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Writing Prompts and Starters
1. The Story Starter
This automatic generator comes up with over two billion (no joke!) creative ideas for writers. It was named to Writer’s Digest Magazine’s list of 101 Best Websites for Writers in 2012.
2. Creative Writing Prompts
When your students need inspiration, this site is the place to go. It features more than 300 detailed creative writing prompts, as well as journal ideas. You can also use the writing prompts as great warm-up activities each day.
3. Ink Provoking
Another creative writing prompts website that can be used for a variety of writing activities. New prompts are added each Sunday to keep the content fresh.
NOTE: Ink Provoking’s prompts are more specific than some of the aforementioned websites, so it may be more suited to older students.
4. Story Spinner Online
Bonnie Neubauer’s Online Story Spinner offers millions of ideas to get your students writing. When you click on the Story Spinner, you get a starting phrase, a setting and four words that must be included in the story.
NOTE: Story Spinner Online’s prompts are more specific than some of the aforementioned websites, so it may be more suited to older students.
5. Language Is a Virus
The automatic prompt generator on this site can provide writers with an endless number of creative prompts. Some of the other resources available on the site include writing exercises and information on dozens of different authors.
NOTE: Language Is a Virus’ prompts are more specific than some of the aforementioned websites, so it may be more suited to older students.
6. The Quotations Page
With over 27,000 famous quotes from more than 3,100 authors, The Quotations Page is the largest online listing of quotes on a variety of different topics. Use quotes from The Quotations Page as writing starters or warm-up activities.
7. The Onion
“The Onion” is home to well-written, fake news articles about contemporary issues and people. It’s a great way to introduce your students to satirical writing and to point out that not everything you read is true. Have your students read an article from “The Onion” and then write a piece of their own.
8. Slate Magazine
An online magazine of news, politics, and culture. Slate.com combines humor and insight in thoughtful analyses of current events and political news. Have your students read an article about a current event and write their thoughts and impressions.
9. Purdue University Online Writing Lab (LinkedIn Teacher Favorite!)
Purdue’s Online Writing Lab was the most frequently recommended website. With over 200 free resources including research, grammar and mechanics, style guides, ESL tools and more, it’s easy to see why!
10. Guide to Grammar and Writing
Capital Community College’s Grammar Site accumulated the second highest number of recommendations. It contains a very intensive guide for everything from word and sentence level, to paragraph level, to essay and research paper level.
11. Big Dog’s Grammar
A fun and easy-to-follow guide to the basic rules of English grammar. It’s designed for beginning students to be used as a quick review, with interactive online exercises.
12. Grammar Bytes
This website provides “grammar instruction with attitude.” Its “grammar bytes” include grammar rules, handouts, interactive exercises, videos and definitions of common grammar terms.
13. Diagramming Sentences
Help your students visualize how the different parts of a sentence fit together. On this page, you can learn the process one step at a time, or jump to a specific topic such as Predicate Nominatives, Infinitive Phrases or Relative Clauses.
GrammarBook is an online resource for grammar and punctuation usage that includes lessons, quizzes, and an optional test to evaluate student understanding of the material.
15. Grammar Handbook – Writing Workshop (LinkedIn Teacher Favorite!)
The University of Illinois’ Writing Workshop offers a free online grammar handbook that explains basic grammatical rules concerning parts of speech, phrases, clauses, sentences and sentence elements and common problems of usage.
16. Daily Grammar
This archive of 440 grammar lessons and quizzes can be accessed for free! They cover the eight parts of speech, parts of the sentence and the mechanics of grammar.
Share Grammarly with your students because it’s a user friendly way to improve a paper. Simply copy and paste text into the box and click “check text.” Within 30 seconds, it provides a detailed analysis that includes 150 different grammar rules, plagiarism, word choice and more. The only downside is that Grammarly is a premium service; however, you can sign up for a free seven day trial.
FunBrain’s Grammar Gorillas are great for learning, reinforcing and reviewing different Parts of Speech. They show you fun sentences and ask you to find the noun, verb, etc.
