NowComment.com offers a no-strings, totally free service to facilitate detailed discussions about texts – and this is a great resource for teachers seeking to engage students in deep analysis. Students can use the interface to do a close reading of a poem, a passage from literature, a historical document, an informational article, or even a math word problem.
What’s great is how the interface visually links specific comments with paragraphs, sentences, or even individual words. I remember, as an English teacher, how many of my students, by default, trended toward broad generalizations – but instead I wanted them to make focused interpretations supported by evidence. NowComment.com, by providing visual linkages, makes it easier to focus comments in a targeted manner.
Think of it as an interactive tool for annotations, or a threaded discussion presented side-by-side with source material.
After registering for a free account, you can set up a group (like a classroom), and you can decide whether the uploaded texts are public or private. You can upload users (students) by entering their email address into a web form, or by uploading a CSV file (with first names, last names, and email addresses).
For more information on close reading and the Common Core, check out this article from ASCD.