The Mozi by Core Innovate a Tool for Teachers to Slow Headaches

Stephen L Kanaval  Follow | 

Any teacher will tell you, from elementary school to college, teaching writing and the writing process is the hardest skill to acquire. Mastering writing requires a Herculean effort on behalf of instructors and most times teachers look at a room of blank faces. I myself working as an administrator in a public school classroom have seen elaborate lesson plans fail miserable trying to teach the five-paragraph essay. To add insult to injury, Common Core Writing Standards are asking students to write more academically, to use evidence with more precision and staying succinct with structure. The perils of being a writing teacher are vast. So, when I heard about The Mozi from Core Innovate Inc. I was very excited.

The Mozi is a web-based essay writing tool that allows a teacher to give essay prompts and a student to respond using digital templates provided by Mozi. A student can receive grades and feedback through the Mozi dashboard and a teacher can uniquely view all their essays and scores in place. The Mozi Writing Wizard helps a student by guiding them through the usually treacherous writing process. It will guide them through the hook, scaffold the introduction paragraph and then direct them through the remainder of the essay. The wizard starts with an outline organizing their thoughts and notes, then helps them flesh out the essay piece by piece. As the student writes, Mozi monitors for grammar and usage, spelling, but also provides feedback and tips that generate as the student writes.

The Mozi can be purchased by a student, teacher, parent or district administrator. The cost is $7 per student for a year subscription.

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Intervention Innovation Pilot Implementation- June 2016 Submitted by Eagle Rock Junior/Senior High School

Teacher Data Analysis and Identification of Patterns and Themes:

The IIP Grant implemented a Targeted Tier 2 writing program called Mozi. Mozi is an online platform to develop writing of argumentative and expository writing essays. Eagle Rock High Schol selected 85 students that included students from 7th and 8th grade general education classrooms, students with disabilities, English learners, and Magnet/gifted students.

Mozi provided students and teachers with an online experienceof the writing process in a scaffolded and systematic format which made the learning of the writing process accessible to all students. Mozi supports teacher's capacity to inspire critical thought and build powerful communication skills for students. Mozi simplifies the writing process so students can express their thoughts in all subjects with confidence. The program took Eagle Rock HS teachers through a step by step process as they created writing assignments that built mastery in an argumentative essay that aligned with their ELA curriculum.

The teachers selected for the IIP were representative of the middle school population and targeted English Learners for Tier 2 support. First, Ms. Torrez', Mr. Duarte, Mr. Elizondo, Mrs. Ruiz, and Mr. Martinez classes were composed of students in the general educadtion classroom, RSP Special Education Program, English learners, and students with disabilities in the High Functional Autism program.

 Success Indicators:

Mozi provided teachers with a step by step process to create writing assignments that built on the mastery of English Language Arts argumentative essays. It also collected the students' essays and provided teachers with an easier way to create and grade assignments, and generated reports that provided valuable and immediate feedback to students and teachers.

The two (2) major student success indicators were provided by Mozi's feedback pre and post surveys, and the students' writing scores based on a rubric. The rubric provided eight (8) points of assessment.

Students' feedback:

The students' responded to a pre and a post SurveyMonkey survey during the pre and a post writing of an argumentative essay.  The survey was composed of eight(8) questions. The difference between the pre and post surveys allowed teachers' to reflect on the degree of confidence in the students' writing ability to complete an argumentative essay task. The surveyed explored students perceptions of their writing ability of an argumentative essay and their understanding of the writing process.

Teachers' Process:

Depending on the period and class teachers had different experiences with the initial implementation/Pilot of Mozi. For example, Mr. Martinez noticed that the first ten students did much worse on the second (2nd) prompt than the first (1st) prompt. The class period was short, students felt that the topic of the second prompt was much more difficult for them (the prompt was about how they would fill out the loyalty oath in Farewell to Manzanar during the Japanese-American internment during world war II). It was also noticed that students were tired/exhausted from the finals week and end of the year activities. Even so, most of the students made an effort to address a counterclaim to their argument. This was a big change from the first prompt. Students’ writing styles remained the same. A good number of students, even after targeted instruction, still wrote of topic or wanted to argue a point rather than follow an argumentative essay claim and counterclaim process.

The stronger papers were focused and organized. The weaker papers failed to sustain an argument. This seems to be a running problem across all grades and courses. Thus, writing depends greatly on the students' continuous writing, as well as, teachers' guidance, directed and targeted instruction to model how to write. Just telling students what to write was not enough. Students benefited from receiving instruction based on Mozi data reports that targeted, modeled, and use effective strategies to teach writing.

 Strategies Used:

1. Direct Instruction: All teachers provided instruction before and after the first assignment. This helped students to understand and practice the process of how to write an argumentative essay. However, strategies also were required to focus on the content and the product expected. Most of the times, teachers tell students what to write without explaining how to achieve such task. Mozi and its inherent structure allowed teachers ways to exemplify visually and cognitively how to write. Strategies like Write Alouds, Write Talks, and Writing Modeling really helped students have access not only about the process but also about he content and the type of product expected.

Direct instruction on what an argumentative essay was also effective before and after the first prompt. Yet, more effective than teaching to teach a type of essay or how to respond to a prompt, it was that teachers had access to data from Mozi reports which showed exactly what areas (i.e. rubric) of the writing process were of weakness or strength by class and by student. English Learners and Students with Disabilities produced argument writing on the last week of school!

