Quill Awarded Grant to Develop a Platform for Web-Based Writing Activities
May 16th, 2014
Queens, NY — Empirical has received a $200,000 grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Literacy Courseware Challenge for the development of a platform for interactive writing activities. Quill currently features over 150 Common Core-based grammar lessons. With this grant, Quill expands into a comprehensive writing tool.
Quill has two major learning activities in the works: Stories with Friends and ProofingGround. Stories with Friends has pairs of students collaboratively write stories based on a shared list of vocabulary words. This tool targets the vocabulary and writing sections of the Common Core. In ProofingGround, students proofread each other’s work and receive points for each correction they make. Peer review can be a powerful instructional method, as it gives students an opportunity to articulate and defend their linguistic choices. ProofingGround targets the “Production and Distribution of Writing” section of the writing category.
Empirical is the nonprofit, open source organization building Quill. Empirical’s mission is to create interactive education. In each learning activity Empirical builds, they ask themselves, “How are students expressing themselves in this activity?” Empirical is driven by the philosophy that student expression is at the heart of learning. With Quill’s free writing activities, this means providing students with challenging prompts, scaffolded instruction, and collaborative engagement. Empirical’s goal is to advance learning from a passive, multiple choice method of education, to an interactive, engaging, and personalized method of education.
Quill has now been live for seven months. In this period, a total of 4,300 students have completed 53,000 learning activities. In that time over forty educators and developers have contributed to the development of Quill. We’d like to personally thank a few of the teachers who have contributed to Quill:
- Laura Gibbs, of the University of Oklahoma, was the inspiration behind our proofreading activities and has contributed dozens of stories to Quill.
- Bryan Twarek and his sixth grade class at KIPP Bayview Academy have consistently provided concise, detailed, and actionable feedback on our lessons, helping us increase the quality and accuracy of our content.
- Kerry Hancock, of STEAM Academy, has been crucial in discovering bugs and letting us know where to focus our efforts through updates.
- Austin Wiese, of Benjamin Franklin High School, discovered the upper limits of our old score book, which enabled us to take steps to fix it.
- Jacqueline Christy, of Achievement Preparatory Academy, has not only been an invaluable source of suggestions and feedback, but was also a driving force behind our student profiles manager.
- Maggie Wunderlich, of Rocketship Education, has given fantastic advice and guidance on some of our most complicated lessons.
- Amy Cox, of Ánimo Pat Brown Charter High School, has provided us with amazing feedback and suggestions about improving our usability for both teachers and students.
We look forward to launching our new learning activities in September!