With innumerable websites now devoted to engaging students in reading and writing, it can be tough for educators to know which ones to rely on. Here are a few easy-to-use online tools that language arts teachers are using to build projects around.
This online reading program aims to get students excited about reading through interactive features and games. Kids can create booklists, choose books they want to read, and take quizzes on books they’ve read. The site offers tips for teachers and parents on tracking their kids’ reading progress. Students can also enter contests and win prizes for their reading success.
The Comic Creator allows students to compose their own comic strips. Students choose characters, props, and backgrounds, and craft their own dialogue. This tool is appropriate for K-12 students as either a prewriting, pre- or post-reading activity, or as a response-to-literature exercise.
A social-networking site built for classrooms, Edmodo has a “wall” functionality that teachers can use for students to discuss books or post quotes. It’s a viable alternative to Facebook for schools.
An interactive graphic organizer, Essay Map offers students several ways to structure their writing through the use of an outline. Students fill in the boxes with an introductory statement, a main idea, the supporting details of their piece, and a concluding statement. The end result is a map of their piece that can be printed, saved, or e-mailed.
Teachers can find an assortment of resources for language arts and English-language learner classes on this site. The worksheets and tongue-twister games help exercise students’ knowledge on parts of speech and vocabulary words. Students can also work through word scrambles and use their creativity by writing captions for images taken from popular films. A unique aspect of the site is the “movie reviews” exercise, in which students watch a movie trailer and write about their reactions.
This online tool helps students develop their fact-finding skills early on in their school experiences. The goal is to teach students to pull out the most important facts from a text as they are taking notes. In the exercises, students choose key words and sentences, which are copied over to a virtual notebook. Students then rewrite the notes in their own words as a practice in avoiding plagiarism.
This site offers reading comprehension worksheets designed for students in upper elementary through middle grades. The worksheets break down reading passages to help learners understand the meaning of words, the context of the scenarios depicted, and the main ideas in the text. The content includes stories, poems, essays, and articles.
This social-networking site allows users to build online bulletin boards around topics of interest. Though popular for wedding announcements and recipe-sharing, the site is also frequently used by teachers to have students, for example, create boards on books or fictional characters.
On Toon Doo, like Comic Creator, kids create their own comic strips using the tools offered on the site. They can make up characters and write a detailed story to accompany their drawings.
A version of this article appeared in the March 01, 2012 edition of Teacher PD Sourcebook