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Purdue Online Writing Lab

One-stop site for writing help is a good resource for teens.

What parents need to know

Educational value

Kids can learn solid how-to information on the writing process as well as grammar with this reliable and comprehensive resource. From pre-writing to formatting a works cited page, the OWL offers detailed guidance on all aspects of academic writing. Teens who are independent minded and are looking for pointers that can help them improve their writing will find this a reliable resource. Teens can use the site as a robust resource for all aspects of the writing process, but they won't find interactivity or an online community.

Positive messages

Kids can gain confidence in their writing with the OWL's extensive and reliable resources.

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Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that the Purdue Online Writing Lab (OWL) is a free resource with information about writing, sponsored by Purdue University. It covers all aspects of writing and could be used by teens as a reference for homework, papers, or any written assignment. Kids will have to look up the relevant topic and apply the information to their question. The information provided is clear and accessible, but how it applies to a specific school task may not be as obvious. Parents may need to help kids find the relevant page within OWL if they need help with a writing assignment.

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What's it about?

The main section of the OWL website offers a broad range of solid information about writing -- the process, grammar, and style. There are no groups to join, fees to pay, or personal information to supply. The site isn't designed for interactive instruction. But if kids are looking for resources, the OWL won't disappoint; it's all easily accessible, free, and abundant -- and kids can print out the pages. Besides all the written documentation, there are also PowerPoint presentations that provide an overview of tools such as the MLA style guide.

Is it any good?


For the right teen, the PURDUE ONLINE WRITING LAB is a great resource for producing any kind of writing. For less mature or younger teens, there won't be much sticking power. There are no cute graphics or interactive opportunities. Independent learners are the real candidates for getting something from this site. But for this demographic, the site will keep them busy reviewing the process they undertake for writing projects and homework. It will also be something to bookmark as a good resource for pesky grammar questions or styling issues.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about other ways kids can express themselves besides writing. If kids have options for how they present their school assignment, they may want to explore different ways of creating with digital media.

  • Families can also talk about how to give and receive constructive criticism. How do you feel when someone critiques your writing? How can you provide feedback to peers without hurting their feelings?

  • Where are other places online where you can find homework help? How can you determine if a website has trustworthy information? What should you look for to determine a website's credibility?

Website details

Subjects:Language & Reading: forming arguments, presenting to others, storytelling, using supporting evidence, writing, writing clearly
Skills:Self-Direction: academic development, motivation
Communication: conveying messages effectively, multiple forms of expression, presenting
Pricing structure:Free

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