Since the point of Writelike is to give students scaffolded writing practice, on most lesson pages you'll find a combination of snippet, highlighting, and textbox.

For example, this is a snippet from Awful Auntie:

Sometimes the young Stella believed that the house was haunted. That a ghost stalked Saxby Hall in the dead of night. When she went to bed, the little girl was convinced she could hear someone or something moving about behind her wall.

The highlighting focuses attention on how David Walliams introduces a character's belief and then expands on it with more detail.

And students would write their own variation in a textbox like this:

Write your own variation here.

So far, so simple, but there are some things we should point out.

Writelike doesn't do any automated assessment yet; it can't tell if you've written a good or bad response.

A student can type 'aljdsal;h;slhsdf' and Writelike will have no opinion.

We've found that the assessment criteria are so varied and subjective that an automated approach needs very careful implementation.

Instead feedback and accountability is social: visibility in response feeds, teacher review, Wrotevote.

Essentially, to make space for the highlighting system we had to strip out a lot of what people take for granted in online text editing, such as formatting and spell check.

If your students rely on automated spell-checking, you might want to suggest that they copy their text to Word or similar, use the spell-checker, then come back.

(Incidentally, the text editor that we use to write these lessons doesn't support spell-checking either, which means Writelike is very typo-prone, so we always appreciate it when users point out typos we've missed.)

Students can submit work without highlighting.

Applying highlighting is helpful because it forces a student to look more closely at what they've written and consider whether it really matches the criteria for the pattern.

It also helps reviewers see what the student thought they were doing.

However, sometimes it can feel cumbersome and unnecessary, so we don't make it mandatory.

It's better if you set expectations for your class, for example:

  • Highlight all responses
  • Highlight only checkpoint pieces
  • Highlight if and when students feel it's necessary to help them check their own work

Also note the approach described in How to Writelike, of highlighting the first and last word in each region instead of dragging highlighters across spans of text, which can be difficult for students without a mouse.

Highlighting just the first and last word of a section makes it harder to read, but it achieves the main goal of highlighting—getting the students to reflect on their writing

You'll notice there is no save button on the textbox.

  • As discussed in How to Writelike, Writelike will save draft progress to your browser so you can come back and finish it later.
  • But work isn't submitted until a student has clicked 'Complete page'. Until the page is submitted, their response won't appear in reports, the response feed or Wrotevote, and won't be counted towards lesson completion.

Most textboxes are blank, sometimes we will prefill them with responses from preceding textboxes in the lesson, if the student has submitted them. 

For example, most 'detailed practice' lessons involve writing a longer passage in small chunks, which are then automatically combined at the checkpoint.

Once students see the combined response, they can edit and polish as a longer piece of writing and make sure they are happy before submitting the checkpoint.