TeachersFirst - Featured Sites: Week of May 21, 2017

Here are this week's features. Clicking the tags in the description area of each listing will present a list of other resources with this topic. | Click here to return to the Featured Sites Archive

 

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Beat the Summer Reading Slump! - ReadWorks

Grades
K to 12
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Beat the Summer Reading Slump! offers reading packets for grades K-12 perfect for reading practice and enrichment over the summer. Choose a grade level, then view the entire packet,...more
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Beat the Summer Reading Slump! offers reading packets for grades K-12 perfect for reading practice and enrichment over the summer. Choose a grade level, then view the entire packet, or individual stories to download or print. Each article includes Lexile levels to indicate reading levels. Some features require a FREE registration.

tag(s): guided reading (45), independent reading (129), summer (12)

In the Classroom

Share these summer reading resources with parents on your class website or print out reading packets for students who don't have computer access while out of school. These articles aren't just for summer! Print and use throughout the year to provide enrichment and remediation in reading instruction. Use as part of your guided reading lessons or as a reading center. Have students create printed comics (or rough drafts) using Printable Comic Strip Templates, reviewed here, or an online comic with one or two characters with Comic Creator, reviewed here. Students can create an online comic strip by using Write Comics, reviewed here. Learn more about Lexile levels and find additional reading resources at TeachersFirst Reading for All located here.
 This resource requires PDF reader software like Adobe Acrobat.

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BookBub - Josh Schanker

Grades
7 to 12
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Looking for a new book to read? Bookbub has it covered. Enter your email address and begin telling BookBub your preferences in genres and your preferred reader device or app ...more
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Looking for a new book to read? Bookbub has it covered. Enter your email address and begin telling BookBub your preferences in genres and your preferred reader device or app (Nook, Kindle, iBook, Google Play, Kobo). You will be presented with a list of authors to follow based on your genres, and then you create your password. Next you will get a list of books recommended for you. Best of all, many of the books are free. You can always put a book under bookmarks, and be alerted when it has a reduced price or is available for free. Under your account and notifications select how often you would like to receive BookBub updates - daily, weekly, and various other choices.
This site includes advertising.

tag(s): book lists (133), independent reading (129), reading lists (79)

In the Classroom

Sign up for BookBub and receive daily emails with book excerpts. Share the excerpts with your class as a way to hook some students into reading or to offer book suggestions. Use the emails as an example of a service that students may want to try. A valid email is required to join this site. Read tips for safely managing email registrations here. Have students choose an interesting excerpt from a book they are reading and share with others via email or on your classroom blog or website.

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CurriConnects Booklist: Award Winning Books - TeachersFirst

Grades
K to 12
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There are many awards for excellent children's books. This collection of books includes winners of many awards, including the Caldecott Medal, Newbery Medal, Boston Globe/Horn Book...more
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There are many awards for excellent children's books. This collection of books includes winners of many awards, including the Caldecott Medal, Newbery Medal, Boston Globe/Horn Book Award, and the Coretta Scott King Book Award. Although the topics vary, the level of quality is consistently the same. CurriConnects thematic book lists include ISBN numbers for ordering or searching, interest grade levels, ESL levels and Lexiles'''® to match student independent reading levels to challenge, not frustrate. For more on text complexity and Lexiles'''®, see this information from the Lexile Framework. Don't miss other CurriConnects themes being added regularly. If your library does not have the books, try interlibrary loan!

tag(s): authors (121), book lists (133), independent reading (129)

In the Classroom

Develop your students' love of reading using these fabulous books. This collection could accompany a unit about famous authors and texts. These books provide experience with both fiction and nonfiction informational texts. This list is ideal for book reports or projects. Allow students (or partners) to choose their own book. Challenge students to create presentations or small group projects to share their story. Share this list with your school library/media specialist or public library, as well, for them to "pull" books in support of your units.

