Reading in the Content Areas
TeachersFirst offers this collection of web resources well suited to teach reading in the content areas, especially in science and social studies classes, but in almost ANY subject area. See "In the classroom" ideas and strategies for teaching reading across the curriculum and find texts to use on the computer, in print, or in interactive whiteboard/projector. Sometimes using web-based texts can be more engaging, and often these are more up-to-date. Practice with these resources is certain to help student mastery of informational texts.
Grades4 to 12
In the ClassroomUse this site with ESL/ELL learners as designed. Share the lessons on your interactive whiteboard or projector. If individual computers are available, have students view the lessons independently (with headsets) and create multimedia projects to demonstrate what they have learned. Have students create an interactive online poster using Genial.ly, reviewed here. Better yet, if students get used to the video and exercise formats, have them produce similar videos teaching a few lessons about their home cultures! Share the videos using a tool such as SchoolTube, reviewed here.
Special ed teachers and those seeking combination video/text lessons to use to teach listening/reading comprehension may find these lessons valuable, as well.
Grades2 to 12
In the ClassroomTeachers and students on all grade levels will love usingSnappy Words for all subjects. Demonstrate it on your classroom whiteboard or projector, bookmark it in your favorites, and make it directly available to students from your class webpage. Elementary students will enjoy defining their spelling words or content area vocabulary. They can categorize their words by parts of speech or create a list of synonyms. Students can then create their own word "maps" for new vocabulary words using drawing tools or online graphic organizers like bubbl.us, reviewed here. Middle school, high school and adult learners can use it as a valuable tool for vocabulary specific to a literary work or subject area, preparing for a standardized test, or while reading assigned material or a book, poem, or article of choice. Whether you are writing content for an article, a blog, a letter, or any assignment, minimize this website and play with words to avoid repetition, choose precise meanings and kick your vocabulary up a notch! Share this one on your class web page, for sure.
GradesK to 12
In the ClassroomMark this collection as a MUST have for teaching reading to students struggling to apply more than decoding skills. Pay special attention to some of the "In the classroom" tips for unexpected ways to use these sites to teach reading along with other subjects.
Grades9 to 12
In the ClassroomTake advantage of the free lesson plans and classroom activities on this site! This lesson plan would be great for a Philosophy, History or Chinese language class. Be sure to save the site as a favorite to allow for easy reference later on.
GradesK to 5
In the ClassroomReach out to the artists and visual learners in your class. ESL/ELL instructors will find the gorgeous graphics and "visual vocabulary" a fantastic way to communicate concepts to second language learners. Literacyhead will spark ideas for instruction that address the diverse learning styles in classrooms today. Use this site to help students draw connections between text, and prompt thoughtful conversations. Ask students to create their own "visual vocabulary" illustrations. Download the free graphic organizers. This site offers reproducible graphic tools to reinforce comprehension and writing strategies but also some meant to develop critical and creative thought. Share this site with your teaching colleagues who work with your learning support students.
GradesK to 12
In the ClassroomUse this when technology access is low or you want to print an activity for students to do when you are not there to supervise the technology use. Create in class reading from blogs or other websites that are appropriate for your classroom. Make a pdf that can be opened on your interactive whiteboard without all the ads and clutter of the web page so students can annotate, highlight, and even practice reading comprehension skills such as "main idea." List this link on your class website for families to try at home! Use it to share articles with parents, as well--as long as you model proper behavior by giving credit.
Grades1 to 5
In the ClassroomHave students try out this site on individual computers, with head phones, or let them listen in pairs. Before they go to the questions, ask them to list the questions the site might ask them after they have seen the model of one story. Share this link on your class web page, wiki, and/or in a parent newsletter. Share the site with special language teachers at the elementary level.
Grades2 to 8
In the ClassroomEncourage your students to revise and edit their writing by turning their stories into stopmotion movies. Have students work in small groups to visually re-create events from their own writing. This will help develop stronger characters, dialogue, and draw attention to the elements of time and place. The planning sheets are a helpful tool to help students examine story structure and sequence. Alternatively, develop reading comprehension and fluency by asking students to re-create a fable or folktale. The new term for this is "Readers stopmotion." Teachers may want to be comfortable using a digital camera and movie making programs before embarking on this project."
