Frequently Asked Questions
Everything you need to know about Quill's pedagogy and use in the classroom
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Quill is a nonprofit, educational technology organization dedicated to improving student writing.
For more questions and answers, visit our support page.
Quill is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) that provides free writing and grammar activities for students. Quill's tools provide practice with grammar conventions, combining sentences, and proofreading passages. Teachers can assign Quill's synchronous lessons tool to provide whole-group or small-group instruction. Quill provides a baseline diagnostic assessment teachers can assign to identify students' current strengths and areas of growth. Once students complete a diagnostic, Quill provides personalized learning plans for addressing each student's needs.
Quill provides 10-15 minute exercises that help students build sentence construction skills. Quill automatically grades the writing and provides feedback and hints to help students improve it. The immediate feedback enables students to quickly build their skills, and it saves teachers dozens of hours spent on grading.
Quill also offers whole-class or small-group collaborative lessons led by the teacher, lasting about 20-30 minutes. Teachers control interactive slides that contain writing prompts, and students respond to each prompt. Each Quill Lesson provides a lesson plan, writing prompts, discussion topics, and follow-up independent practice activities.
Quill Diagnostic: Identify Learning Gaps and Assign Personalized Learning Plans
Quill Lessons: Shared Group Lessons
Quill Connect: Combine Sentences
Quill Grammar: Practice Mechanics
Quill Proofreader: Fix Errors In Passages
As of July 2021, over 87,000 teachers and 4,200,000 students have used Quill. These students complete approximately 30,000 activities each day. From Rhode Island to Russia, and the Bay Area to Great Britain, these students live all over the world.
Do Now: Use Quill’s activities as a quick daily warm-up at the beginning of class.
Whole-Class Lessons: Lead whole-class interactive and small group writing instruction.
Independent Practice: Use Quill after a mini lesson to reinforce your instruction.
Homework: Assign Quill as homework for students to complete on a smartphone or a computer.
For more information and ideas, check out our teacher stories.
All of Quill's activities are free for educators and students to use with no hidden fees. There is no limit to the number of activities you can assign or the number of students you can invite. We also offer a premium service for in-depth reporting for educators, schools, and districts. You can learn more about Quill Premium here.
As of July 2021, we have created over 700 activities with 5,000 practice questions, covering Common Core topics for grades K-12 and Pre-AP/AP content. Each activity is approximately 10-20 minutes in length.
Yes! If you are a homeschooling parent or just assigning extra practice to your child, you will need to sign up for a teacher account, create a classroom, and then add your child to it as a student. More info
Welcome to Quill! We have a getting started guide here. You can also email email@example.com with specific questions.
Quill is a supplemental tool, and each activity takes 10-15 minutes. We recommend that students complete 2-3 activities a week over eight weeks in order to see an improvement in their writing.
Quill activities are approximately 15 minutes in length. Teachers who have a 1:1 computer to student ratio tend to use Quill as a warm-up activity at the beginning of a class. Teachers who have a limited availability of laptops tend to have their students rotate through the computers while the rest of the class engages in other activities.
While our activities are arranged by Common Core Standard, there is not a fixed progression of activities. Teachers have all of our activities available to them, and they may choose to assign any activity they're interested in teaching.
Quill currently offers 5 tools. The 5 tools are designed to work together seamlessly—activities from any tool can be assigned from the same place, in the same way, and you can mix and match activities from the different tools to build your own activity packs.
In Quill Proofreader, students proofread a passage to find and correct the errors. Some passages focus on a specific grammar concept, but many cover a wide range of skills to mirror a real-life proofreading and editing process.
Once students have made all their edits to the passage, we'll highlight for the student which edits are correct, which are unnecessary, and which are incorrect or not found. Then, students are automatically assigned a follow-up activity from Quill Grammar that addresses one of the skills the student needs to practice based on their proofreading.
In Quill Grammar, students practice the basics of sentence mechanics. Here is where you'll find activities to practice skills like using proper capitalization, recognizing the difference between pronouns, and much more. As students practice these skills, they are given five chances to revise each response. After each revision, students receive feedback to help them improve their sentence.
Quill Connect is our sentence combining tool, and our most popular. In Quill Connect, students develop their sentence construction skills by combining multiple short sentences into a more sophisticated single sentence. Students are given up to five opportunities to revise their work, receiving immediate targeted feedback after each revision that guides them toward a stronger response.
