Useful Literary Websites

Having a solid and well-planned out literacy program is my #1 priority for when I have my first classroom one day.  With all the scary statistics on reading and writing abilities of today’s youth, it is crucial that all educators across the country have a fun and engaging language arts curriculum that gets their students motivated to read and write.  As 21st-century teachers, we are lucky!  We have a never ending supply of resources and best practices easily available through the click of a mouse.  The Internet has become such a sacred tool in today’s schools that most educators (I bet) would probably say they get many of their ideas for activities and lessons from various websites or blogs where other teachers have posted tips or suggestions.  As a preservice teacher I figure I should not be wasting any time.  Why not go ahead and start compiling a list of useful literary websites that I can use in the future.  You can never be too prepared, right?!

The first website I like is Boom Writer.  It is an interactive website where classmates can work collaboratively on a single story.  You could compare it to shared writing or “sharing the pen.”  Watch this quick YouTube video to get an overview of how it works.  There are several interesting features of this website…

  • #1 – Each student still works independently on their own chapter but the finished project is a group effort.
  • #2 – All work must be submitted to the teacher for approval.  This way the teacher can decide if the student is Off Track, Staying On Track, or Blazing New Ground.  (Shout out to GMU rubric grading!)
  • #3 – The voting process is anonymous and all work is judge based on merit.  This is so important in my opinion!

I believe this activity can be a great way of getting students excited about writing and is similar to a technique called the Language Experience Approach (LEA) that I learned about in my own literacy class this semester.  LEA is an activity where students tell their own stories or dictate their own experiences to the teacher.  The other students in the class are able to make connections or draw upon their own experiences to add to the story or help make revisions to it.  This has been shown to be a very motivating and engaging activity for students.  Boom Writer also provides the option to read the book online or purchase it in soft cover to keep in your classroom library.

The second website I like is Storyline Online.  It is an online streaming video website.  Here students can go and listen to SAG (Screen Actors Guild) members read aloud different childrens books that come with accompanying lessons and activities.  This is a GREAT website for emergent and beginning readers but could be well-liked and appropriate for all ages.  Storyline Online could easily be used as a center since it is accessible through YouTube (the website does warn about some school systems blocking YouTube use – so check that it works before introducing it to your class).  As part of the center students could “Turn and Talk” with their partner and retell the story.  Another idea I came up with is using it during quiet time.  The website can be streamed via the SMART board and the whole class could listen and watch.

The third website I like is the Teaching Channel.  It is a website where registered members can trade ideas and share encouragement and inspiration with each other.  Watch this quick video for an overview of the Teaching Channel.  There are a few key factors I like best about this website…

  • #1 – The video library spans several different subject matters and focuses on all grade levels K-12.
  • #2 – The website also features a weekly one-hour program of Teaching Channel videos that airs on PBS stations throughout the country.
  • #3 – The quality of the videos posted is TOP NOTCH!  All videos are produced by a unique team of collaborative professionals.  They consist of video production experts, educational advisors, and the classroom teachers.

I found this website to be similar to Pinterest in that teachers can look for new and creative ideas.  What makes the Teaching Channel special is the high quality videos that they use and how beneficial and useful they are.

These three websites are just the beginning of my research into building a solid, organized, and well-planned out literacy program.  I look forward to using the approaches and ideas I found and incorporating them into my future classroom.

3 thoughts on “Useful Literary Websites

  1. Excellent resources to use, Katy. I have had interns express concern that the students will not know the actors and actresses reading the books on Storyline Online. I don’t see that as a problem. The majority of the people read with great expression (exception being Al Gore) that students get drawn into the story. YouTube has other good videos where the author of the children’s stories are reading their own books. This can be exciting for the students as well.

    You seem to like the idea of voting for the best chapter on Boom Writer. I had interns complain about this. They felt it was not fair to students whose chapter never got elected. I think this could motivate students to try their best, but it also could create hard feelings if you try your best and still do not succeed. I think Boom Writer can be incorporated, but it should not be the only form of creative writing (you might also try fan fiction).

    Dr. Sprague

  2. Katy,

    This post was full of such amazing resources! I’m with you; I really want to have a strong literacy plan in my classroom. I love reading, so I definitely do not want it to be a chore for my students. Reading and writing should be fun! I feel like it’s harder sometimes to get students excited about writing, but that BOOMWRITER site is such a wonderful resource. That will definitely get your students excited about writing if they know that they are writing it for an audience. I love your blog, can’t wait to read even more!

  3. Hi Katy,
    Thanks so much for posting these awesome resources! I just signed up for The Teaching Channel’s weekly newsletter and am really excited to see what they have to offer. It really is incredible all the resources we have at our fingertips–I know I spend a lot of time now finding creative lesson plans and classroom ideas on Pinterest to store for later. I especially loved the BoomWriter website. In the classroom where I am observing, the teacher has students work on Google Docs together and send to her for approval, but this seems even more geared toward literacy. And, I LOVE that you can actually have a copy of the book sent to you–how great would that be to add to a classroom library!

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