More than 70% of special needs students engaged when Paragraph Punch was used to teach writing skills online
More than seventy percent of students in a Minnesota high school’s special needs English class were engaged by remote learning when using Paragraph Punch online during Covid-19.
Paragraph Punch is a well-established ed-tech program that guides students through the writing process online. The developer of Paragraph Punch, Merit Software, offered educators free pilots to use with their students in response to Covid-19 school closures. Merit’s internal research team reviewed the work of the Minnesota high school class to report these findings.
School administrators are wise to question the value instruction during Covid-19, as well as to consider how to incorporate online learning in the future. The results outlined in the report indicate online learning tools can serve a useful purpose.
The teacher at the Minnesota high school learned about Paragraph Punch while searching online for help teaching online paragraph writing. Teaching writing online, the teacher commented, was extremely difficult for her to do via remote instruction.
Paragraph Punch guides students through the writing process. The program is offered in two formats. One is a free web site version without tracking. The other version is a web-application with tracking and extra content. In both cases, built-in hints and tips support students while they work. With the web-application writing is stored, at various stages of development. Basic measures such as time-on-task and dates of access are saved.
All class students were given a login to the Paragraph Punch web-application. The students accessed Paragraph Punch for the final 4 weeks of the school year. The teacher learned to use Paragraph Punch and the student-tracking system without any special training.
A review of student writing and data collected during the pilot (N=18) showed seventy-one percent of the class produced meaningful and effortful work using Paragraph Punch. Sixty-one percent of the class persistently accessed the program throughout the 4-week pilot. Fifty-six of students wrote proficiently using Paragraph Punch. Using a measure that combines engagement, persistence, and proficiency, more than sixty-one percent of students were engaged and proficient, proficient and persistent, or engaged, proficient, and persistent.
A summary of this case study may be found at https://meritsoftware.com/paragraph-punch-covid-19. The full report is available upon request. Pre-Covid-19, other Merit English Language Arts products have shown to be effective supplemental teaching tools. Information about other studies may be found at https://meritsoftware.com/research
About Merit Software
Since 1983, Merit Software has been producing educational software that addresses the core competencies that students need to succeed with a focus on strengthening reading and communication skills. Merit Software’s innovative learning programs include context-sensitive tutorials providing real-world student instruction and convenient records management features to aid teachers, tutors, parents, and self-learners. Visit https://meritsoftware.com to learn more.