What’s in a NoRedInk Module?

Product shots of the four key components of NoRedInk's learning modules

NoRedInk Modules make it easy for English teachers to find and assign a variety of activities that share the same student learning objective.

At the beginning of the year, we gave teachers a new way to navigate the thousands of skills exercises, writing prompts, and other interactive activities that make up NoRedInk’s comprehensive writing and grammar curriculum: Modules.

These learning modules are curated collections of sequenced activities that target specific writing and grammar skills. They make it easy for teachers to find a variety of activities that all drive toward a shared student learning objective. Most Modules are designed to take up roughly the same amount of time, functioning as pre-made instructional units that teachers can incorporate into their weekly plans.

To ensure they help promote effective cycles of modeling, application, feedback, and growth, we aligned the resources and activities in each Module with four key instructional phases that many of the most successful NoRedInk teachers emphasize in their classrooms: Teach, Practice, Apply & Assess, and Extend.

Teach: Learning objectives, prereqs, and pre-teaching resources

Every Module provides a specific learning objective for the instructional unit. Student learning objectives range from “Students can distinguish common and proper nouns” to “Students can create sentences in the active or passive voice” to “Students can use reasoning to connect evidence to a claim.”

When applicable, a Module will also include any other skills students should master prior to beginning the unit. If students haven’t mastered these prerequisite skills—or if it has been a while since these skills were covered—teachers should consider creating a couple assignments based on the Core Practice of the linked Modules as a scaffold or refresher.

Because pre-teaching skills before having students jump into practice is an important part of setting students up for success, every Module features at least one interactive tutorial. NoRedInk tutorials break down a writing or grammar skill into manageable chunks, walking students through the critical aspects of the skill and then asking them a question or two to check their understanding.

As a way to introduce the skill targeted by a Module, a teacher can either project the related tutorial on the board and work through it as a class or share the tutorial link with their students and have them work through it in pairs or small groups. Teachers who want additional pre-teaching resources need only look to the Practice section of the Module for lessons that drill down into the intermediate skills that build up to the Module’s primary targeted skill.

Practice: Core and scaffolding skills exercises

The Practice sections of Modules deliver a wide range of exercises that help students progress toward mastery of the skill at hand. These hands-on exercises are adaptive, meaning students see hints, lessons, and extra questions when they struggle and see more challenging questions when they excel.

Every Module includes Core Practice, which enables students to work on the targeted skill directly, and nearly 80% of Modules include Scaffolding Practice, which helps students develop a strong foundation of related skills so they’re better-prepared to work on the targeted skill.

While Core Practice is the cornerstone of this section, there are many ways for teachers to combine it with other types of practice in order to create differentiated learning experiences across their classrooms. For instance:

  • Approach #1: Start by assigning Core Practice to the entire class. Then, identify which students are struggling with the Core Practice topics and shift them over to an assignment on the Scaffolding Practice topics. If some students master the Core Practice quickly, have them try out some Advanced Practice from the Extend section of the Module (more on this below).
  • Approach #2: If, based on a Unit Diagnostic or some other benchmark assessment, it appears as though most or all of the class isn’t quite ready to tackle Core Practice, stretch out the instructional unit and preemptively assign Scaffolding Practice as a lead-in to Core Practice.

Apply & Assess: Writing activities, passages, and quizzes

The Apply & Assess section of a Module provides teachers with several tools for evaluating what students have learned and helping them incorporate the targeted skill into their own writing.

Each Module features at least one Skill-Building Quick Write. These 10- to 15-minute writing activities support students as they fine-tune specific skills by delivering scaffolding like tutorials and lessons and posing exit ticket-like reflection questions that boost retention. Skill-Building Quick Writes offer teachers a straightforward way to draw connections between discrete skills and the application of these skills to writing, helping students understand the “why” behind what they’re learning.

A number of Modules also feature Passage Quizzes, which represent another opportunity for students to apply the skill they’ve been practicing in an authentic context. Passage Quizzes ask students to evaluate and correct a three- to five-paragraph, high-interest passage that contains strategically placed errors related to a Module’s targeted skill. Immediately after submitting their corrections, students complete a mandatory remediation exercise that walks them through each incorrect answer and gives them a chance to correct a similar error so they’re able to learn from their mistakes.

While Skill-Building Quick Writes and Passage Quizzes are great ways to assess student understanding as a Module draws to a close, every Module does include a more formal, skill-specific Quiz, as well. NoRedInk Quizzes are auto-graded, summative assessments that use a variety of question types to give teachers a snapshot of where each student stands. At the end of a Quiz, students are able to complete an optional remediation exercise similar to the mandatory remediation exercises found at the end of Passage Quizzes.

Extend: Advanced skills exercises and long-form essays

To provide teachers with additional flexibility, over half of Modules include extension activities that build on the activities from the Practice and Apply & Assess sections. Advanced Practice is the most common type of extension activity and covers sophisticated, tricky, or niche applications of a Module’s targeted skill. These activities are typically best-suited to students who finish Core Practice quickly and are interested in deepening their knowledge, though they can be assigned to an entire class if, for instance, the targeted skill appears prominently in the state standards a teacher must cover.

Modules on writing topics like thesis statements and claims, evidence, and reasoning offer Guided Drafts as extension activities. These scaffolded essay-writing activities give students access to tips, lessons, and rubrics that are tailored to each Module’s specific learning objective. Assigning a Guided Draft at the end of a Module enables a teacher to hold students accountable for the targeted writing skill in a much broader context made up of ideas and points of focus from other parts of class (think: critical reading, research, and so forth).

Become part of the NoRedInk community

From Modules to Writing Portfolios to integrations with popular tools like Google Classroom, NoRedInk is constantly rolling out new features that make it easier for teachers to build better writers in their classrooms.

If you want to explore our engaging, comprehensive writing and grammar program with your students, sign up for free today!

Thomas collaborates with colleagues from across NoRedInk to craft stories that illustrate how NoRedInk ​​builds stronger writers. He holds a BA in Religious Studies from Occidental College.