Web 2.0 Resources for the Language Arts Teacher

Thursday, March 13, 2014 -- Scott Sterling

In the past few weeks, we’ve taken a tour of some online tools to make your life easier. We covered ways to streamline grading, virtual field trips resources, and audio-visual tools for flipping your classroom and pumping up your presentations. Now it’s the English/language arts teachers’ turn. Just because the country is focused on STEM doesn’t mean the humanities can’t get some love!

Cube Creator

When covering characterization in a story, I know a lot of teachers who have the students make paper cubes that describe the various aspects of a character’s life. They then hang them up around the room while finishing the story.

Cube Creator is a virtual alternative to that project. It also has options for mystery writing and story element study. Then you can just print them out and hang them around the classroom. They really make a better graphic organizer than a worksheet.

Open source graphics

When assigning a report or presentation, every ELA teacher has the fear of inappropriate graphics being used. Students just go to Google Image Search and insert whatever they want into their projects. Even if it’s not dirty, it’s probably not open source, which means it can’t be ethically shared online.

Photo Pin is a great resource for open source photographs. Simply enter your search and dozens of free pictures from Flickr come up, arranged by “interestingness”. The Noun Project is a huge repository of icons and clip art images. Make both links easily accessible on your class website or LMS and you shouldn’t have any more image issues.

NoRedInk

Grammar practice used to mean endless workbooks that offered little in the way of help and even less in the way of engagement. Because of this, grammar work was usually relegated to bellringers or other “filler” time slots in the educational day.

NoRedInk is seeking to change that. Through engaging online tutorials and interactive tasks, students actually start liking grammar. Or, at least, don’t despise it as much. There are also tracking reports on the back end so teachers stay informed.

BoomWriter

There are two types of students in creative writing classes: those who crave writing creatively and will do it for you at the drop of a hat, and those who might have something worthwhile to say but are too self-conscious to share their ideas. BoomWriter was created for the latter.

It’s gamification of writing. Students are given a story starter as chapter 1 of a new book. They are to provide chapter 2. The only limitation is word count. After they submit, other BoomWriters vote on the best chapter. By doing so, they earn points to use to customize their avatar. The book continues in this way until it’s finished. Each of the winning writers receives a copy of their book, professionally printed.