Challenge students to share their videos on a site such as TeacherTube reviewed here or post them on your class website. Get parent permission before posting any student work on this sharing site and check with your school administrator to be sure that your school allows students to post videos on-line. Teachers may want to be comfortable using a digital camera/webcam and movie making programs before embarking on this project.
Grades9 to 12
In the ClassroomDuring discussion of the Kingdom Monera, learn more about bacteria and our health with these articles which many will find informative and interesting. Consider creating blog posts or newsletter articles that can be shared between classes. Identify the common misconceptions of the role of bacteria in our lives. Create a class bacteria wiki. Learn more about wikis at the TeachersFirst's Wiki Walk-Through. These text articles can also be copied easily to your interactive whiteboard software for practice with science notetaking, main idea, summarizing, and more as part of content area reading practice.
Grades3 to 12
There are additional features if you choose to subscribe, particularly the Visual Thesaurus interactive word maps, which can be saved and printed, and an online edition in multiple languages for English-speaking students learning other languages and ESL/ELL students.
Caution! Before purchasing a subscription, see if the free portion of the website satisfies your needs or take advantage of the 14-day risk-free trial to see all the features in action. When a school subscription is purchased, student workbooks and Teachers' Guide with lesson plans are included.
In the ClassroomTeachers and students can use the VocabGrabber on an interactive whiteboard, projector, or individual computers to highlight vocabulary specific to a literary work or curricular subject area, to improve reading comprehension by choosing key concepts and literary terms, and to build background knowledge for a given text. As an added benefit, have students click on the VocabGrabber when typing their own assignments such as a poem or an essay, to avoid repeating the same word. They simply type in a word and generate a list of synonyms and more descriptive words. VocabGrabber enables students to see how words are used in context, instead of memorizing word lists. Additionally, VocabGrabber is extremely helpful for students preparing for standardized tests. Be sure to include this site on your class web page for students to access both in and outside of class for further practice.
Grades6 to 12
In the ClassroomShare this site on your interactive whiteboard or projector. Use the Gateway for information or supplementing the curriculum. Additionally, the Gateway can be used to introduce projects or investigations of world issues. Connect with the journalists to show actual research and personal investigations into these stories. Connect reading and writing across the curriculum no matter your content area using statistics, geography, and many other skills. For example, "Water Wars" is a must see no matter what subject you teach. Use one of these issues as a theme for building reading comprehension and research skills, perhaps creating a class wiki guide to the topic or inviting students to write blog posts as the different people affected by the problem. Why not provide this link on your class website for students to share with their families to promote interesting discussions at home, as well.
GradesK to 12
tag(s): webquests (30)
In the ClassroomNO skills are needed to view and use trails created by others. Explore, find, and save the URL for the trail you want your students to use. To be able to create trails, join the site (email required, but no waiting for verification email). Download the Trailfire toolbar (you will be prompted to do this when you register). You do NOT need this toolbar to FOLLOW trails, only to create them or "see" marks left behind by others on the web. Note that any computer equipped with the Trailfire plug-in installed will also "see" any public "marks" left on pages by other Trailfire users. If your school computer does not allow downloads, you can create trails at home for use by students.
Once you join and download the plug-in simply click the Trailfire "mark page" button on your toolbar whenever you visit a site on which you would like to comment. The sidebar (which you can keep open or close with the x) offers hints as you learn to use Trailfire. If you are preparing a trail for students to follow, Add "marks" (like sticky notes) to each web page on your trail. These can include comments, directions, etc. To share your trail, go to "My stuff" and get the trail URL (tiny orange text!)
If you are only USING trails or creating them for your students to use, there are no safety issues. If you are having students create trails they will need to log in and work on computers with the Trailfire download installed. You might want to consider using a whole-class account with your own (extra) email as the log. Students who create trails will want to have strict policies about avoiding these areas where the general public could create topics for trails inappropriate for the classroom.
