Why use Writer’s Help?
Writer’s Help is an online writing resource that allows students to search for writing help using their own terminology. And it allows instructors to create assignments and see their students’ progress. Students can work on their own or using assignments that instructors create. In this tutorial, we'll take a look at the resources that are available for both students and instructors.
Getting started with Writer’s Help
From the Writer’s Help home page, users can begin either by entering a search term in the search box at the top left or by scrolling through the table of contents in the left-hand navigation bar.
Or students might begin with an assignment that instructors have created (see below in this tutorial and the Writer’s Help Instructor’s Manual for more on assignments).
How does search work?
The search feature in Writer’s Help allows users to search for help using handbook terminology or their own terminology. Users can get results for standard terms such as coordinating conjunction or prewriting or ellipsis mark as well as terms such as fanboys or get unstuck or dots.
After you enter a search term in the search box, search results will replace the table of contents at the left. Search results are arranged in clusters under boldface headings.
Expanding a cluster exposes related results. When you click on any result, you are taken to a page of content.
In the left-hand navigation bar, you can toggle between the search results and the table of contents.
How does the table of contents work?
The table of contents is organized like any book table of contents. Click on an arrow to drill down through sections.
What is Quick Help?
Quick Help pages, at the beginning of many sections, contain examples of correct and incorrect usage and provide links directly to the content of that section. Sometimes a few Quick Help examples are all students need to answer their question and get back to their writing. If they need more, the links on the Quick Help pages take them to more explanations and examples.
Navigating Writer’s Help
To navigate through pages of content, you can use the table of contents or the right and left arrows at the top right of any page. To move back through pages already viewed, you can use the browser back button or the right and left arrows at the top right of the page.
Many Writer’s Help pages contain links to other pages, allowing users to jump from one page to other, related pages with ease and to find connections throughout the e-book.
In addition, at the bottom of most pages, you will find links to pop-up windows containing tips, directories, examples of student writing, and more.
What other resources are available in Writer’s Help?
At the top of the table of contents, users can access three types of exercises: 8 diagnostic quizzes; 30 adaptive, game-like activities called LearningCurve; and 285 writing, research, and grammar exercises.
Eight diagnostics are available to help students and instructors identify areas of strength and areas for improvement on subtopics related to grammar and reading. Two comprehensive tests in each of four subjects, Sentence Grammar; Style, Punctuation, and Mechanics; Reading Skills; and Reading Strategies, allow instructors to assign diagnostics in a pre/post format.
LearningCurve is an online, adaptive, self-quizzing program that quickly learns what students already know and helps them practice what they don’t yet understand.
As an instructor, you can assign any of these (see below). Students can complete exercises on their own or from an assignment you create. Most exercises are autoscored. Students’ work reports to the gradebook for any assigned exercises. Work that students do on their own does not report to the gradebook.
Assignment modules and writing prompts
These resources are found at the bottom of the table of contents.
The 5 assignment modules are self-contained units providing instructional content, practice exercises, often a reading, and writing prompts, each focused on one topic: avoiding plagiarism, editing for concise writing, freewriting and listing, and using signal phrases (for APA and for MLA).
The 40 writing prompts invite students to write brief responses about topics such as organizing an essay, drafting a thesis statement, working with peers, integrating sources, and more. The prompts help students apply the lessons of the course to their own thinking and writing. Many of the prompts provide links to Writer’s Help pages for additional guidance, and some promote collaboration.
Sample student writing
Writer’s Help contains more than 40 sample student papers in MLA, APA, Chicago, and CSE styles in a number of different genres--narrative papers, analytical essays, research papers, and more. Most are annotated to show proper formatting and effective writing. In addition are numerous PDF documents that demonstrate correct formatting of all elements of papers in MLA, APA, Chicago, and CSE styles.
The sample papers are linked at the bottoms of pages in many sections and in Resources lists at the ends of chapters.
A full list of the sample papers and formatting samples can be found by viewing “Content by type” in the Resources panel.
Writer’s Help provides writing guides for five common genres--analysis essay, annotated bibliography, argument essay, literacy narrative, and reflective letter for a portfolio. Each writing guide consists of a definition of the genre; a list of its key features; a step-by-step set of strategies for exploring, drafting, and revising your work, with space for students to make and save notes for their own project. Each writing guide includes sample student writing in that genre.
What can I do as an instructor in Writer’s Help?
You can assign content, view your students’ progress in the gradebook, and upload your own content, including videos for student writing practice.
Activities or exercises that are assigned are accessible via the Assignments tab and also receive a “To Do” label and due date in the table of contents, letting students focus on what’s due next.
Easy to personalize
Writer’s Help is easy to personalize, too: Instructors can add and assign their own materials.
Writer’s Help 2.0, Hacker Version extends the handbook with interactive writing activities, scorable exercises, models that instruct, and convenience options for busy teachers.