Let's engage our pupils in online literacy learning with these interactive tools that help them accomplish a variety of goals - from organizing their thoughts to learning about language - all while having fun.
1. ABC Match - Grades K - 2
Learning to recognize letters is integral to early literacy. But how can you keep your students practicing until they are fluent? The ABC Match game meets this challenge by offering students the chance to match initial letters with pictures while also using their memory skills to remember which cards are where. Students work their way through three increasingly difficult levels, each with more pairs of cards. The game offers two modes of play, one timed and one not, as well as the option to hear the names of all the pictures. A print version of the cards enables students to play the game offline, either in the classroom or at home.
2. Character Trading Cards - Grades 3 - 12
Using popular culture texts in the classroom offers students an alternative way to demonstrate their literacy knowledge and skills and to engage in meaningful literary practices. The Character Trading Cards tool allows students to create their own character cards, which they can then print off, illustrate, and trade or keep. It can be used with characters in a book students are reading or as a prewriting exercise for students who are writing narrative stories. Specific prompts ask students to describe the character, look at his or her thoughts and feelings, explore how he or she develops, identify important thoughts and actions, and make personal connections to the character. The accompanying planning sheet allows students to draft and revise their work before going online to use the interactive.
3. Hero’s Journey - Grades 6 - 12
The hero's journey is an ancient story pattern that can be found in texts from thousands of years ago or in newly released Hollywood blockbusters. This interactive tool will provide students with background on the hero's journey and give them a chance to explore several of the journey's key elements. Students can use the tool to record examples from a hero's journey they have read or viewed or to plan out a hero's journey of their own.
4. Word Wizard - Grades K - 2
This highly interactive activity supports critical thinking and problem solving while also building students' comprehension and spelling skills. Students start by choosing puzzles based on four popular U.S. children's books. They are then prompted to use clues to identify words from a list of scrambled letters. The final clue is based on an event or theme from their chosen book, which supports story comprehension and makes the activity meaningful and fun. Audible prompts and hints guide students to solve the sometimes challenging word puzzles. After completing a section, students may choose to begin another series of puzzles based on the same book or may choose a different book. This engaging interactive tool would work well with pairs or small groups, either in one session or across multiple sessions.
5. Shape Poems - Grades K - 5
A shape poem is a poem that describes an object and is written in the shape of the object. In this online tool, elementary students can select shapes from four different themes: Nature, School, Sports, and Celebrations. Within these themes, 19 different shapes are included. By selecting a shape, students are learning how to focus their writing on a particular topic. In addition, as part of the online tool, students are prompted to brainstorm, write, and revise their poems, thus reinforcing elements of the writing process. Students can also print their finished shape poems, cut and color them, and display them in the classroom or at home.
6. Mystery Cube - Grades 6 - 12
Was it the butler in the bedroom or the gardener in the garage? Use this tool to help your students sort out the clues in their favorite mysteries or develop outlines for their own stories. Among its multiple applications, the Mystery Cube helps students identify mystery elements, practice using vocabulary from this popular genre, and sort and summarize information. Specific prompts ask students to describe the setting, clues, crime or mystery, victim, detective, and solution.
7. Flip-a-Chip - Grades 6 - 8
Effective vocabulary instruction requires active and positive student participation. In addition, familiarity with high-frequency affixes and roots promotes comprehension of numerous words in which they occur as meaningful chunks. In this online activity, students flip two chips to mix and match four word parts and make four words. Students then insert the four words into a paragraph, using context clues to determine where each word belongs. After each exercise, students can print their work to check whether they placed the four words in the paragraph correctly.
8. Fractured Fairy Tales - Grades 3 - 12
Whether it's The Princess and the Rutabaga or Big Blue Riding Hood, invite your students to turn familiar fairy tales upside down and inside out—and to have fun. This interactive tool gives students a choice of three fairy tales to read. They are then guided to choose a variety of changes, which they use to compose a fractured fairy tale to print off and illustrate. Useful for teaching point of view, setting, plot, as well as fairy tale conventions such as they lived happily ever after, this tool encourages students to use their imaginations and the writing process at the same time.
9. Letter Generator - Grades K - 12
The Letter Generator tool is designed to help students learn to identify all the essential parts of a business or friendly letter, and then generate letters by typing information into letter templates. A sample letter is included, and students can learn about the parts of a letter by reading descriptions of each part. Once students have become familiar with letter formats, they are prompted to write their own letter using a simple template. Students follow the steps and fill in specific fields in the template (for example, heading, salutation, closing, signature, and so on). They may even add a decorative border and postscript to the friendly letter. The finished letter can then be previewed, edited, and printed. This useful tool provides step-by-step instructions for familiarizing users with the necessary elements of written correspondence, and can serve as an excellent practice method for composing and proofreading both formal and informal letters.
10. Picture Match - Grades K – 2
Picture Match is designed to give new readers practice with identifying beginning-letter and short- and long-vowels sounds through a simple, fun game. Updated in 2008, the game features all letters of the alphabet. In the beginning-letter sounds section, a picture of an object (for example, a car) is displayed, and students are prompted to choose the letter that corresponds with the first letter of the word. In the short- and long-vowel sounds sections, students are prompted to choose the vowel that corresponds with the word. If students choose the correct match, they get words of encouragement and a new picture. If they do not choose the correct match, they receive an audible prompt and can then try again, choosing among the remaining letters. Once all of the pictures have been matched, students can print out a chart showing which pictures go with which letters. Pictures are sorted randomly with each game to provide a challenge if the game is played more than once. Picture Match is intended for beginning readers and can be used individually or in small groups.