2. Data-based instruction: The use of Mozi data was a strategy that it brings powerful implications to its future use and to curricular instruction of ELA or the language requirements of a subject area. Data obtained through the Mozi reports from teachers' grading, also showed that grammar, language conventions, and content standards were areas of weakness in about 50% of the students. Data showed that in order to maximize students writing abilities these areas require continuous teaching during the year, regardless of the grade or program students belong to. The initial stage of implementation provides insight into present students' lack of writing abilities and the need for subsequent instruction of grammar and language conventions to improve students' overall writing abilities.

3. Collaboration: Teachers collaborated with administrators and coordinators to set and implement clear timelines and accountabilities. These opportunities were powerful because they created an atmosphere of teamwork for crafting grade-level writing prompts, inter-program coordination (sped and gen. ed) and community building. Teachers drafted concise prompts for individuals and groups. By working as a team, teachers developed well-crafted, relevant, and effective writing assignments that targeted both grade level subject topics, students' academic needs, and teachers' needs for formative assessments in writing. (The teachers also engaged in concepts, strategies, and tools that support effective and efficient collaboration. The trainers from Mozi and ERHS leadership are trained in Adaptive Schools) The final outcome for teachers was to have an effective way to create instruction, grade, and use such data to create instruction that can be shared with other students, teachers, parents and administrators. 


1. Student Feedback Surveys: The findings after comparing the student feedback surveys show that the overall confidence level of students increased in different areas of the writing process. For instance, when students were asked about the level of comfort about writing argumentative essays, the overall strong agreement doubled for the average writer and dropped 20% for struggling writers. The survey data showed that the overall students (from all programs) perceptions of their writing abilities improved in all areasof the writing process. For example, the overall feedback about students' ability to state a claim increased from 20% to 37% in both struggling and proficient writers.

The most significant finding was that all students benefited from Mozi's ability to organize the writing of claims and counterclaims in a step by step logical and coherent manner . For instance, the most important elements of writing of an argumentative essay (writing a claim and a counterclaim) improved as shown by both students' perceptions and actual scores based on a rubric. Struggling students benefited the most by doubling their percentage feedback perceptions of their ability to complete the task. Mozi, as a Tier 2 Intervention program, effectively aligned and supported students' writing challenges.

The students' confidence level of their ability to write an essay remained the samein pre and post surveys. For example, 80% of the students, who reported writing proficiency, felt comfortable with their ability to write an essay, whereas, 20% of the struggling writers still found the writing process challenging. This finding was noted to be typical due to the fact that students writing abilities had been pre-determined by their prior experiences before using Mozi. Two (2) writing assignments and 2 lessons had an impact on the students' perceptions more than on their actual abilities. It is expected, however, that the students' writing abilities did and will improve with more opportunities to write and for teachers to teach direct and targeted lessons based on Mozi data and implementation.

2. Students' writing scores:

Mozi provides teachers with a clear and coherent way to create and to grade students' writing using specific criteria. Thus, the grading of students’ writing scores showed that there was overall improvement due to the use of consistent academic language and re-teaching regarding counter-claim.

Students and teachers benefited the most in the use of a rubric. The Common Core rubric provided by Mozi on the platform emphasizes focus, organization, evidence, audience and purpose, analysis, and assertion. After teachers graded all the students’ pre and post essays, the language conventions and content standards use remained the same. It was expected that the students' writing abilities were not going to change dramatically in a short pilot study/implementation of the use of Mozi.

The data analysis showed an improvement in the students' ability to write an argumentative essay through the scaffolded step by step method. The data showed that students improved from a score of 1 to a score of 2 (rubric is based on a scale of 1-4) in most areas that related to knowledge acquisition of learning how write. For example, it was observed by all teachers that students had little knowledge of how to write argumentative essays. It was a bit shocking to notice that 7th and 8th graders did not know how to write argumentative essays. Similarly, after one targeted lesson based on the data which show such lack of knowledge, students improved dramatically their understanding and structure of how write an argumentative essay, especially the counterclaim.

Mozi benefited all students by providing an interactive and interesting step by step program that built their confidence to learn and to write a coherent argumentative essay. Mozi benefited proficient writers in providing them with a logical method to structure their thoughts and present their writing abilities. Mozi gave students a clear way to create claims, evidence, and reasoning which aligned with common core requirements and supported students to write correctly and effectively.

Mozi also benefit struggling writers in having fun and having a method to write that helped them organize their thinking process, re-relearning of the writing process, and learning of how to write argumentative essays.

3. Teacher Capacity: Teachers who piloted the program felt that Mozi was easy to use to create prompts, assignments and reports of students' performance. Mozi made grading easier and reliable by providing rubrics that provide evidence to create links and instruction to daily teaching. There was 100% of students' engagement which is not always the case when done in a traditional method. Teachers received up to two types of training. The first training was a voluntary session where thirty faculty participated in a Saturday Professional Development led by Principal Keipp regarding differentiation and the use of Mozi for writing. A high school teacher who uses Mozi attended the session to support ERHS. At that time, several teachers volunteered to be part of a Mozi pilot. At the second training, five teachers and two coordinators participated in specific activities to create prompts, score essays, review data, and plan re-teaching. The training was led by two Mozi staff (John and Jane). Teachers were given specific support to create standards-based assessments to target diverse learning needs.


Even with the fast timeline for creating, expending, implementing, and reflecting on this intervention pilot, the gains are tremendous. When the last week of school is generally an underused instructional week, we had over 100 students writing arguments! We have six teacher advocates for meaningful and inclusive teacher collaboration! We also have clear data that technology supports, not supplants, instruction; students’ writing improved because of direct, targeted instruction.