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PLATO Intermediate Writing Process and Practice

By Susan W. Hixson - Posted Sep 1, 2004
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Overall Rating:5 Stars
Ease of Use:A
Product Support:A

Company: PLATO Learning, Inc., 10801 Nesbitt Ave. South, Bloomington, MN 55437; Phone: 800/447-5268; E-mail:; Internet:
Price: $125--base price, annual school license, PLATO Web Learning Network. Pricing varies. Available only to schools, this product is offered as either an online interactive version or as a networked version (Pathways Manager) that can be installed on a school server.
Audience: Grades 7-9.
Format: Interactive Web site or Local Network work site.
Minimum System Requirements: Since PLATO Intermediate Writing Process and Practice is an interactive program, the faster and more powerful your computer and network are, the more efficiently the program will run.
Your computer must have Macromedia Shockwave Player and other PLATO extras. These can be loaded and installed with easy access through the PLATO Web site when first logging into the program. It is suggested that the instructor load all the needed tools on each computer before students log in for the first time.
Description: PLATO Intermediate Writing Process and Practice is designed to supplement and support the teaching of writing in the middle school years. The program contains levels of lessons with a focus on many of the specific writing skills set by NCTE and the Mid-Continent Research for Education and Learning Lab.
Reviewer Comments:
Installation: The only installation that may be required is to download Macromedia Shockwave Player and make certain that you have the most recent Flash plug-in. If you need to upgrade, you will be guided to click on the links and download what is needed for your machine. Otherwise, you will simply need a browser and Internet access. Installation Rating: A
Content/Features: This program is designed to help students become effective writers by teaching writing skills and strategies with the use of models and activities. Most of the lessons are read aloud by the program. Lessons are carefully scaffolded so that learners build on their skills and gain an understanding of the writing process. Two courses in writing strategies and grammar and mechanics are presented at each level.
After logging in to PLATO Intermediate Writing Process and Practice, the student is asked to select an activity, such as writing strategies or grammar and mechanics. Each has designated levels and modeled lessons that can be read aloud. Students are directed to read examples of sample work and analyze the techniques used to make the writing effective. The examples are clearly stated and the model samples are of high writing quality.
Practice is given in the areas of grammar usage and mechanics. In a mastery test, students are expected to get eight of 10 responses correct for successful completion. At the end of the mastery test, the results are added to the student's file and a certificate can be printed.
With administrative access to the account and a password, the teacher can select student activities and mastery tests. The teacher also can stipulate the amount of time available for lessons. Student achievement is recorded. Teachers may choose to guide the entire class through practice activities or select only the students in need of remedial work. Activities are specific to the skills and standards, so time is not lost with repeat of skills already mastered. Lower levels of this program will be available soon, offering access for those students who need more serious remedial work. This edition of PLATO Intermediate Writing Process and Practice is designed for students in grades 7-9. It addresses the writing, grammar, and mechanics skills needed for students in the middle school years. During the fall, the company will release similar programs for grades 3-4 and 5-6. An advanced version is available for continued learning in grades 10-12. Content/Features Rating: A
Ease of Use: The site is easy to navigate. Buttons along the bottom of the screen of each lesson allow students to exit, ask for audio, and use the arrows to go to the next page. With the available audio track, students with reading problems can easily follow the detailed explanations and directions. The results of the activities and mastery tests are automatically recorded and can be viewed by the teacher. This also lets the student know what lessons they have completed and where they are to go next. Ease of Use: A
Product Support: Within the work page, a Help, browser-based link is available to answer questions on content, assessments, and instructional management. Toll-free telephone support is available (800/681-4357) and e-mail support is offered. Professional development is always included as part of the product price; training may be provided at the school or presented in an online version. Educational consultants are available to explain, model, and enhance the program. Product Support: A
Recommendation: The PLATO Web Learning Network has produced a winner! I am very impressed with the thought and detail that has gone into this program. PLATO Intermediate Writing Process and Practice for grades 7-9 is excellent. I look forward to seeing the other levels of this writing program. The program can be scaffolded to meet the teaching needs in many learning situations. I can see it being used as a model lesson, possibly projected on a screen, to introduce an entire class to examples of good writing and ways to use those examples to improve their own writing. This program will also lead teachers to present stronger skill lessons. The mastery tests are similar to many of the required tests given in schools today and will provide good practice for the students, while measuring their writing abilities at the same time. The online lessons provide additional learning opportunities for students working with a password while at home. I strongly recommend PLATO Intermediate Writing and hope that educators will take a serious look at the benefits of having it in their schools. Highly Recommended.
Reviewer: Susan W. Hixson, Integrating the Internet, Educational Consultant; 480/837-7803;

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