Have students create visual bibliographies of sites they used for a project and what they learned there, or create student trails of different types of volcanoes (explaining them in markers). Challenge students to create trails of examples of the bill of rights in operation or the three branches of government in real life, or student commentary on web page bias, or even student explanations of grammatical errors they find---with markers explaining the CORRECTIONS! Teacher-created trails for students doing project-based learning, including notes on which sites might be more challenging reading or include a good introduction, key terms and definitions in markers on a page with challenging reading, purpose-setting "markers" for reading comprehension practice using web articles. What other ideas can YOU add?
Grades7 to 12
In the ClassroomHave the students make a cumulative map of all Hudson's voyages together in order for them to get a chance to become intimately familiar with the map making process. Try a site such as Woices (beta) (reviewed here). Woices allows students to create audio recordings AND choose a location on a map where each story takes place. Have each cooperative learning group focus on a different exploration. Compare their creations with the online map which has all four voyages combined. Assign students in a group each a few pages of an imagined journal Henry might have written on each voyage. The most interesting part will be to imagine what happened to him after people no longer heard from him! Use this site as the starting point for individual research papers. Encourage students to find other resources that contribute to their knowledge of Henry Hudson. Have students write a talk Hudson might give if he suddenly woke up today (like Rip Van Winkle). Or make it more Web 2.0 and have students write blog entries. The text passages on this site are also ideal for reading comprehension practice. Project them on an interactive whiteboard for practice in main idea, summarizing, and more.
Grades8 to 12
tag(s): weather (194)
In the ClassroomStudents could be assigned different false science statements to research and design their own science news articles comparing fact and fiction. Why not make this a multimedia project and have students complete a podcast, online poster, or narrated photo! For podcasts, try PodOmatic, reviewed here. To create an online poster use a site such as Padlet (reviewed here). Challenge cooperative learning groups to find a photo related to their topic (legally permitted to be reproduced), and then label the photo by adding voice bubbles to explain what they learned using a tool such as Superlame, reviewed here. To find Creative Commons images for student projects (with credit, of course), try Compfight, reviewed here. A class could also be assigned a specific false science fact to research and participate in a class blog or message board discussion via the class web page or wiki site. Students could also use the fiction as the basis for their own "Myth busters" episodes. Reading teachers looking for passages to use in reading comprehension practice, such as finding main idea and supporting details will find these non-fiction passages informative and interesting for their students. Make a temporary copy of one of the explanations to display in your interactive whiteboard software as students highlight key ideas and separate out supporting details using the whiteboard tools. Your science teachers will LOVE you for it!
Grades6 to 12
In the ClassroomBe sure to tell your students that they are NOT the "dummies" referred to in this site! Then go beyond the obvious use of this site as a reference to use it to teach informational writing, reading comprehension, or any curriculum content. Share text-based articles on a projector or interactive whiteboard and have students analyze the keywords and structure of sequential direction-writing or informational writing before they try it on their own. Use the pens and highlighters to note transitions and other ways of organizing directions, including formatting. Use articles to teach basic comprehension skills by copy/pasting sections and having students drag them into the correct sequence on the whiteboard to form logical directions. In science or social studies classes, have students view models on this site, then work in groups to write their own how-to wiki on curriculum topics such as "How to tell a fungus from a bacterium," "How to solve simultaneous equations," or "How to form a government." If you have access to video equipment, have students write scripts and produce video versions of their how-to instructions and post them on a site such as TeacherTube reviewed here.
GradesK to 12
In the ClassroomThe 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.
Grades4 to 12
tag(s): critical thinking (111)
In the ClassroomFollow the guide to lesson plans for great activities on "Deductive and Inductive Reasoning," "The Language of Deception," and "Background Beliefs" among many others. Attachments for each activity include student and teacher handouts. Use these lessons for 21st century literacy skills as well as for traditional reading comprehension activities made relevant to today's "reading" media.
Grades3 to 12
In the ClassroomUse 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.
Grades1 to 12
One disadvantage of the site is that you can only enter a keyword when you get to the third step. After a book list based on interests appears, then you can search by keyword to make the search zero in on specifics. When teachers or students select books for a reading list, they can then click to see the complete list of books they have selected. Clicking on a book title leads to another screen, but it does not contain a book summary; instead, it has a list of other keywords for the book along with other book data.