Instructional Software

For High School Writing

Relative Advantage

Using instructional software to teach high school writing has many relative advantages, including but not limited to:

  • Use for remediation and intervention - Students that need a little extra help are able to practice skills without the need of one-on-one support from the teacher.
  • Enable differentiation - Instructional software can help a teacher easily differentiate learning to individual student needs.
  • Save the teacher time - Instructional software can save the teacher time by reducing time copying, grading, differentiating, etc.
  • Increase engagement - Utilizing hands-on, fun instructional software can increase student engagement and motivation to learn.
  • Immediate feedback - Instructional software can provide students immediate feedback on correct vs. incorrect and what they need to further work on.

There are five categories of instructional software:

Drill and Practice

Drill and practice instructional software allows students to answer questions. A key feature of drill and practice software is that it provides feedback (most often immediate) as to the correctness of the answer provided by the learner. Because of this, drill and practice software is usually for content that has one correct answer such as math facts, spelling, and vocabulary.

Quizlet's flashcard feature is an example of drill and practice software:

What is Quizlet?

Using Quizlet for high school writing:

A solid vocabulary is a necessary foundation to writing. Quizlet could be used to teach high school writing by having students practice vocabulary terms.


Tutorial software provides all materials someone needs to learn a topic. A great way to think of tutorial software is that it is similar to a teacher's classroom instruction, and after participation with the software student's should be able to learn the topic without help from other resources.

VocabAhead's Study Room is a great example of tutorial software. It includes audio, games, quizzes and more that help students learn vocabulary:

Using VocabAhead's Study Room for high school writing:

Study room could be used to teach high school writing by helping students master vocabulary.


A simulation is developed to model how a system works in a computerized environment. Typically, in a simulation, learners must make decisions and choose certain tasks that lead to more tasks. Simulations can be divided into two categories: those that teach about something and those that each how to do something.

Celebrity Calamity is an example of a simulation that teaches about something:

Using Celebrity Calamity in high school writing:

Celebrity Calamity is designed to teach personal finance content. If I was integrating this into the classroom I would have learners complete the simulation and then write a reflection on what they learned from the simulation.

Instructional Game

Instructional game software adds game elements to drill-and-practice and simulations. Game elements increase learner motivation and attempt to make learning fun. Instructional games are usually integrated in the same way as drill-and-practice and simulation software.

Free Rice is an example of an instructional game, because for every correct answer a player gets, 10 grains of rice are donated to the World Food Program to help end hunger. Learners are motivated by this as well as the opportunity to compete against other players.

Using Free Rice in high school writing:

Free Rice is a vocabulary game and could be incorporated into various areas of teaching writing.

Problem Solving

Problem solving software provides learners with opportunities to solve problems and therefore, acquire problem solving skills. Problem solving software is divided into two categories: content-area that focuses on a specific content or content-free that focuses on general problem-solving ability.

Lumosity is content-free problem-solving software:

Using Free Rice in high school writing:

Lumosity would be a great tool for "brain breaks."

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