Guest Blog: 5 Simple Tools for ELA Instruction

Post in Uncategorized by JannaDougherty on 12th August 2015

Hey teachers,

We hope you’re enjoying your summer with Teq! Today we’re pleased to bring you another contribution from our friends at Learn2Earn.  One of their bloggers has been spending the summer looking up a whole new list of fun ELA tools, and decided to share with us. Enjoy!

Guest Blog: 5 Simple Tools for ELA Instruction
by Jessica Sanders

ELA instruction can be difficult for teachers, with many students at different reading, writing and comprehension levels. Because of this, you need methods and tools for personalizing and differentiating the lessons and activities.

With minimal time to learn and implement new programs in the classroom, it’s best to find simple tools that you and your students can learn easily and implement right away. Here are five that not only improve your ELA instruction, but keep your already long to-do list as short as possible.

 Collaborize Classroom

CollaborizeClassroomLogo

An important part of ELA instruction is ensuring that your students understand  and can talk intelligently about topics like important book themes, or how to use the vocabulary they’re learning. Collaborize Classroom, an online discussion platform, enables you to check that students are grasping these details. Not only is this fun for students because they get to be social, but you can read through the conversation and get a clear picture of what they understand and what they don’t through what they show through their discussions.

Whooo’s Reading

science-owl-21c72deb6865ca683466f9d5084c4befUse this tool to make reading comprehension more fun and exciting for students. After logging their reading, students are prompted to answer a Common Core-aligned comprehension question—which you can see and score. Depending on minutes read and reading response, students can earn Wisdom Coins that they can spend in the Owl Shop. This tool makes reading comprehension fun for students, and provides you with a variety of simple graphs that make it easy for you to track student reading progress.

Storybird

storybird Writing in different formats, not just essays, makes the task more fun and engaging for students. Not to mention, it teaches them how to format a variety of writing styles, such as short stories, poems, and even chapter books. Storybird is a simple tool that allows students to learn how to write a story, developing a plotline, characters and simple themes.

While this tool helps students hone their writing skills, it’s also fun to use, with images that can be dragged and dropped into the story to add color and excitement.

 Citelighter

Citelighter2A great organizational starter, this tool allows you to create an interactive outline for students to start with. For example, your guiding outline might prompt students with the following steps:

  • What is the main idea of the book?
  • Share one piece of evidence to support this.
  • Quote one of the main characters.
  • State why this quote is important.

And, like a map, students use this outline as a guide, filling in their own information and moving it into a doc where they’ll write the final piece. With real-time assessment tools, you can use Citelighter to personalize writing instruction as well.

Mindmeister

Screen-shot-2012-05-17-at-15.50.53Encourage students to organize the details of a book you’re reading with Mindmeister, a mind-mapping tool. Using this format makes differentiating between many characters, confusing plotlines and intricate themes easier. “Mind mapping provides a clear overview of a topic. It enables students to see the bigger picture, find connections and detect hierarchies between individual pieces of information,” said Raphaela Brandner. While students can do this exercise on paper, the Mindmeister tool provides them with a more interactive environment to explore these details.

Finding ways to personalize and differentiate your ELA instruction can be time-consuming. With these five simple tools, however, you can accomplish both of those goals, while making reading and writing fun and engaging for students.

 

Bio: Jessica Sanders is the Director of Social Outreach for Learn2Earn. She grew up reading books like The Giver and Holes, and is passionate about making reading as exciting for young kids today as it has always been for her. Follow Learn2Earn on Twitter and Facebook, and send content inquiries to social@learn2earn.org.

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