TeachersFirst - Featured Sites: Week of Jan 19, 2020

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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Writing Movie Reviews - Scholastic and Angela Bunyi

Grades
3 to 8
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This lesson plan and the student printables offer a starting point for teaching the art of review writing. The included templates guide students through the observation and evaluation...more
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This lesson plan and the student printables offer a starting point for teaching the art of review writing. The included templates guide students through the observation and evaluation process as they reflect upon movie reviews and write a review based upon the supplied rubric.

tag(s): movies (65), writing (359)

In the Classroom

Make the most of students' interest in movies to engage them in the art of writing reviews using the lesson plan and materials as a starting point. Engage students by polling them using Dotstorming, reviewed here, to select a movie to review together. Once you have modeled this process, create a Padlet, reviewed here, for you and your students to share additional movie suggestions. Organize your Padlet into columns based upon movie genres and encourage students to review movies from more than one genre during your movie review activities. Enhance student learning by tying your activities into real-world events like the Oscars. Search for Oscar-themed lesson ideas at ReadWriteThink, reviewed here, that helps students view movies beyond the role of a participant, but also from the viewpoint as a film crew member or writer. Extend learning even further by placing students into the role of a film critic through creating podcasts to share on your class or school website. In addition to movie reviews, ask students to take the role of journalists and interview different members of the film crew for the movie they are reviewing. Buzzsprout, reviewed here, offers many free podcasting tools suitable for classroom use.
 This resource requires PDF reader software like Adobe Acrobat.

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ProWritingAid - Orpheus Technology

Grades
K to 12
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Improve your writing with this Chrome browser extension. Follow the directions to download the extension and begin using it. In addition to highlighting grammar and spelling errors,...more
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Improve your writing with this Chrome browser extension. Follow the directions to download the extension and begin using it. In addition to highlighting grammar and spelling errors, this add-on also provides suggestions for improving the clarity of wording. Other features include highlighting sentence length variations, passive voice, and more.

tag(s): editing (80), grammar (204), proofreading (25), spelling (166), writing (359)

In the Classroom

Use this excellent, free browser extension to improve your writing and your students' writing. Never send home a newsletter with spelling or writing errors again. Install the browser onto all classroom computers for students to use for editing purposes with all written work. Ask students to take a screenshot of their initial work and include it with the final project. Have students analyze their writing for common errors and reflect upon a plan to make improvements. Compile a list of common writing errors made by your students and use that information as a basis for writing lessons. Extend learning by asking students to write and produce podcasts using Buzzsprout, reviewed here, to share an ongoing series of writing tips and suggestions.

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Twitter Chat: Tips, Tools, and Strategies for Digital Writing - TeachersFirst

Grades
K to 12
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This archived Twitter chat is from November 2019 and will open in Wakelet. The title of this chat is: Tips, Tools, and Strategies for Digital Writing. During this chat, participants...more
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This archived Twitter chat is from November 2019 and will open in Wakelet. The title of this chat is: Tips, Tools, and Strategies for Digital Writing. During this chat, participants will: 1. Define digital writing and discuss its place within new digital literacies, 2. Explore strategies that support learning across subject areas, and 3. Share tips for using tech tools to support multimodal literacy.

tag(s): digital storytelling (149), process writing (43), twitterchatarchive (70), writing (359)

In the Classroom

Find resources and information about how to integrate digital writing into your learning environment. Share this chat with your colleagues looking for resources related to limited technology.

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Teach Writing With The New York Times: A Free School-Year Curriculum in 7 Units - New York Times Learning Network

Grades
7 to 12
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Take advantage of prize-winning journalism published by the New York Times to teach writing to middle and high school students. The staff at the Learning Network of the New York ...more
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Take advantage of prize-winning journalism published by the New York Times to teach writing to middle and high school students. The staff at the Learning Network of the New York Times shares a curriculum focused on seven different genres of writing. Each unit includes daily writing prompts, guided practice, mentor texts, opportunities for student work to be published on the New York Times site, and culminates in a monthly writing contest.
This site includes advertising.

tag(s): creative writing (157), critical thinking (122), descriptive writing (42), essays (23), journalism (69), persuasive writing (55), Research (20), writing (359)