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CommonLit - CommonLit

Grades
4 to 12
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Access commonly taught themes for classic literature and discussion questions for that theme. Plus there are Text Sets perfect for social studies teachers! Choose a Lexile'® grade...more
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Access commonly taught themes for classic literature and discussion questions for that theme. Plus there are Text Sets perfect for social studies teachers! Choose a Lexile'® grade level for reading and download the text in PDF format or read online. Each text has a menu across the top offering Paired Texts, Related Media, Teachers Guide, and Parent Guide. Accompanying the text are critical thinking questions, an Assessment, and some have Guided Reading Mode. Choose the size of the font, listen to the Read Aloud (and pause it), translate to Spanish, and Highlight. Track student progress. All of this for free! What else could one want? Well, you can also request a text, and they will negotiate with the copyright holders to have that text on their site.

tag(s): critical thinking (111), literature (274), themes (12)

In the Classroom

CommonLit is an excellent resource for literature teachers, speech and debate teachers, and history teachers. Share the site with students on an interactive whiteboard or projector, and ask the class what themes they would like to investigate. Under each theme are two questions. Divide the class into small groups with each group investigating one of the questions for one of the themes and reading the accompanying text. Differentiate for students by having students read on the same theme, but at their reading level. Challenge individuals, pairs, or small groups to create a graphic organizer for the story they read using a tool like Holt Interactive Graphic Organizers, reviewed here. This site would also work when you have to make substitute plans unexpectedly. Just put the link in your plans and tell the sub what theme you want students to read about, or better yet, let the sub choose!
 This resource requires PDF reader software like Adobe Acrobat.

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Mighty Book - Mighty Book

Grades
K to 3
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Engage young children in this colorful site, packed with songs, interactive books, art and music interactives, and emergent reading activities. Reaching a wide range of grades, this...more
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Engage young children in this colorful site, packed with songs, interactive books, art and music interactives, and emergent reading activities. Reaching a wide range of grades, this site offers over 50 different engaging activities. Visit the stories made by children. The free part of this site includes a great variety of topics: Boston Tea Party, alphabet, making mistakes, metamorphosis, Mars, a variety of popular children's songs, nouns, upper case and lower case, Beatrix Potter, jokes, Bach & Van Gogh, Mona and Beethoven, and much more! Some of the activities are also available in Spanish. There are extensive advertisements, so adults will need to help guide children away from them!
This site includes advertising.

tag(s): alphabet (89), independent reading (129), preK (289), sight words (37), songs (53)

In the Classroom

Use this site for learning as a whole group, learning centers, or individual laptops for reinforcement or enrichment. First, introduce Mighty Book on your interactive whiteboard or projector. Since there are extensive ads, you may want to bookmark or create shortcuts directly to the activity you want children to use and avoid having them get "lost" in the many links that take you off the site. Share the songs and discuss the lyrics and what they are teaching. Use this site in art class to introduce famous artists to even the youngest of learners. After listening to the jokes, have students make up their own jokes. Poems with activities offer a kinesthetic approach to poetry. Songs about colors and the days of the week catch your auditory learners. Share this link on your class website for students to explore (and enjoy) both in and out of the classroom.
  This resource requires Adobe Flash and PDF reader software like Adobe Acrobat.

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Graphic Organizers for Reading Comprehension - Scholastic.com

Grades
1 to 12
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Looking for ready-made graphic organizers? This time-saving site has numerous organizers available to print in a pinch or to use on an interactive whiteboard. Use these versatile learning...more
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Looking for ready-made graphic organizers? This time-saving site has numerous organizers available to print in a pinch or to use on an interactive whiteboard. Use these versatile learning tools with any book across all grade levels. The categories on the site provide efficient and effective searching. Find graphic organizers for assessing students, plot and sequence, character analysis and setting, reading comprehension, and organizing patterns. Find idea webs, Venn diagrams, timelines, KWL charts, story trains, reading records, and more. Integration ideas accompany each organizer.
This site includes advertising.