Reading & Writing
19. ReadWriteThink (LinkedIn Teacher Favorite!)
ReadWriteThink is a comprehensive collection of classroom resources for teachers. It includes searchable lesson plans, student interactives, activities and printouts. With this collection, students can explore elements of books and stories, develop characters, create poems, comic strips, newspapers, flyers and more.
20. The Elements of Style Online
An online version of William Strunk’s classic reference book, The Elements of Style, on the principal requirements of plain English style, the rules of usage and principles of composition most commonly violated.
21. Scholastic Graphic Organizers for Reading Comprehension
Use these graphic organizers with your K-12 students with a variety of reading comprehension activities. They are great for literary elements, literature, reading assessment, reading comprehension, literature, curriculum development, new teacher resources, teacher tips and strategies.
22. Short Stories: 10 Tips for Creative Writers
This website explains what a short story is and how it should be structured. It covers topics such as writing a catchy opening, developing characters, creating conflict or tension and more.
23. Awesome Library
Awesome Library is a very basic site with links to resources for reading, writing, literature, poetry, drama, lesson plans, public speaking and more.
24. Gale Glossary of Literary Terms
The Gale Glossary of Literary Terms defines hundreds of terms, from Abstract to Zeitgeist.
25. Proofreading Symbols and Abbreviations
The easy-to-use table on this website includes 32 proofreading symbols and abbreviations. Give this resource to your students after you’ve graded their papers so they know what your marks mean.
26. About.com – How to Write a Five-Paragraph Essay (LinkedIn teacher Favorite!)
An interesting and easy-to-follow guide for writing the perfect five-paragraph essay.
The world’s largest and mosttrusted free online thesaurus helps your students find synonyms and antonyms of words. It’s great for writing of any kind!
Penzu is home to what is probably the most realistic imitation of lined paper on the internet. This nifty online journal is accessible from any computer with the internet, so it’s great for keeping track of creative writing without having a physical notebook.
29. Poetry 180 – A Poem a Day for High School Students
The Library of Congress’ Poetry 180 website provides high school English teachers with an age-appropriate poem each day for that can be printed, projected on an interactive whiteboard and/or read aloud.
30. eMule Poetry Archives
Search over 5,000 online text-based poems from more than 153 classical poets including William Blake, Robert Frost, Emily Dickinson, William Wordsworth and more.
If you’re doing a unit on poetry, RhymeZone is a must. You can type in a word and it will give you a list of all the words in the English language that rhyme with it, listed by number of syllables.
32. ipl2 Literary Criticism
The Internet Public Library Literary Criticism website is a useful collection of critical and biographical websites about authors and their works. You can browse by author, title, nationality or literary period.
33. Aesop’s Fables
The largest online collection of Aesop’s Fables with over 650 fables to choose from.
Danteworlds provides high school students with a multimedia journey through Dante’s Inferno. It combines textual commentary, artistic images and audio recordings in addition to providing summaries, analyses and study questions. It’s very cool! You should check it out.
35. Mark Twain’s Mississippi
Mark Twain’s Mississippi provides resources for studying Mark Twain’s life and works, as well as the history, economics, politics and culture of his era. It includes primary source materials as well as essays, images, audio and video.
36. Luminarium: Anthology of English Literature
This website provides information about the life, works and analysis of Medieval, Renaissance, 17th century and Restoration authors like Chaucer, Shakespeare and Milton.
37. Literary Hit Parade
Did you ever want to know who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1936? What the best-selling nonfiction books were in 1968? Sigma Tau Delta has put together a list of notable literary events from 1924-2008, organized by decade. It’s interesting to browse around and see what was popular during certain time periods. Some things may surprise you!
38. Famous Authors
Famous Authors is a biographical database of hundreds of historical and modern authors. Each listing includes a picture of the author and a short summary of their life.
ClassicAuthors is an online collection of the works of classic authors such as: Jane Austen, Emily Bronte, Geoffrey Chaucer, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Homer, John Milton, Edgar Allen Poe, Henry David Thoreau and William Wordsworth.