In the Classroom

This writing curriculum includes units for bi-monthly teaching activities, be sure to bookmark this website to view and take advantage of lessons throughout the school year. Begin your unit using a learning management system like ActivelyLearn, reviewed here, to share articles with students. ActivelyLearn allows educators to integrate assignment directions, polls, companion videos, and more to create an in-depth learning experience. Enhance learning and help students identify writing techniques within the articles shared in each unit using Fiskkit, reviewed here. Fiskkit allows groups to collaboratively examine and discuss online articles by highlighting sentences and sharing thoughts. For example, during the first unit focused on the Personal Narrative Essay, use Fiskkit for students to find and discuss details, including examples of writing with voice and use of specific examples instead of broad descriptions. As your unit moves into focusing on student-created work, use FlipGrid, reviewed here, to amplify student's voice and discuss topics for the culminating personal narrative writing project. Pose a question on Flipgrid for students to share portions of a personal narrative they have read, then discuss what makes that portion of the writing stand out. Help students collaborate on ideas for their narratives using a Flipgrid video question asking students to share two or three ideas they have for their narrative and asking peers to share their ideas on what they consider to be most interesting or sharing ideas for inclusion. As a final project, use Sway, reviewed here, to publish and share student work. Create a class Sway with all student work, or ask students to create their own Sway to include their writing, a link to the New York Times article inspiration, images, and more.

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Contexted - Contexted

Grades
8 to 12
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Contexted uses your text and notes to build a Wiki-like knowledge base. Type or paste in your text and highlight words to create links to online resources or add notes. ...more
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Contexted uses your text and notes to build a Wiki-like knowledge base. Type or paste in your text and highlight words to create links to online resources or add notes. Contexted creates mindmaps using your notes to form visualizations of related content. Free accounts include unlimited content, mindmap view, and markdown export.

tag(s): collages (18), note taking (43), organizational skills (109)

In the Classroom

Use Contexted as a collaborative note taking tool to use with peers. Create an account for all of you to use, then add notes, links, and information in one place as needed. Have students use Contexted's mind mapping feature to plan and outline writing projects. Create a class account and have students use it for note taking. When finished, all students will have access to the entire class's notes.

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Write and Improve - Cambridge English

Grades
5 to 12
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Write and Improve provides practice and instant feedback on writing responses to prompts. Choose from one of the many provided topics to begin. Narrow down options based on writing...more
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Write and Improve provides practice and instant feedback on writing responses to prompts. Choose from one of the many provided topics to begin. Narrow down options based on writing levels from beginner to advanced. Writing choices range from postcard responses to longer articles. After writing your response, select the link to receive feedback. Feedback includes a graph of your writing level and tracks revisions. Create a free account to save your work and access all material on the site. This site was created in England so some spellings and pronunciations may be different from the American usages.

tag(s): creative writing (157), descriptive writing (42), differentiation (52), letter writing (18), persuasive writing (55), process writing (43), writers workshop (35), writing (359)

In the Classroom

Feedback on this site is based on the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR) scale, learn more about it here. Include this site with your other resources for practicing and teaching writing as you challenge students to improve feedback scores. Take advantage of the different levels to differentiate practice for all students. Ask students to analyze their writing before hitting the feedback button as a self-reflection tool. As students improve writing, use a digital portfolio tool like Seesaw, reviewed here, and upload all revisions. Also, use Seesaw for students to share their thoughts on their writing and individual progress.

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StoryLab - Adventure Cow

Grades
2 to 12
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Write a story and create interactive choose your own adventure games with StoryLab. After signing up using email and verification of your account, begin a story with the start page....more
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Write a story and create interactive choose your own adventure games with StoryLab. After signing up using email and verification of your account, begin a story with the start page. Add links to items in your story to direct readers to different parts of the adventure. Be sure to watch the tutorial videos and visit the help pages for step by step directions on creating and sharing your games.

tag(s): creative writing (157), writing (359)

In the Classroom

Share StoryLab with students as an alternative to traditional story-writing projects. Because StoryLab features may not be intuitive to all users, consider sharing this site with a few tech-savvy students first and let them be the experts to help other students in creating books. Have older students create choose your own adventure books to discuss events in history. For example, when learning about Civil Rights, have students share options for what might happen if Martin Luther King hadn't been assassinated. Use these stories as a basis for student podcasts about moments in history and how different events shaped and changed history. Podcast Generator, reviewed here, includes features for recording and sharing podcasts.