tag(s): graphic organizers (43), guided reading (45), independent reading (129), reading comprehension (119)

In the Classroom

Print and save the graphic organizers for use throughout the year. The organizers also work well on interactive whiteboards or projectors. These organizers are especially helpful when teaching different text structures found in informational text as required with Common Core. Use the organizers for writer's workshop or reading instruction. Share organizers when preparing for standardized tests to help students organize information. Use the organizers to identify the strengths and weaknesses of your student's thought process.
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LitPick - LitPick

Grades
4 to 12
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LitPick is a great place to find preteen and teen literature reviewed by students from all over the world. Discover the latest reads reviewed by students. Students apply to ...more
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LitPick is a great place to find preteen and teen literature reviewed by students from all over the world. Discover the latest reads reviewed by students. Students apply to become a reviewer, along with an adult sponsor, and get a free eBook or print book. Choose a book by age or genre. Read within 4-6 weeks and write a 5-10 sentence review summarizing the book, without giving away the ending. Submit and receive feedback before the final review is approved and published. Receive points and badges for well written reviews. Find books listed by author, genre, or age group. Adult members of LitPick can participate in the monthly book giveaway contest and newsletter that features student book reviews and special offers. Sign up to receive the latest announcement and promotional giveaways. Start book clubs, or use in classes. LitPick was selected as Best Website for Teaching and Learning by the American Association of School Librarians, and selected for the Gold Award from Mom's Choice and the Association of Independent Authors. LitPick also hosts a video review channel titled BookTube residing on YouTube. If your district blocks YouTube, the videos may not be viewable. You could always view them at home and bring them to class "on a stick" to share. Use a tool such as Freemake Video Converter, reviewed here, to download the videos from YouTube.

tag(s): expository writing (44), independent reading (129), literature (274), literature circles (5)

In the Classroom

Use this site for a real reviewer's experience or simply to find great books. Evaluate other reviews and make a list of noteworthy reviewing techniques. Students choose the latest new reads before they are released to the public. Sign up individual students, groups or students, or your class to read a book together and write a review. Challenge your gifted ones to work on this authentic review task. This site is perfect to use for literature circles. Create your own "LitPick" on your school library site. Have students involve parents as their sponsor for greater parental involvement and excitement. Get the newest books free.
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Going Deep with Award Winning Books: Close reading and text-dependent questions - TeachersFirst

Grades
K to 6
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This installment in a series of articles about implementing Common Core in elementary focuses on close reading of texts in Caldecott award winning books. Since Caldecott winners tend...more
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This installment in a series of articles about implementing Common Core in elementary focuses on close reading of texts in Caldecott award winning books. Since Caldecott winners tend to be available in most libraries, what better way to start the practice of close reading and questioning a la Common Core. A major shift of the Common Core State Standards is to have reading, writing, listening and speaking grounded in evidence , from both literary and informational texts. As a result, terms like "close reading" and "text-dependent questions" are getting a lot of attention. Find ideas to implement this shift. The article is intended for elementary teachers as part of our Help! I lost my library/media specialist series.

tag(s): commoncore (95)

In the Classroom

If you are fortunate enough to have a library/media specialist to partner with you, try these ideas together during read-alouds both in the library/media center and in your classroom. Mark this article in your favorites and refer back to it as you move forward with Common Core.

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Summer Reading: Not Just for Kids! - TeachersFirst

Grades
K to 6
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This installment in the Help I lost my library/media specialist series is just in time for summer break. Find summer reading suggestions to inspire, refresh, and get you fired...more
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This installment in the Help I lost my library/media specialist series is just in time for summer break. Find summer reading suggestions to inspire, refresh, and get you fired up for fall. Find professional book selections and blogspiration to take to the beach or read on your mobile device. This series tries to fill just a tiny part of the void left by budget cuts. Teachers need our library/media specialists as our professional "connectors" to great reading choices, too!

tag(s): book lists (133), independent reading (129)

In the Classroom

Mark this one in your TeachersFirst favorites, even if you have NO time to even LOOK at it right now. Share it with your student teacher, mentoree, recent teacher ed graduate, and newbie teachers as they go off on break, too. Read what you have time for this summer, and save the rest for a break later on.