Use IMDb, the internet movie database, to see if there are any movies that are relevant to the book you’re teaching. If you find one, you can also check the rating to make sure it’s appropriate for your classroom.
With Dipity, you can find, create and embed interactive timelines. The best part is that you can add photos to customize the look of each timeline. This website is especially useful for providing your students with a visual representation of a sequence of events in a book.
42. Mr. William Shakespeare and the Internet
This website provides an annotated guide to different Shakespeare resources on the Internet.
43. Folger Shakespeare Library
The Folger Shakespeare Library has a lot of great Shakespeare resources that you can take advantage of. Check out their lesson plans, primary sources, study guides and more.
44. The Complete Works of William Shakespeare
MIT’s complete online collection of Shakespeare’s many works. Need I say more?
45. Absolute Shakespeare
This website is a complete resource that includes Shakespeare’s plays, sonnets, poems, quotes, biography and even information about the legendary Globe Theatre.
An online English spelling resource for older students and adults. Includes free units and word lists.
Practice spelling with free interactive spelling games that are compatible with interactive whiteboards, mobile phones and tablet PCs.
48. Word of the Day
Improve your students’ vocabulary with the New York Times’ Word of the Day. It provides a definition and examples of recent usage in actual New York Times articles.
49. Commonly Confused Words
Oxford University Press’ Commonly Confused Words page lists dozens of commonly confused word pairs, such as affect & effect, discreet & discrete, and flaunt & flout, with tips on how to use them correctly.
Vocabulary.com helps you learn new words by playing synonym games. You get a few different “hints” for when you’re stuck, kind of like Who Wants to be a Millionaire. The hints make it fun!
Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary and thesaurus is easy to use and guaranteed to be accurate. Other site features include a Word of the Day, podcasts, word games and free quizzes.
Use Dictionary.com as a quick reference for words that your students don’t know. Often times it’s a lot faster than whipping out a conventional dictionary because you can simply type the word into the search engine.
53. Urban Dictionary
I was surprised that numerous teachers submitted this one, but I can certainly see how modern diction is relatable and relevant to students. If you’re planning on using Urban Dictionary to look something up during class, make sure you check it before you show it to your students.
Word Dynamo (added 7-5-2012)
Create customized games and word lists (or play the great pre-built ones) to increase student vocabulary. Choose between 3 different games: Match, crossword, or listen
Free Rice (added 5/17/2012)
Free Rice is a great S.A.T./A.C.T. level vocabulary building game. Plus, with every correct answer, 10 grains of rice are donated to the World Food Programme to help end hunger.
Visuwords (added 5/17/2012)
Use the neat Visuwords graphical dictionary and thesaurus to find their meanings and associations with other words and concepts.
English as a Second Language (ESL)
54. ManyThings (LinkedIn Teacher Favorite!)
A free study site for English as a Second Language (ESL) students with games, quizzes, puzzles, MP3 files with transcripts, listening practice, pronunciation and more.
55. ESLHQ (LinkedIn Teacher Favorite!)
This website provides free ESL flashcards, worksheets, games, activities, lesson plans and more.
Forvo is the world’s largest pronunciation dictionary. It’s very valuable for ESL students because they can look up any word and hear it pronounced by an authentic English speaker.
57. Internet TESL Journal
The Internet TESL Journal website has over 500 articles on teaching ESL and around 200 lesson plans. You can also find a very useful list of questions to ask your ESL students to develop their fluency about food, habits, holidays, sports and more.
Other ELA Resources
58. GoEd Online English & Language Arts (ELA) Materials
Aside from having an awesome blog (tee-hee!), GoEd Online is a one-stop resource for fun English and Language Arts (ELA) teaching materials. Click here to check out our downloadable eBooks, educational videos, PowerPoint presentations and interactive games.
59. Business English Ideas Bank
Paul Emmerson’s website, Business English Ideas Bank, is a free online resource for English teachers who are trying to prepare their students for real-world employment. On this website, you’ll find dozens of ideas for incorporating business English into your curriculum.
