improvement over previous readability formulas. RMM has been added to our over 1,000 informational reading passages, along with Common Core State Standards' text complexity grade bands. This additional information is now available to teachers to help them select the most appropriate readings for their students using Common Core criteria. Learn more aboutReading Maturity Metric.

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Vocabulary

Q. What is the value of vocabulary as a literacy tool in WriteToLearn?
The literacy wheel consists of three spokes: reading comprehension, writing, and vocabulary. With the addition of adaptive vocabulary exercises within select reading passages, WriteToLearn offers a true literacy instruction tool that is accessible to students, teachers, and administrators anywhere they have access to the Internet. This tool builds upon the required interplay between reading and writing; it now helps students develop word knowledge, as well.

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Q. Where do we find the vocabulary exercises?
Vocabulary exercises can be found in select reading passages within the Summary Writing component of WriteToLearn.

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Essay Writing

Q. How does the Essay Component of WriteToLearn recognize a good essay?
The Essay Component, using the KAT engine, assesses the content of an essay, as well as more mechanical aspects of writing. When a student submits an essay for scoring, the system immediately measures the meaning of the essay. It then compares the essay to the training essays, looking for similarities and assigns a holistic score in part by placing the essay in a category with the most similar training essays. Analytic scoring occurs in much the same way. For each trait, the system assesses that trait in the student essay, compares it to the training essays, and then categorizes the trait in question.

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Q. How does the Essay Component scoring compare to the way teachers grade writing?
The Essay Component's approach mirrors the way that teachers grade essays. For example, when teachers evaluate a student's essay, they look for characteristics that identify an essay as an A or C paper. Their expectations are likely based on their previous experience as a grader and on criteria for the assignment in question. In other words, teachers search for a match between the essay itself and the criteria for a particular grade or score. The Essay Component is trained to mimic this process.

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Q. How does the Essay Component score essays with highly unusual writing styles?
An essay with a highly unique writing style or unusual construction may receive an advisory message along with a score. If an essay is off-topic, written in a language other than English, too brief or too repetitive, a written refusal to write, or otherwise incomprehensible, a student will receive an advisory that his or her essay cannot be scored. These advisory messages ask the student to discuss the essay and all feedback with his or her teacher to ensure an appropriate evaluation of the writing.

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Q. What type of feedback do students receive on their essays?
Students receive a variety of feedback on their essays, including a holistic score and analytic scores on different writing traits. Students also receive feedback on spelling, grammar and repetition, as well as length of their essays. A sample student report is available at: http://wtl.pearsonaps.com/how-it-works.

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System Requirements

Q. What are the system requirements for using WriteToLearn?
Teachers and school administrators can access assistance by clicking the Help link located in the upper right corner of their WriteToLearn pages. For additional support, please contact our customer support line at 1-800-234-5832 between the hours of 8:00 AM to 8:00 PM Eastern Time, Monday - Friday. Also, e-mail, chat, and other product support are available at http://support.pearsonschool.com.

WriteToLearn supports a variety of configurations. While other combinations of settings and software versions may also function, the following are the recommended configurations for optimal use:

Windows

  • Windows 7, Windows 8
  • 512 MB RAM (minimum)
  • Chrome; Microsoft Internet Explorer 10 (Compatibility View off) and 11; Firefox 36

Macintosh

  • OS X 10.9
  • 512 MB RAM (minimum)
  • Safari 7; Chrome

Other Devices/Tablets

  • iPad, iOS 7.x (limited functionality for Texthelp tools)
  • Android 4.2.2 with Chrome (limited functionality for Texthelp tools)
  • Chromebook (Chrome)

Additional Requirements

  • JavaScript enabled
  • Current version of QuickTime player (needed for some embedded content)

Bandwidth

  • If using the text-to-speech feature: 30 kbps (kilobits per second) per student required, 1024 kbps
    per class of 30 students recommended
  • If not using text-to-speech: 512 kbps per class of 30 students recommended

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Q. How do I contact Technical Support?
Documentation is available within the WriteToLearn application. If you require support, please contact our customer support line at 1-800-234-5832 between the hours of 8:00 AM to 8:00 PM Eastern Time, Monday — Friday. Also, e-mail, chat, and other product support are available at http://support.pearsonschool.com.

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