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Students hone writing skills during technology based learning activity
On a recently April afternoon, Unadilla Valley English teacher Suzanne Cleveland walked around the school’s computer lab and guided sixth grade students through an online exercise using commas.

A majority of the students stared intently at the screen, their attention fixed to one of five exercises. Cleveland is using a software tool called IXL, which provides homework exercises aligned with the Common Core, to not only keep students’ engaged, but to help them with the foundations of English. Also, according to the website, IXL automatically tracks student progress and displays proficiency scores, which allows teachers to evaluate student aptitude and identify trouble spots.

“We find that technology based learning makes English usage and review a little more engaging,” Cleveland said. “The students really seem to like this, and it reinforces their punctuation and grammar skills.”

Using IXL, students will engage in exercises about prefixes, contractions, sentence fragments, multiple meaning words, capitalization, figures of speech, pronouns and much more. The site actually offers more than 120 exercises in ELA for sixth grade students.

Taylor Chumbler said she never really used commas until she started with the lessons, and the whole process has helped her in other classes.

“I write a lot in my other classes and this has helped me with essays in social studies,” she said. “I know where to put commas now. This has made me a stronger writer.”

Alyssa Roser agrees.

“Before this, I never used commas. Now I do and it has helped my writing a lot,” she said.
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