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Award Winning Kids' Books - Reading Rockets

Grades
K to 12
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If you are looking for recent children's literature award winning books, this is the site for you. Reading Rockets has an excellent compilation of major awards such as Caldecott Medal...more
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If you are looking for recent children's literature award winning books, this is the site for you. Reading Rockets has an excellent compilation of major awards such as Caldecott Medal and Newbery Awards along with other less known but note-worthy recognitions. In addition, many "best of" lists are included from recent years. This is an excellent resource for classroom teachers, library/media specialists, and parents. Schools without media specialists may find this especially useful as a resource for the newest and most highly-regarded literature. Be sure to also check out the many other resources offered on this site such as Reading Guides, Classroom Strategies, and the many videos available about reading.
This site includes advertising.

tag(s): book lists (133), book reports (37), guided reading (45), independent reading (129), literacy (106), literature (274)

In the Classroom

Share this site with other teachers as a resource for locating recent literature and for book orders. Keep this site handy as a resource for ideas for student reading material, book clubs, summer reading lists, book circles, and classroom read-alouds. Be sure to list this site on your class website for students to access both in and out of school. After reading a new book, rather than having students complete a traditional book report, have students make a multimedia presentation using one of the many TeachersFirst Edge tools reviewed here. Be sure to share the link with parents, too!

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5 Minute Mystery - Mystery Competition, LLC

Grades
4 to 12
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This mystery reading game helps increase reading comprehension and critical thinking skills in an innovative way. The basic game is free. You can sign up to have two mysteries a ...more
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This mystery reading game helps increase reading comprehension and critical thinking skills in an innovative way. The basic game is free. You can sign up to have two mysteries a week sent to you, or you can use their archive. There is a "How to Play" section where you can view a video, open pdf instructions, or look at the instructions online. After reading a mystery you select the correct sentences that are clues, and select a character that the clue either exonerates or implicates. Points are awarded for each clue you get correct. For a fee, you can get a premium account that has graphic organizers, questions, and writing suggestions, however, this review is for the free, basic version. Even with the basic program, you can look under lesson plans and find objectives and ideas for your classroom and for creating leagues.

Bonus: There's an app for that! For the iphone, of course!
This site includes advertising.

tag(s): critical thinking (111), mysteries (24), reading comprehension (119), short stories (24)

In the Classroom

Use your projector and interactive whiteboard to show your students the directions for getting points by selecting the correct clues and solving the mystery. To begin with, as a class, read a mystery and discuss what the clues might be and whether they implicate or exonerate each suspect. Once the students have volunteered their ideas for which sentences are clues, submit them to see the score. The program will highlight the answers you should have had, if you got any wrong. Model for your students a discussion about why those are the correct answers and why the ones they submitted weren't. Eventually they can have this discussion by themselves in small groups. Those of you with multiple classes will want to create a league for each class.

Eventually you can have small groups of students compete against each other by creating leagues. Have your students come to consensus about the clue sentences and who the real perpetrator is by voting using Tricider, reviewed here, or Decide Already, reviewed here.

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TeachersFirst's Interactive Audio Books Resources - TeachersFirst

Grades
K to 12
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These educator-reviewed resources from TeachersFirst offer audio books in interactive form so all students, including emerging readers and ESL/ELL learners, can experience reading with...more
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These educator-reviewed resources from TeachersFirst offer audio books in interactive form so all students, including emerging readers and ESL/ELL learners, can experience reading with audio and visual prompts or interactivity to reinforce and inspire literacy skills and enjoyment as they read. Be sure to explore each site, as many include multiple types of activities, including the interactive books.

tag(s): audio books (29)

In the Classroom

Mark this one in your professional favorites AND share it on a class web page for access by students and parents. The helpful reviews suggest ideas for ways to use the audio books in the classroom or outside of school to reinforce literacy skills, improve English skills, or study literature in new ways.

