Writing with Wordle

Wordle for The RavenYou probably would have guessed that raven was one of the most frequently used words in Poe’s “The Raven,” but the Wordle word cloud on the right makes the impact of that word visually obvious. Wordle is a free tool that can make a word cloud out of any text that is pasted into a form or by using the text on a webpage. It includes some choices for formatting, so that you can change the color and layout of the words. You can also omit commonly used words. The final cloud can be printed or saved.

Last week, Edutopia shared some ideas for using Wordle in the classroom, as part of their New Teacher Boot Camp. In addition to checking out the Edutopia resources, take a look at these blog posts for more ideas on using word clouds for reading and writing activities in the classroom:

 


This post is the introduction from “July 11 to 16 on ReadWriteThink.” Read the rest of the post on Facebook.

Preventing the Summer Slide: June 6 to June 11 on ReadWriteThink

Red SlideWhen learning stops during the summer, students suffer from what is referred to as the summer slide—a loss of ability and knowledge from the close of school in the spring to the reopening in the fall.

Take advantage of the long summer days, and prevent summer learning loss with Thinkfinity’s fun, interactive games and activities. In addition to online games and engaging summertime activities, you’ll find recommended reading lists as well as a discussion forum where parents and educators can interact.

For a review of the resources on ReadWriteThink, watch the new Engaging Students After School and at Home video, and check out the calendar entries, lesson plans, and classroom activities below for more classroom and summer ideas. Have a great week!

New Resources

From the Calendar

Connecting with Other Teachers

If you have feedback or questions about ReadWriteThink, all you have to do is contact us.

 

[Photo: Red Slide by javcon117, on Flickr]

Teaching Spelling Without the Sting: May 31 to June 4 on ReadWriteThink

BeeIt’s the time of year when spelling exotic words that you’d never use in day-to-day communication is all the rage. The final rounds of the Scripps Spelling Bee take place, with daily coverage on ESPN.

As I wrote in an NCTE Inbox blog post a couple of years ago, the problem is that while spelling has apparently become prime time entertainment, spelling bees still aren’t good pedagogy. A 2007 Washington Post article explains that spelling bees provide limited support to students learning about words and the ways that they work. Sue Ann Gleason, the teacher quoted in the article explains the spelling bees “honor the children who already know how to spell, but they do little to support those who need explicit instruction.”

So while the Spelling Bee may get kids and their families interested in spelling for a few days, take a look at the spelling lesson plans and activities on ReadWriteThink for ways to support every student (not just the ones who can spell funny words like weissnichtwo. And check out the calendar entries, lesson plans, and classroom activities below for more classroom-ready ideas. Have a great week!

New Resources

From the Calendar

Connecting with Other Teachers

If you have feedback or questions about ReadWriteThink, all you have to do is contact us.

[Photo: Bee by _PaulS_, on Flickr]

Resources that Rocked the Classroom This Year: May 15 to 21 on ReadWriteThink

El Camion Mexicano, Soho, W1Now that classes are nearly over, it’s that time when I begin reflecting on the year and deciding which activities I want to be sure to try again next year. I try to think of the resources that surprised me or particularly engaged students.

One of my favorites is Cooking Up Descriptive Language: Designing Restaurant Menus. It gave students a chance to compose menus that reflected their family and cultural backgrounds, and they were able to learn more about text design and layout. I’ll definitely try it again, and I’m considering other possibilities for the activity, like using it as a book report alternative by asking students to create a menu for a restaurant that characters in a novel visit (or might visit). It was definitely a keeper!

For more great classroom activities, check out the calendar entries, lesson plans, and classroom activities below for this week. Have a great week!

New Resources

  • Share the stories of war, sacrifice and honor of these heroic women and men with your students with this special collection of lessons, interactives and resources on Honoring Our Military.
  • Help students understand the science of spring with lessons and activities from Thinkfinity.org, including The Science of Spring from Science NetLinks.
  • Explore the universe with your students. Launch rockets, explore planets and test gravity with lessons and interactive tools.
  • Make the most of summer. Use the Verizon Thinkfinity resources to kick off a summer of learning for students.