Quill offers four diagnostics that can be used to evaluate your students' writing. The goal of the diagnostics is to provide you with enough information about your students' needs that you can assign the most appropriate activities for your students. Because diagnostic activities are evaluative, students will not receive any feedback on their responses and will only have one attempt per question.
Once students complete a diagnostic, you'll get a report that details the results and that includes a series of recommended activities for each individual student based on their diagnostic performance. Although the detailed report shows a numerical score to help you group students into tiers, it is graded for completion elsewhere on your and your students' dashboards.
Quill Lessons is our first tool designed to provide direct, whole-class instruction rather than independent practice. Each Quill Lesson activity includes a lesson plan with step by step instructions and explanations, and a slide-style presentation that can be projected to the class. Each student connects to the lesson using their own devices and can participate in real-time, answering questions and writing responses that can be displayed to the whole class for teacher-led discussion.
Quill offers six diagnostics and four writing skills surveys, each covering different sentence construction skills. Once your students complete a diagnostic or survey, we'll create a set of recommended activities tailored for each student based on their diagnostic results. As the teacher, you can review these recommendations and assign them all or pick and choose the ones you'd like students to complete based on your own evaluation of their needs.
You can also personalize instruction for your students by building your own activity packs. Search our entire library of content and build custom packs that can be assigned to your whole class, small groups, or individual students, giving you the freedom to assign activities that are specific to your students.
After each revision, students receive feedback on their writing. In consultation with teachers and based on current research on how to provide grammar instruction for students, we have made a few very intentional style decisions that we follow as we write this feedback. Here's an overview of some of the guidelines that our student-facing feedback follows:
- We try to avoid using technical grammar terms and jargon; whenever possible, we try to talk about grammar concepts in terms of their function rather than their technical name.
- We try to use language that encourages revision as a natural part of the writing process rather than focusing on whether the student's writing is right or wrong.
- We try to find the right balance between guiding students with clear directives and explanation and encouraging students to think critically about their writing and discover the necessary revisions themselves.
Each activity is assigned a Common Core State Standard that aligns with the grammar target of the activity. Because we recognize that the Common Core State Standards do not always map to the needs of students, we recommend deciding what's right for your students based on the grammar concept of the activity rather than the grade level indicated by the activity's CCSS. For example, we have found that many of our 4th grade CCSS activities, such as those that explore relative pronouns and clauses, are actually more appropriate for middle or high school students.
We have a lot of activities in our library! Most of these activities are named based on the specific grammar concept they cover and the topic they discuss.
Some activities also include a number. If an activity includes a number, that means there are other activities that cover the same grammar concept at the same level. For example, if your students complete Parallel Structure 1 but you feel they need additional practice at that level, you can assign Parallel Structure 2.
Many of our activities cover a specific grammar concept, but some of our activities are categorized as "Advanced Combining" instead. These activities are ones that allow students to combine sentences using any grammatically correct method. Students will receive feedback based on the structure they chose to use. Advanced combining activities are a great way to give your students opportunities to problem solve and be creative in their sentence construction. Because they provide little direction for students, we recommend having students complete a few activities with a clear grammar target before doing advanced combining activities, especially if they are new to sentence combining.
Our goal is to build strong writers who have made revising an essential part of their writing process. For that reason, we provide students with the opportunity to revise each response up to five times until they have written a strong, grammatically correct sentence. After each revision, students receive feedback that guides them towards a stronger response. If after five revisions the response is still not considered strong, we'll show a few sample responses and ask the student to choose the strongest one before moving on to the next question.
Students can retry an activity as many times as they want. Once a student has completed an activity, it remains on their dashboard, available to retry at any time.
Quill utilizes a stoplight system of green, yellow, and red scores. A green square indicates that the student scored 76-100%. A yellow square indicates the student scored 50-75%. A red square indicates that the student scored under 50%. A grey square indicates an uncompleted lesson.
Quill follows the guidelines for grammar and style published in the Chicago Manual of Style. While other style guides are geared towards specific audiences and genres of writing, the Chicago Manual of Style is designed to support writers of all types.
Quill provides three diagnostics specifically for ELL students. Directions for each diagnostic are available in Spanish, French, German, Chinese (Simplified), Japanese, Korean, Urdu, Tagalog (Filipino), Vietnamese, Russian, Thai, Ukrainian, Portuguese, Dari (Eastern Farsi), Arabic, and Hindi.