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ReadWriteThink Notetaker - ReadWriteThink

Grades
3 to 12
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Notetaker is an interactive tool for organizing information for reading and writing projects. Open the interactive to begin by adding your name and title of your project. Choose from...more
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Notetaker is an interactive tool for organizing information for reading and writing projects. Open the interactive to begin by adding your name and title of your project. Choose from three different options for the outline style. The tutorial provides information on using and personalizing the outline including adding sections, drag and drop to move boxes, and how to delete portions of the outline. This interactive also includes a preview option to view the outline before sharing. Click finish to print your work or copy and paste your outline from the preview into a word document.

tag(s): note taking (43), organizational skills (109), process writing (43), writing (359)

In the Classroom

Notetaker is a fantastic tool for teaching students how to outline and also for furthering knowledge of those familiar with outlines. Take advantage of this free interactive and the link to lessons that include this interactive to supplement your current teaching materials. Share Notetaker on your interactive whiteboard to demonstrate how to build and add content to an outline. Create outlines together as a class to summarize reading materials, information about cultures around the world, or steps taken during science experiments. Include Notetaker with your other links for student resources on your class webpage and classroom computers. Ask students to print outlines and include with any writing project, or have students copy their outline onto a Google document to accompany their project.
 
 This resource requires Adobe Flash.

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The Most Dangerous Writing Prompt App - Manuel Ebert

Grades
4 to 12
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Can you type for three minutes without stopping for more than five seconds? How about five minutes or longer - up to an hour? This website tests your writing persistence. ...more
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Can you type for three minutes without stopping for more than five seconds? How about five minutes or longer - up to an hour? This website tests your writing persistence. Choose how long you want to write or how many words then start writing. If you hesitate for five seconds, all of your work disappears. However, if you make it to the set amount of time, you can download what you typed.

tag(s): creative writing (157), journals (20), writing (359)

In the Classroom

The creator of this app states that it "is designed to shut down your inner editor and get you into a state of flow." Share the app with students to use as a non-threatening way to practice putting their thoughts down without worrying about grammar, spelling, or being graded. Use the app as part of brainstorming sessions before beginning writing projects. Instead of using paper and pencil for journal writing, use this site as students become more comfortable with non-stop typing for a set amount of time (or number of words).

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Imagine Forest - Imagine Forest

Grades
K to 6
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Imagine Forest offers tools to create and publish stories from anywhere. Start by creating your free account to access the many resources found on the site. Begin writing right away...more
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Imagine Forest offers tools to create and publish stories from anywhere. Start by creating your free account to access the many resources found on the site. Begin writing right away by uploading one of your own images or find inspiration by exploring the site. Choose the Activities link to earn points through writing challenges. Choose the Write link to create your own storybook using an image provided by Imagine Forest or uploading your own. Other activities include options like Fill in the blank stories, Character Creator, and a Rhyming Dictionary.

tag(s): creative writing (157), digital storytelling (149), writing (359), writing prompts (77)

In the Classroom

Imagine Forest is a must-have resource for elementary teachers of writing. Even your most reluctant writers will enjoy activities included on the site. Share how to use the site on your interactive whiteboard or with a projector then allow students to explore on their own. Challenge students to set daily goals using activities found in challenges. Publish and share student work to create your own classroom library of student-created books. Ask students to create books for any content area studied during class, be sure to upload and include images taken during activities for students to use in their books. Create a classroom chart for students to share accomplishments like badges and points earned while using the site.

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WriteWell - WriteWell

Grades
5 to 12
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WriteWell is a set of clear and easy to use writing tools designed to help with the writing process while making the process fun and engaging for you and students. ...more
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WriteWell is a set of clear and easy to use writing tools designed to help with the writing process while making the process fun and engaging for you and students. Start by searching for templates for any particular type of writing or select from content links on the home page. Each writing template includes a complete example, description of how to write in this format, the option to download the template, and a link to begin work in the online app. Creating an account isn't required to use the tools in WriteWell; however, it does offer many options for saving and sharing your work.
This site includes advertising.

tag(s): creative writing (157), descriptive writing (42), expository writing (38), letter writing (18), paragraph writing (14), persuasive writing (55), process writing (43), writers workshop (35), writing (359)