60. Film English
Film English is a site that encourages the use of film in the ELA classroom. There are lesson plans, a glossary, links and videos to help students and teachers.
Free downloadable activities and lesson plans for teaching kids and adults.
A huge collection of practical ELA lesson plans, worksheets, audio recordings and teaching tips created by EFL and ESL teachers.
engVid is a place for English-learners where you can watch 359 video lessons that have been recorded by experienced native-speaker teachers. New lessons are added three times a week, covering grammar, vocabulary and more.
The Internet Second Language Collective is a free community website where ELA teachers can share their home-made teaching materials with their fellow educators.
65. PBS Educator’s Resource
Hundreds of high-quality Reading and Language Arts resources that are sortable by grade level.
66. Speech Tips
Speech Tips provides your students with step-by-step instructions for the speech planning process: writing the speech, preparing for and ultimately delivering the speech.
Free eBooks and Audio Books
This Internet publisher has a number of free eBooks online that can be used as supplemental resources for your English grammar and literature lessons.
68. Project Gutenberg (LinkedIn Teacher Favorite!)
Project Gutenberg offers 39,000 free eBooks. Some of the top downloads are The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, Pride and Prejudice, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Frankenstein, Dracula and Jane Eyre.
LibriVox is an extensive online collection of free audio books read by volunteers.
70. Google Books
With Google Books, you can search and preview millions of books from libraries and publishers around the world.
Lit2Go (added 5/29/2012)
The University of South Florida’s Lit2Go offers 200 free (and teacher-friendly) audiobooks, organized by author and genre. It includes popular academic titles like The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Beowulf, Crime and Punishment, Hamlet, The Illiad, Moby Dick, Romeo and Juliet, The Scarlet Letter, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, and more.
Blogging & Website Creation
With Edublogs, you can create and manage your own teacher blog as well as student blogs. You can customize designs and include videos, images and podcasts. Best of all, it’s safe and secure.
With a free option for K-12 teachers, Wikispaces is a great tool for making custom webpages that your students can edit together. You can manage privacy settings, create student accounts without email addresses, embed media and even customize the design of your Wiki pages.
WordPress is a blogging platform that allows you a lot of versatility in the kind of content you can offer. Create a class blog where you post links to helpful readings and give updates on assignments. It’s free to sign up and start a blog.
74. Google Sites
Google Sites is a free and easy way to create and share webpages and wikis.
75. Citation Machine (LinkedIn Teacher Favorite!)
Citation Machine provides you with an easy way to create your list of ‘Works Cited’ automatically.
76. Duke University Library’s Citing Sources
Have your students use this website as a resource for easy-to-use instructions. They’ll learn how to cite magazine articles, books, websites and other sources in their papers.
BibMe might be the easiest way to create a works cited page. You can search for a book, article, website or film and it automatically generates the information for you. You can also enter in the information yourself if you have it on hand.
Use EasyBib to automatically generate works cited and bibliography information for academic papers using MLA, APA and Chicago/Turabian citation styles. EasyBib is a student favorite.
79. Zotero (LinkedIn Teacher Favorite!)
Zotero is a neat tool that helps you collect, organize, cite and share research that you have done. You can add PDFs, images, audio and video files, snapshots of web pages and more. It indexes the full-text content of your library, allowing you to quickly find what you’re looking for.
OttoBib (added 7/12/2012)
Automatically create MLA, APA, Chicago/Turabian citations by entering in the book’s ISBN. It’s super easy!
Web 2.0 Tools – Material Creation
80. RubiStar (LinkedIn Teacher Favorite!)
RubiStar is a free tool to help teachers create quality rubrics. Registered users can save and edit rubrics online. You can access them from home, school or on the road.
81. Discovery Education’s Free Puzzlemaker (LinkedIn Teacher Favorite!)
Puzzlemaker is a tool that helps you create and print customized word searches, criss-cross puzzles, hidden message puzzles and more, all using your own word lists.