From the Calendar

  • May 22: Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood premiered in 1967. After thinking about TV shows, books, and movies from their childhood, students write about what they remember and revisit how they feel about it at an older age. (For grades 7–12)
  • May 23: Author Scott O’Dell was born on this day. Students select a set of books to read and compare fiction and nonfiction books and discuss their findings as a class. Students can follow up by writing short stories about the topics they explored.(For grades 5–12)
  • May 24: The Brooklyn Bridge opened on this day in 1883. Students explore the literary concept of point of view by examining a pair of picture books that highlight the controversies surrounding the Brooklyn Bridge. (For grades 5–12)
  • May 25: Ralph Waldo Emerson was born in 1803. Students visit a quotation attributed to Emerson and identify the definition of success. Students then use the Postcard Creator to write a note to a person that they feel is successful. (For grades 7–12)
  • May 26: Sally Ride, first American woman in space, was born in 1951. After exploring information about Sally Ride on the StarKids Who’s Who site, students write a letter using the Letter Generator to Dr. Ride. (For grades 3–8)
  • May 27: On this day in 1907, Rachel Carson was born. Students learn about Rachel Carson, explore different environmental websites, and write a Diamante Poem about a particular habitat. (For grades 3–12)
  • Look ahead to next week for lesson plans and activities on Memorial Day, the National Spelling Bee, the debut of CNN, Jesse James, and Walt Whitman.

Connecting with Other Teachers

If you have feedback or questions about ReadWriteThink, all you have to do is contact us.

 

[Photo: El Camion Mexicano, Soho, W1 by Ewan-M, on Flickr]

Preparing for the Last Weeks of the School Year: May 15 to 21 on ReadWriteThink

More empty classroom stuff, UMBCThe school year is soon coming to a close. Students will make their way to summer camps, family vacations, and nearby pools and parks. Before you face that room of empty desks, spend a few minutes thinking about the resource that worked best for you this year, make plans to reflect with students on all you’ve done during the year and encourage families to keep students learning during the summer months. Check out the calendar entries, lesson plans, and classroom activities below for this week and the approaching last weeks of the school year on the ReadWriteThink site. Have a great week!

New Resources

From the Calendar

Connecting with Other Teachers

If you have feedback or questions about ReadWriteThink, all you have to do is contact us.

 

[Photo: More empty classroom stuff, UMBC by sidewalk flying, on Flickr]

Focus on Cultural and Historical Exploration, May 8 to 14 on ReadWriteThink

29th Asian Pacific American Heritage FestivalIn her Community Story, Jacquelynn Pleis describes how she uses ReadWriteThink’s Exploring and Sharing Family Stories lesson plan as part of a year-end celebration of students’ cultural backgrounds. If you don’t have time for the kind of cultural fair that Pleis describes, try one of the cultural or historical events from this week’s calendar.

You can look at music and the blues, civil rights in the U.S., and the Puerto Rican Independence movement. For a wider focus, ask students to talk about their personal heroes, whether cultural, historical, or both, as part of a celebration of Star Wars creator George Lucas’s birthday. Finally, May is Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, so it’s a wonderful time to honor the heritage of Asian and Pacific Americans and their contributions to the United States.

Find lesson plans and classroom activities to kick off your cultural and historical exploration plus what’s new on the ReadWriteThink site detailed below. Have a great week!

New Resources

From the Calendar

Connecting with Other Teachers

If you have feedback or questions about ReadWriteThink, all you have to do is contact us.

 

[Photo: 29th Asian Pacific American Heritage Festival by Asian/Pacific American Heritage Festival, on Flickr]

May 1 to 7 on ReadWriteThink

May is Get Caught Reading Month!May is Get Caught Reading Month, a nationwide public service campaign launched by the Association of American Publishers to remind people of all ages how much fun it is to read. The celebration is supported by hundreds of celebrities, including LL Cool J, Dylan and Cole Sprouse, and the newest addition, Olivia the Pig.

This week on ReadWriteThink, you can find activities for Get Caught Reading Month and many other events as well as other lesson plans and classroom resources. Have a great week!