In the Classroom

WriteWell is a must-have for all teachers. Use this site for your own professional use in graduate work. Share a link on your class website for student use at home. Share the steps and information within any template as a guide for teaching different writing styles. Have students enhance a previous project by using tools within WriteWell, then have them compare and discuss the differences. Substitute paper and pen self edits and peer edits by having students write their documtents in Google or Word, then have students highlight and add comments sharing changes to their text. Include before and after documents in an online student portfolio like PortfolioVillage, reviewed here. PortfolioVillage allows you to embed videos and enhance student learning by asking students to upload a short video discussion of their revisions to any document. Enhance student learning with a culminating activity: have students create a video tutorial of different styles of writing using a video creation tool like FlexClip, reviewed here.

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Digital Storytelling Resources - TeachersFirst

Grades
K to 12
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This editor's choice curated list of reviewed resources focuses on digital storytelling. Engage and excite students to get writing. Many of the tools shared are device agnostic and...more
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This editor's choice curated list of reviewed resources focuses on digital storytelling. Engage and excite students to get writing. Many of the tools shared are device agnostic and will work on all devices in both web browsers and apps. Find tools ideal for all grades. Use digital storytelling in all subject areas to assess, collaborate, share results, and more. Find options in the resources for student projects. View and learn from the professional resources shared.

tag(s): digital storytelling (149), writing (359)

In the Classroom

Find an abundance of digital writing tools to use in your classroom. Share sites on your interactive whiteboard. Challenge students to create their own projects using tools on this list. Rather than a unit test, have students create a book demonstrating their understanding of concepts. Bring out creativity with these engaging tools!

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Writing Sparks - Wonky Star LTD

Grades
K to 12
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Writing Sparks provides free instant writing challenges for students of all ages. Find a spark by choosing to begin as a teacher or student. Teachers choose the age range of ...more
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Writing Sparks provides free instant writing challenges for students of all ages. Find a spark by choosing to begin as a teacher or student. Teachers choose the age range of students, the type of spark from choices like story, poems, news article, or opinion; set the time limit, then begin. A random spark generates with a 2 minute planning period including suggested items to consider during the writing period. Upon completion of the planning time, the writing period begins with a timer to show elapsed time. The student choice includes additional planning options with suggestions for items to include with the writing. When finished, download onto your computer as a PDF.

tag(s): creative writing (157), persuasive writing (55), poetry (222), preK (280), writing (359)

In the Classroom

If you are stuck trying to find interesting writing prompts for your students, this site is for you! Bookmark this site and add to your collection of writing tools. Share on your interactive whiteboard or with a projector for whole class writing activities or include on classroom computers for individual student use. Have students use Google Docs or Microsoft Word instead of paper and pencil for their writing activity, or if using the student portion, use the online tools provided with the site and download the PDF when complete. Enhance student writing with this resource by using an online PDF editor like ePub Editor, reviewed here, to add additional information. ePub Editor allows you to add images, videos, and more to PDF documents to create multimedia and interactive books.
 This resource requires PDF reader software like Adobe Acrobat.

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EasyWrite - Deekshith Allamaneni

Grades
K to 12
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EasyWrite is a simple to use writing tool for creating easy to understand content. Just type your text into the text box and begin writing. EasyWrite highlights words not found ...more
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EasyWrite is a simple to use writing tool for creating easy to understand content. Just type your text into the text box and begin writing. EasyWrite highlights words not found in the 1,000 most commonly used words in the English language. At the time of this review, EasyWrite worked best with Chrome or Mozilla FireFox.

tag(s): digital storytelling (149), editing (80), independent reading (118), process writing (43), vocabulary (299), writers workshop (35), writing (359)

In the Classroom

Have students use EasyWrite to retell difficult text in an easy to understand way. Retell Shakespeare passages in simple English or breakdown complicated directions into simple terms. EasyWrite is perfect for use with ESL/ELL or special education students. Choose any complex or difficult text and break it into simpler terms for easier understanding. Do this by adding a free browser extension to classroom computers and devices. Use a tool such as Grammarly (for Chrome, Safari, Edge, and FireFox), reviewed here, or After the Deadline (for Internet Explorer), reviewed here. Turn the theory of EasyWrite upside down - have students paste their writing projects into EasyWrite. If there are only a few highlighted words, have them develop more interesting and complex writing passages. Have students take a screenshot of their original work to include with a final draft.

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