You can use Gliffy to create attractive and professional graphic organizers like Venn diagrams and flow charts. Unfortunately, to receive full access to their services, you have to pay for it. However, you can sign up for a free 30 day trial.
Mindomo is another online mind mapping tool. It’s neat because you can collaborate in real-time with others and share/embed what you’ve created. You get three free mind maps.
Tagxedo is an awesome word cloud creation tool. You can turn customized text, websites, blogs, Twitter accounts and more into stunning designs based on the frequency of words found in the medium. There are numerous designs and color schemes to choose from that can be saved to your computer or shared.
85. Wordle (LinkedIn Teacher Favorite!)
Create beautiful word clouds from text that you provide. Like Tagxedo, it gives prominence to words that appear most frequently. You can save, print and share your creation.
Use Animoto to easily create presentations and videos with your own images and music, or choose from a library of stock files. Teachers can apply for a free Animoto Plus account.
Use Bubbl.us to create colorful online mind maps. It’s great for class discussions and brainstorming sessions.
Web 2.0 Tools – File Sharing, Hosting, Viewing and Collaborating
88. YouTube (LinkedIn Teacher Favorite!)
With millions of YouTube videos, there’s bound to be something that’s relatable to your lesson. There are step-by-step tutorials, news clips, editorials, short documentaries and more. Recently, YouTube launched an education-specific version of the website called YouTube for Teachers.
Vimeo is kind of like YouTube in that it is a place for you to easily upload any kind of video you create—even high definition. A free account gives you access to 500MB worth of storage each week that you can use for a variety of things like customizing your website or blog.
Prezi is a really neat cloud-based presentation program that allows you to zoom in and out. If you don’t mind your slides being public, you can sign up for a free account with 100MB of storage.
91. Google Docs
Create, share and collaboratively edit documents using a Google account. Google Docs is especially useful for group projects where students are working together on an assignment. Ask your students to provide you with access to their Google Doc while they’re working on it so that you can give them real-time feedback on their progress.
SlideShare is one of the most popular ways to upload and share PowerPoint presentations and other documents. This is a great tool for transferring documents between your home and school computer without having to carry around a flash drive.
AuthorSTREAM is another one of many websites that allow you to upload a PowerPoint presentation and access it from any computer with an internet connection. It’s nice because you can select the privacy settings you want for your PowerPoint.
94. Dropbox (LinkedIn Teacher Favorite!)
Dropbox isn’t specific to teachers, but it’s a very handy tool. I’ve spoken with many teachers who use it with their students to share documents, turn in homework, etc. If you haven’t already given Dropbox a try, I’m telling you, it’s worthwhile. It’ll make your life so much easier.
Scribd is a web 2.0 document sharing site where you can upload, store and embed various types of files. It’s another popular option for moving files between your home and school computer.
96. Primary Pad
PrimaryPad is an online word processor that allows students and teachers to work together in real-time.
Web 2.0 Tools – Gathering Feedback/Creating Quizzes
97. Poll Everywhere
An inexpensive and quick alternative for clicker response systems. Create your first poll in 30 seconds without having to sign up. Your students simply text their answer to a predetermined number and, voila! Poll Everywhere is free if your class size is less than 40 students.
Celly is a free group text messaging program for schools with no user limit. It’s easy to start a group chat and create a class poll using text messages. Curators filter the messages before they are sent to the group. This keeps students on-topic and deters cyberbullying.
As one of the largest and most popular flashcard creation websites around, Quizlet allows students and teachers to customize their own “sets” of flashcards. You can manage access to the flashcards you create and share them with your students.
This web 2.0 tool uses cell phones and/or laptops to gather feedback from students. You can post as many questions as you’d like, which is nice if you have several classes.
Web 2.0 Tools – Document Annotation
101. Crocodoc (LinkedIn Teacher Favorite!)
Crocodoc is very useful for reviewing and marking up student papers and assignments. You can upload and display documents in your browser without Flash or any plugins and then use the Crocodoc tools to write comments, edit and highlight.