New Resources

From the Calendar

  • May 1: Asian Pacific American Heritage Month is in May! Students consider the portrayal of Asians in popular culture by exploring images from classic and contemporary films and comparing them to historical and cultural reference materials.
    (For grades 9–12)
     
  • May 1: May is Get Caught Reading Month! Celebrate by doing a reading-related service project such as planning an intergenerational reading day or organizing a book drive. (For grades K–12)
     
  • May 2: Teacher Appreciation Week honors our teachers. In celebration of Teacher Appreciation Week, students read a book about a teacher and follow up with an activity related to the book using the Venn Diagram, Letter Generator, Story Map, or Essay Map. (For grades 3–12)
     
  • May 2: Celebrate National Children’s Book Week! Children show support for their favorite Children’s Choice Book award finalist by designing a promotional book cover. (For grades K–6)
     
  • May 3: National Public Radio began broadcasting in 1971. Students make predictions about the content of some of NPR’s programs, then listen to the programs and report on the contents and discuss with the class. (For grades 7–12)
     
  • May 5: It’s Cinco de Mayo. Students research a piece of art, music, dance, literature, or food that suitably represents Mexico and create a presentation for the class. (For grades 7–12)
     
  • Look ahead to next week for literacy activities on blues legend Robert Johnson, Newbery Medalist Christopher Paul Curtis, the Puerto Rican Independence movement, and Star Wars creator George Lucas.

Connecting with Other Teachers

If you have feedback or questions about ReadWriteThink, all you have to do is contact us. Have a great week!

April 24 to 30 on ReadWriteThink

Celebrate El Día de Los Niños/El Día de Los Libros (Children's Day/Book Day)!April 30 is El Día de Los Niños/El Día de Los Libros (Children’s Day/Book Day). Developed under the leadership of author Pat Mora, this celebration focuses on providing children with books in many languages and making reading an integral part of their lives.

El Día de Los Niños/El Día de Los Libros is supported by the Association for Library Service to Children, a division of the American Library Association (ALA), and REFORMA, an ALA affiliate that provides library and information services to Latinos and the Spanish-speaking community.

This week on ReadWriteThink, you can find activities for El Día de Los Niños/El Día de Los Libros as well as other lesson plans and resources for timely classroom activities. Have a great week!

New Resources

From the Calendar

Connecting with Other Teachers

If you have feedback or questions about ReadWriteThink, all you have to do is contact us. Have a great week!

—Traci Gardner

 

April 17 to 23 on ReadWriteThink

First grade reading - small group breakoutApril is both National Poetry Month and National Humor Month. Celebrate by having students write funny poems and perform them for their classmates. Try using interactive poetry tools, or challenge your students to create a video about their written work to share with others. For more ideas, check out how others bring humor and giggles into their classrooms on the Thinkfinity Community.

This week on ReadWriteThink, you can find more resources for timely classroom activities. Have a great week!

New Resources

From the Calendar

  • April 18: Paul Revere began his famous midnight ride in 1775.
    Through the study of Paul Revere, students learn about primary source documents while researching their family histories, with which they create and compare their family trees.(For grades 4–8)
     
  • April 20: Celebrate author Mary Hoffman’s birthday. Students write original picture books based on their own aspirations and dreams and share with the class or with younger students. (For grades 1–9)
     
  • April 21: Barbara Park, author of the Junie B. Jones series, was born. Students write their own “Junie B.” stories, based on the Junie B. Jones series, after brainstorming issues they’ve experienced during the school year. (For grades 1–6)
     
  • April 22: Celebrate Earth Day! Students research famous environmentalists and write letters to them asking for their opinions on current issues and turn their letters into a poem. (For grades 3–12)
     
  • April 23: William Shakespeare was born in 1564. Based on grade level, students learn about rhyming structure, experiment with the Shakespearean Insult Kit, or study scenes from Othello and watch an adaptation of that scene from the movie O.(For grades 1–12)
     
  • Look ahead to next week for literacy activities on the Library of Congress, the bombing of Guernica, and the birthdays of Coretta Scott King, August Wilson, Lois Duncan, and Yusef Komunyakaa.

Connecting with Other Teachers

If you have feedback or questions about ReadWriteThink, all you have to do is contact us. Have a great week!

 
[Photo: First grade reading – small group breakout by woodleywonderworks, on Flickr]

April 10 to April 16 on ReadWriteThink

NASA GOES-12 Full Disk view March 30, 2010It’s nearly Earth Day! Energize students about preserving the environment with eco-friendly classroom lessons and interactive games from Thinkfinity.org.

This week on ReadWriteThink, you can find more resources for Earth Day and other poetry activities, lesson plans, and calendar resources to support you. Have a great week!

New Resources

From the Calendar

Connecting with Other Teachers

If you have feedback or questions about ReadWriteThink, all you have to do is contact us.

 
[Photo: NASA GOES-12 Full Disk view March 30, 2010 by NASA Goddard Photo and Video, on Flickr]