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TweenTribune - Alan Jacobson

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K to 12
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TweenTribune has joined with Smithsonian and now offers the news in Lexile levels for k-4, 5-8, 9-12. That is not the only change. The Smithsonian TweenTribune now has several ...more
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TweenTribune has joined with Smithsonian and now offers the news in Lexile levels for k-4, 5-8, 9-12. That is not the only change. The Smithsonian TweenTribune now has several new features, including a Dashboard for assignments and classrooms, assigning a story to all with one click, and self-scoring quizzes for articles. There are now free apps for the iPad and iPhone. TweenTribune continues to include open-ended critical thinking questions and a daily quiz using multiple sources. This site is still jam packed with current news stories that are chosen by site coordinators for all reading levels. The articles are easy to read, relate to, and understand. The site is easy to navigate with a subject indexed toolbar, and it is searchable. All stories are current because the creators scour the internet weekly for age-appropriate material. It greatly reduces the pressure of searching by giving an article research tool that is much more specific than simply using a search engine.

tag(s): news (265), newspapers (97)

In the Classroom

The sky is the limit for potential and possibilities with this website. There are some minor warnings. If you want to allow your students to post to a blog, you will need to create a class and then have them enroll. The great news is that is free. As the teacher, you can moderate or delete posts before they are public. There are lessons available on the site as well as a "Teacher's Lounge" where lesson ideas can be exchanged. In a language arts classroom, students could be assigned to read and blog as a weekly writing assignment. The teacher can assign a specific article or have students choose. Have students read their articles on a podcast using podOmatic, reviewed here. In science, articles from this site could be used to supplement science textbook reading with current articles that better interest students. Articles are short and provide quick practice pieces for non-fiction reading comprehension. Project a story and ask students to write their own sentence for the main idea or to summarize. These quick pieces would fit well on your interactive whiteboard. SmithsonianTweenTribune Espanol allows students to read daily news articles in Spanish and post comments about the stories they read. Teachers moderate all comments before the comments are posted.

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Science News for Students - Society for Science and the Public

Grades
3 to 12
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Kid-friendly science articles to intrigue all ages fill this freshly-redesigned site. Browse menus for illustrated news articles on "Inventions & Innovations," "Space," "Culture," "Body...more
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Kid-friendly science articles to intrigue all ages fill this freshly-redesigned site. Browse menus for illustrated news articles on "Inventions & Innovations," "Space," "Culture," "Body & Brain" or "Technology." A featured articles and "in the news" items make a big splash across the top of the home page to draw interest. Many articles list "POWER WORDS" at the end, highlighting terms and definitions used within that article. The page layouts and whitespace make the online articles uncluttered and legible. The site has reorganized into a structure that roughly parallels school curriculum, so it is even easier to find articles connected to specific science areas.

tag(s): agriculture (57), animals (290), computers (92), dinosaurs (57), engineering (127), environment (318), news (265), nutrition (158), weather (194)

In the Classroom

Use Science News for Kids as a great reading and reporting assignment. Weaker readers will need a reading buddy for some of the more challenging article. Classes in lower grades will want to read the articles together. A quick check on one article using Juicy Studio's Readability test, reviewed here, provided an approximate grade level of 6.5. Check articles before assigning to elementary students. Students can find an article of interest to read, summarize, and report to the class as part of a Science in My World unit or regular science current events activity. Have students create commercials about their topics. Video and share using a site such as SchoolTube, reviewed here. Students can use these news articles to find additional relevant information on the internet. Students may find these topics to be great independent study topics. Teach reading comprehension using these factual articles on your interactive whiteboard, asking students to highlight key words and generate a "main idea" sentence using them. Articles offer ideal practice for informational reading questions on high-stakes reading tests.

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