11. Animal Inquiry - Grades 3 - 6
The Animal Inquiry interactive is a versatile tool that can enhance student inquiry in research at the elementary level. The graphic organizer invites students to explore four facets of animals [basic facts, animal babies, interaction with others, and habitats (shown at left)]; the possibilities for extensions or adaptations, moreover, make this a a nice complement with inquiry-based projects. The follow-up writing prompts can be used to organize research questions as well as to record findings. After completing individual sections or the entire organizer, students have the ability to print out their final versions for feedback and assessment.
12. Bio-Cube - Grades 3 - 12
Summarizing information is an important postreading and prewriting activity that helps students synthesize what they have learned. This tool allows students to develop an outline of a person whose biography or autobiography they have just read; it can also be used before students write their own autobiography. Specific prompts ask students to describe a person's significance, background, and personality. The finished printout can be folded into a fun cube shape that can be used for future reference.
13. Crossword Puzzles - Grades K - 12
Encourage your students to study their content area vocabulary, practice grammar or parts of speech, or demonstrate what they have learned by creating crossword puzzles. In the Create mode, the tool offers the opportunity to enter words and their clues before it generates the puzzle. The tool also includes a Play mode with crossword puzzles for students in grades K–12. Included with each puzzle are a For Teachers page with troubleshooting help and ideas for use as well as a Tips & Hints page designed to scaffold students' learning and help them do the research necessary to solve the puzzle.
14. ReadWriteThink Webbing Tool - Grades 3 - 12
The Webbing Tool provides a free-form graphic organizer for activities that ask students to pursue hypertextual thinking and writing. The tool provides a quick way for students to trace out options and rearrange connections. Students can use the Webbing Tool to analyze readings as well as a prewriting activity and flowcharting tool. Students can drag the circle or box shapes representing their ideas to arrange any layout and relationship that they want. Each layer on the chart will have a different color border for the shapes that you choose.
15. Word Family Sort - Grades K - 5
This online activity is designed for beginning and struggling readers to help them recognize word patterns and learn about onset and rime. Students are first asked to select a vowel, and are then presented with a series of words to sort into short-vowel word families. Students can then print their completed word family chart and use it to practice reading the words fluently.
16. Venn Diagram, 2 Circles - Grades K - 12
Students may generate clear, well-formatted Venn Diagrams by naming their project and labeling Circle 1 and Circle 2, then generating concepts that can be placed on the diagram by clicking and dragging them with the mouse. Students may place the concepts in either circle or in the overlapping area, allowing them to organize their information logically. A step-by-step animated demo shows students how to type concepts and their descriptions, and how to drag and place concepts on their diagrams. Students may view and edit their draft diagrams, then print the finished diagrams for reference. This is a handy tool for classroom use that guides students through the process of organizing information in Venn diagram form.
17. Stapleless Book - Grades K - 12
The Stapleless Book is designed to allow users to create with ease an eight-page book simply by folding and cutting. No tape or staples are required. Students and teachers alike can use the Stapleless Book for taking notes while reading, making picture books, collecting facts, or creating vocabulary booklets. Students can choose from seven different layouts for the pages of their books. The tool is easy to use, made even easier with the Stapleless Book Planning Sheet, a printable PDF that book creators can use to draft and revise their work before creating and printing their final books. View the video demonstration for the Stapleless Book to see how to fold and cut the printout.
18. Persuasion Map - Grades 3 - 12
The Persuasion Map is an interactive graphic organizer that enables students to map out their arguments for a persuasive essay or debate. Students begin by determining their goal or thesis. They then identify three reasons to support their argument, and three facts or examples to validate each reason. The map graphic in the upper right-hand corner allows students to move around the map, instead of having to work in a linear fashion. By clicking the printer icon, students can preview their map, return to their map for revisions, or print their completed map for future reference.
19. ReadWriteThink Notetaker - Grades 3 - 12
This hierarchical outlining tool allows students to organize up to five levels of information for reading and writing activities. During or after reading, the Notetaker can be used to compile and organize reading notes, research, and related ideas. During the writing process, students can use the tool to organize their information and plan texts in the prewriting stage and to review and structure their ideas during writing and revision. Students can choose the format that the outline will use (e.g., bullets, Roman numerals, letters) as well as enter up to five levels of information. The Notetaker includes a tutorial, which demonstrates how to use the tool, as well as a Notes area where students can track information that does not fit into the outline. The Notetaker creates an HTML file of students' outlines, which can be printed or saved and edited later in any HTML editor.
20. Construct-a-Word - Grades K - 2
Construct-a-Word provides a simple, engaging way for students to generate dozens of different words by first choosing an ending (for example -an, -ed, -at, -op) and then adding a beginning letter or blend. When a correct word is created, the word is stored in a Word Bank where students can read and review their words. For each ending, Construct-a-Word prompts students to create between 6 and 14 different possible words, adding an element of fun and discovery. It uses animation and sound to guide students through the steps of creating words, and employs prompts that are clear and easy to master. This interactive tool could be used individually or in small groups, either in one session or across multiple lessons.