“What are still you doing here? It’s 6 pm.”
And so began most of my conversations with Jerry, the janitor at my previous school, in the first three years of my teaching.
Hunched over my keyboard, my red eyes peering into my computer screen, like a shipwrecked tourist searching for a chunk of floating wood, I googled endless combinations of words in search for the perfect worksheet, the lesson, the video, that would allow me a bit of rest and keep a group of teens pacified– and, I dared to hope– interested.
Back then, planning a unit or even one lesson was a burden.
Today, with the sites I’ve discovered, the planning is much easier. Here are the 13 websites for English teachers I can’t live without.
13 SITES FOR TEACHERS OF ENGLISH WORTH VISITING:
Professional Mentor Texts/Literature Databases
1. Conceptual Unit Database- This site includes a list of theme topics, ranging from identity to censorship, and lists short stories, articles, images, videos, and even entire unit plans relating to these topics. With the help of this site, planning a thematic unit is easy. The site includes links to pdf short stories as well– ready to print and use!
2. Penny Kittle’s Mentor Texts– Penny Kittle is a fantastic teacher. She reads widely and vets great mentor texts ranging from articles to speeches that will keep students engaged and that will mode good writing. You’ll really enjoy Kittle’s article about teaching English, “Do the Math.”
3. Kelly Gallagher’s Article of the Week Database- This teacher and author assigns an article for his students to read and respond to in writing each week. Many of these articles are timeless and can be assigned throughout the year.
4. Dave Stuart Jr’s Article of the Week Archive- I am a huge fan of Dave Stuart Jr., and his dedicated inspired me to start this blog. Dave Stuart Jr., like Gallagher, has his students study articles of the week– his are ready to print and include interesting questions. Like Gallagher’s articles, many are timeless.
5. 180 Poetry– Born of the desire of one poet laureate to have each teacher in America read a poem each of the 180 days of a school year, this site includes 180 short poems that appeal to teens. I use these poems to teach grammar and writing techniques.
Student Mentor Texts
6. Thoughtful Learning (Database)- In my experience, the best student mentor texts are those taken from my students with their permission. However, if I need a student mentor text, ranging from a narrative to an essay, I will go to the Thoughtful Learning database.
7. Thoughtful Learning (Mini-Lessons)- Offers a range of mini-lessons teaching grammar, punctuation, writing skills, and more. These lessons are great because they are concise and always include some form of practice you can do with your class.
8. No Red Ink- A great site for teaching grammar and punctuation skills. It includes review questions you can do as a class, or even assign a quiz to your students for homework and reviews student results on your computer screen.
9. Flocabulary– This site comes out with stick-in-your-brain raps and songs covering topics ranging from figurative language to comma usage. Students really enjoy Flocabulary. Unfortunately, you need to pay for it beyond the free trial. Here’s a great example of a Flocabulary song about setting:
10. Vocabulary.com- This site stands out among all the vocabulary sites out there because the word definitions are written in kid-friendly language, the site provides multiple examples using each word, and it allows you to build your own vocabulary test-prep quizzes for your students to do at home. Students rave about it.
11. Kahoot- With access to a cell phone and the internet, each student in your class can engage in a “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?” style game based on your lesson content. Simply search the Kahoot database for a multiple choice quiz that suits your content, vet the content for correctness (some of these games contain spelling errors, etc.), open the game, and have students sign in with the code provided. If you ask your students to sign in with their real names, you can download and analyze their results after the game. I often input these results as formative assessments into my gradebook.
For Your English Language Learners/Struggling Readers
12. Breaking News English- While your immigrant students may not understand much of what they read or hear in your class, they will understand these high-interest, true news articles written in plain language. You can choose the level of the article ranging from easy to advanced. Have your ESL student read articles and summarize. As the year progresses, the ESL student will have greatly improved his or her vocabulary and writing skills.
Extra credit- For the Keeners!
13. Free Rice 2.0. This has got to be the most motivating extra credit assignment ever devised. Students log in to this vocabulary site, and for every vocabulary question they get right, 10 grains of rice are donated by the site to the World Food Programme to end hunger. Have your students take a screenshot of their vocabulary credits, and assign them one bonus mark per 100 credits, or as many marks as you see fit. Helping others while improving your vocabulary? It can’t get any better.
I hope this list of resources will make your next year of teaching English easier.
Are there any websites you just can’t live without?
Share with us in the comments below!