Our 5 Favorite Language Arts Resources | Learning Lab
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This blog marks the first in a series featuring free digital educational resources we love. While not a master list, these are ones that experience taught us work, and we’re delighted to share them with you.
First, we're sharing Language Arts resources. To us, "Language Arts" encompasses instruction in reading, writing and oral communication. As these resources are digital, the oral communication component admittedly is lacking. However, we think if you use the resources here provided and add in a presentation or discussion component, your learners are sure to receive necessary oral communication practice.
A quick note on our organizational structure: the resources are ordered by commitment load on the leader. The first resource requires the least amount of leader commitment and the last requires the most. Within each review, you'll read the following: a brief description detailing the reason we love it; bullet points of resource features; how to use it with your learner and a one sentence description.
In list form, here are the resources we’ve stewed on for you. Click the link to jump to our review.
Even though I’m not in Preschool to First Grade, I found this app very engaging and easy to navigate. It features cute, friendly animals leading you through short-paced, intriguing activities accompanied by upbeat music to set a positive atmosphere. Some features I particularly enjoyed:
- Focus on sounds
- Reads to your learner
- Words change color as read
- Embeds learning and interaction into storytelling
- Empowers your learner with options to choose:
- Repeat page or move on
- Re-watch instructional videos
- Story mode or choose desired activities
- Changes activities frequently – books, videos, create, ABC, 123, Reading, and Logic
- Incentivizes learning – you collect gifts as you go
It’s a website full of intriguing mini games to reinforce skill practice in a variety of areas. It looks as though they’re starting to collaborate with IXL, which intrigues me. My only hope is they remain free. As of now, all content is free online with memberships granting unlimited app access and online fullscreen mode. Here are some features of mention:
- Aligned to Common Core & Next Generation Science Standards (Sort by Standard or Game)
- Filter games by grade level & subject
- Bookmark favorites. A few we’d bookmark:
- ABC Bingo (PreK-K) – Identify 3, 4 or 5 (you choose the grid size) letter sounds or names (represented in upper- or lower-case letters) in a row to win
- Later Gator (1st – 3rd) – A whack-a-mole inspired subject-verb agreement game
- Parts of Speech Asteroids (3rd – 5th) – Shoot asteroids matching the part of speech under your blaster. Choose which parts of speech you’re reviewing before you begin.
- Hold the Phone (3rd-6th) – While “texting,” choose emojis to represent idioms, then respond with the best idiom explanation.
A note of caution: make sure your learner chooses the skill you’re desiring them to practice before they begin each game. Many games are the same across grade levels, so if your learner’s not careful about selection, the game won’t be suitable for them. Also, not all games have great directions. Sometimes you have to figure them out as you go.
ABC Ya is ideal for independent skill practice with moderate leader direction suggested.
Story Jumper, a place where you jump right into story creation. It’s a place to craft a digital story book that you can share with the whole world. Choose from a wide selection of fonts, backgrounds and clipart to illustrate your story. Record your voice reading your story. Order the book so you have your own physical version. The options are truly endless when you create a story with Story Jumper. Check out these feature highlights:
- Beginner’s tutorial
- Embedded clipart options
- Font editing tools
- Various backgrounds
- Upload your own pictures
- Record your voice to “read” the story to others
- Order a physical copy of your book
- Collaboration options
- Browse lesson plans
- Read and rate other people’s books
Story Jumper does not yet include many implementation suggestions. But with this tool, the world is your oyster. As it’s so open-ended, we’re certain you, creative leader, will make good use of it.
Story Jumper is ideal for encouraging learner creativity with as much leader guidance as you’d like to put into it.
You’re looking for a passage to tie-in to specific content, similar passages at varying reading levels, or reading passages with comprehension and vocabulary activities, then Read Works is the site for you. I’ve personally used Read Works numerous times for reading material that corresponds with instructional content. Their search tools and wide array of articles make finding just the reading passage you need convenient. Here’s an overview of the features found at Read Works:
- Articles for Kindergarten to 12th Grade
- Multiple subjects (Science, Social Studies, Arts, Holidays & Events, and Social Emotional)
- Various genres (fiction, nonfiction, and poetry)
- Vocabulary and comprehension questions (in open-ended and multiple-choice formats)
- “Read-to-Me” option
- Flexible presentation options (digital, print, and projector)
- “Article-A-Day” program offers differentiated levels to facilitate a reading routine
- Highly filterable search settings (Content Type, Audio Availability, Activity Type, Grade Level, Topics, Text Type, Lexile Level)
Read Works requires some leader planning and is not self-paced. It’s perfect for finding supplemental resources, forming a reading routine to develop comprehension and vocabulary skills and differentiating reading in content areas. While the presentation is uniform with little artwork to break up the monotony, learners may initially lack the motivation to self-start on these resources. However, we think the value of the articles, breadth of subject matter and ease of differentiating easily make this a treasured resource.
Read Works is ideal for supplementing content areas or establishing a routine of comprehension-checked and vocabulary-building reading.
You’re likely already familiar with Read Write Think if you’ve spent any amount of time scouring the internet for Language Arts instruction resources. This website hosts a plethora of rigorous and detailed lesson plans as well as interactive digital tools to support Language Arts instruction in Kindergarten through 12th Grade. Check out some of their features:
- Kindergarten to 12th Grade Resources
- Detailed, standard-aligned, rigorous lesson plans
- Online interactives
- Organizing & Summarizing Interactives like:
- The Timeline (Grades K-12) that allows learners to add pictures and text boxes to order chronological information.
- The Bio Cube (Grades 3-12) that enables learners to communicate details from a biography or autobiography.
- Inquiry & Analysis Interactives like:
- Fact Fragment Frenzy (Grades 1-6) that shows learners how to fact find in nonfiction passages.
- Animal Inquiry (Grades 3-6) that guides learners through animal exploration
- Writing Poetry Interactives like:
- Acrostic Poems (K-12) that helps learners write these poems.
- Riddle Interactive (Grades 3-8) that explores models and guides the learner through the riddle writing process.
- Writing & Publishing Prose interactives like:
- Comic Creator (K-12) that aids learners in comic strip creation
- Fractured Fairy Tales (3-12) that encourages unique tale formation
- Learning about Language interactives like:
- Organizing & Summarizing Apps: Timeline; Venn Diagram; Alphabet Organizer; Trading Cards
- Inquiry & Analysis Apps: RWT Fact Fragment Frenzy (Grades 1-6); RWT Hero’s Journey (Grades 6-12)
- Writing Poetry Apps: Acrostic Poems (K-12); Diamante Poems (K-12); Haiku Poem App (3-12); Theme Poems(K-12); Word Mover (3-12)
- Writing and Publishing Prose Apps: RWT Cover Creator (K-12); RWT Flip Book (3-12); RWT Postcard Creator (K-12); RWT Profile Publisher (6-12); RWT Stapleless Book (K-12)
- Learning About Language App: RWT Word Matrix 6-12
- Activities inspired by holidays, seasons and important dates
- Parent and afterschool resources organized by grade level (activities & projects; games & tools; tips & how-to’s; printouts; podcasts; most popular section)
This resource is definitely for leaders. After carefully choosing target lessons, we suggest leaders read through the lesson and gather resources to prepare. One thing’s for certain though, your efforts will be worth it; these lessons are intensive. Implement interactives as lesson support when possible, or allow learners to use the interactives in an open-ended fashion.
Read Write Think is ideal for supporting leader’s lesson planning and empowering learners with Language Arts interactive tools.
Before you go, we’d love to know:
What free and digital language art resource should we add to this list?
Which language arts resource mentioned above will you visit first on your tour?
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