- The ELL Starter Diagnostic covers the basics of sentence writing in English, including how to use "to be," "to have," and "to want" in simple sentences and questions. It is most appropriate for students who are still building their English vocabulary and beginning to work on sentence structure and verb conjugation.
- The ELL Intermediate Diagnostic is recommended for students who already have a foundation in English. It includes topics such as subject-verb agreement, prepositions, and question words.
- The ELL Advanced Diagnostic covers skills that tend to be particularly challenging for English Language Learners, including regular and irregular past tense, phrasal verbs, and commonly confused words.
We aim to meet level AA standards from the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1. As of now, only part of our website is compliant with the AA standards. We are actively working to make the remaining parts of our website compliant.
Where we're compliant:
Quill Connect, Quill Diagnostic, Quill Grammar, and the student dashboard
Where we're working on becoming compliant:
Quill Proofreader, Quill Lessons, the teacher dashboard, and public-facing pages
- Each page lets you "Skip to main content" by pressing the tab key
- Each page lets you navigate with only your keyboard
- Each page is designed to be used with major screen readers
- Each page works for almost all major screen sizes and device types
- Each page can zoom up to 300% without any major issues
- Each of our interface elements meets color contrast standards
Quill also fully integrates with many extensions such as ReadAloud and Open Dyslexic. See a list of other extensions work with Quill.
You can troubleshoot loading issues by following these steps. If you’re having trouble accessing Quill’s activities, your school is likely encountering some firewall issues when trying to access activities on Quill.org.
Quill is built in HTML5, so it runs on all tablets, smartphones and modern browsers. Quill runs in Firefox, Chrome, Safari, and Microsoft Edge. Quill recommends that students have access to keyboards so that they can type their responses.
Yes, Quill works on iPhones, Android devices and all tablets including Kindles. Students can start and finish their independent practice on any of these devices and they can follow along with your slides in the group mode.
Recommendation: If students are using Quill on a tablet, for better typing we recommend using a keyboard with the tablet. We have seen that students perform better and type faster with a keyboard rather than a touchscreen.
Coming soon: We are currently working on a mobile app that will allow students to do their homework or independent practice on their phone while offline and share their score with their teachers when they are back online.
The Quill LMS is built in Ruby on Rails. Our newer tools, including Quill Diagnostic and Quill Connect, were written in React.js, while Quill Grammar and Quill Proofreader were written in Angular.js. We make use of additional libraries and tools as needed, including Redux, TypeScript, Redis, Firebase, and Elasticsearch.
Teachers create teacher accounts and students create student accounts by clicking here. Teachers are given a class code for each class. Students join their teacher's class by plugging in their teacher's class code. Teachers may also manually create accounts for their students. If you have a Google Classroom account, you can sign up with Google and import your students. For more information about getting started, please visit our Teacher Resources page. You can also download our Getting Started Guide for Teachers.
Quill's mission is to collaboratively build educational materials and make those materials freely available. We work with a large team of volunteers who spend their time on this project because they believe in this mission. We, in turn, have no interest in ever being purchased by another company or being sold on the stock market. While we are a commercial nonprofit, and intend to generate sustainable revenue, our mission is to revolutionize how students learn.
In educational technology, the closest organization to our own is Reasoning Mind. Reasoning Mind is a nonprofit organization that charges a fee to use its mathematics software. Another similar nonprofit is EdX. EdX intends to create sustainable revenue by charging school systems for its services.
Open Source means that all of our code is made freely available. You may download it and install it for free for any non-commercial purpose. Other developers may reuse our code in their programs. We build our code through GitHub, and you can see what we are working on at the moment here.
All of our instructional materials are made available under a Creative Commons BY-SA-NC license. This means that you may reuse our materials for any non-commercial purpose.
We are always looking for suggestions and ideas from our teachers to improve and grow Quill. If you have an idea for a feature you would like to see on Quill, please create a post here. If you have an idea for content you would like to see on Quill, please create a post here. We have turned many of our teachers' ideas to products such as Quill Diagnostic and Quill Lessons, so don't hesitate to reach out to us.
Yes, as a 501(c)3 charitable organization, you can make a tax deductible donation to us. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information about this.
We are always looking for educators who are interested in helping Quill by providing feedback, creating content, or giving us ideas for new apps. Please contact us at email@example.com if you would like to do any of these things.
We are open source and can always use volunteer developers! Our Github is here: https://github.com/empirical-org.