Reading in the Content Areas
TeachersFirst offers this collection of web resources well suited to teach reading in the content areas, especially in science and social studies classes, but in almost ANY subject area. See "In the classroom" ideas and strategies for teaching reading across the curriculum and find texts to use on the computer, in print, or in interactive whiteboard/projector. Sometimes using web-based texts can be more engaging, and often these are more up-to-date. Practice with these resources is certain to help student mastery of informational texts.
Grades9 to 12
In the ClassroomDuring discussion of the Kingdom Monera, learn more about bacteria and our health with these articles which many will find informative and interesting. Consider creating blog posts or newsletter articles that can be shared between classes. Identify the common misconceptions of the role of bacteria in our lives. Create a class bacteria wiki. Learn more about wikis at the TeachersFirst's Wiki Walk-Through. These text articles can also be copied easily to your interactive whiteboard software for practice with science notetaking, main idea, summarizing, and more as part of content area reading practice.
Grades3 to 12
There are additional features if you choose to subscribe, particularly the Visual Thesaurus interactive word maps, which can be saved and printed, and an online edition in multiple languages for English-speaking students learning other languages and ESL/ELL students.
Caution! Before purchasing a subscription, see if the free portion of the website satisfies your needs or take advantage of the 14-day risk-free trial to see all the features in action. When a school subscription is purchased, student workbooks and Teachers' Guide with lesson plans are included.
In the ClassroomTeachers and students can use the VocabGrabber on an interactive whiteboard, projector, or individual computers to highlight vocabulary specific to a literary work or curricular subject area, to improve reading comprehension by choosing key concepts and literary terms, and to build background knowledge for a given text. As an added benefit, have students click on the VocabGrabber when typing their own assignments such as a poem or an essay, to avoid repeating the same word. They simply type in a word and generate a list of synonyms and more descriptive words. VocabGrabber enables students to see how words are used in context, instead of memorizing word lists. Additionally, VocabGrabber is extremely helpful for students preparing for standardized tests. Be sure to include this site on your class web page for students to access both in and outside of class for further practice.
Grades6 to 12
In the ClassroomShare this site on your interactive whiteboard or projector. Use the Gateway for information or supplementing the curriculum. Additionally, the Gateway can be used to introduce projects or investigations of world issues. Connect with the journalists to show actual research and personal investigations into these stories. Connect reading and writing across the curriculum no matter your content area using statistics, geography, and many other skills. For example, "Water Wars" is a must see no matter what subject you teach. Use one of these issues as a theme for building reading comprehension and research skills, perhaps creating a class wiki guide to the topic or inviting students to write blog posts as the different people affected by the problem. Why not provide this link on your class website for students to share with their families to promote interesting discussions at home, as well.
Grades7 to 12
In the ClassroomHave the students make a cumulative map of all Hudson's voyages together in order for them to get a chance to become intimately familiar with the map making process. Try a site such as Zeemaps, reviewed here. Zeemaps allows students to create audio recordings AND choose a location on a map where each story takes place. Have each cooperative learning group focus on a different exploration. Compare their creations with the online map which has all four voyages combined. Assign students in a group each a few pages of an imagined journal Henry might have written on each voyage. The most interesting part will be to imagine what happened to him after people no longer heard from him! Use this site as the starting point for individual research papers. Encourage students to find other resources that contribute to their knowledge of Henry Hudson. Have students write a talk Hudson might give if he suddenly woke up today (like Rip Van Winkle). Or make it more Web 2.0 and have students write blog entries. The text passages on this site are also ideal for reading comprehension practice. Project them on an interactive whiteboard for practice in main idea, summarizing, and more.
Grades8 to 12
tag(s): weather (210)
In the ClassroomStudents could be assigned different false science statements to research and design their own science news articles comparing fact and fiction. Why not make this a multimedia project and have students complete a podcast, online poster, or narrated photo! For podcasts, try PodOmatic, reviewed here. To create an online poster use a site such as Padlet (reviewed here). Challenge cooperative learning groups to find a photo related to their topic (legally permitted to be reproduced), and then label the photo by adding voice bubbles to explain what they learned using a tool such as Superlame, reviewed here. To find Creative Commons images for student projects (with credit, of course), try Compfight, reviewed here. A class could also be assigned a specific false science fact to research and participate in a class blog or message board discussion via the class web page or wiki site. Students could also use the fiction as the basis for their own "Myth busters" episodes. Reading teachers looking for passages to use in reading comprehension practice, such as finding main idea and supporting details will find these non-fiction passages informative and interesting for their students. Make a temporary copy of one of the explanations to display in your interactive whiteboard software as students highlight key ideas and separate out supporting details using the whiteboard tools. Your science teachers will LOVE you for it!
Grades6 to 12
In the ClassroomBe sure to tell your students that they are NOT the "dummies" referred to in this site! Then go beyond the obvious use of this site as a reference to use it to teach informational writing, reading comprehension, or any curriculum content. Share text-based articles on a projector or interactive whiteboard and have students analyze the keywords and structure of sequential direction-writing or informational writing before they try it on their own. Use the pens and highlighters to note transitions and other ways of organizing directions, including formatting. Use articles to teach basic comprehension skills by copy/pasting sections and having students drag them into the correct sequence on the whiteboard to form logical directions. In science or social studies classes, have students view models on this site, then work in groups to write their own how-to wiki on curriculum topics such as "How to tell a fungus from a bacterium," "How to solve simultaneous equations," or "How to form a government." If you have access to video equipment, have students write scripts and produce video versions of their how-to instructions and post them on a site such as TeacherTube reviewed here.
GradesK to 12
In the ClassroomThe sky is the limit for potential and possibilities with this website. There are some minor warnings. If you want to allow your students to post to a blog, you will need to create a class and then have them enroll. The great news is that is free. As the teacher, you can moderate or delete posts before they are public. There are lessons available on the site as well as a "Teacher's Lounge" where lesson ideas can be exchanged. In a language arts classroom, students could be assigned to read and blog as a weekly writing assignment. The teacher can assign a specific article or have students choose. Have students read their articles on a podcast using podOmatic, reviewed here. In science, articles from this site could be used to supplement science textbook reading with current articles that better interest students. Articles are short and provide quick practice pieces for non-fiction reading comprehension. Project a story and ask students to write their own sentence for the main idea or to summarize. These quick pieces would fit well on your interactive whiteboard. SmithsonianTweenTribune Espanol allows students to read daily news articles in Spanish and post comments about the stories they read. Teachers moderate all comments before the comments are posted.
Grades1 to 12
One disadvantage of the site is that you can only enter a keyword when you get to the third step. After a book list based on interests appears, then you can search by keyword to make the search zero in on specifics. When teachers or students select books for a reading list, they can then click to see the complete list of books they have selected. Clicking on a book title leads to another screen, but it does not contain a book summary; instead, it has a list of other keywords for the book along with other book data.
In the ClassroomThis site is great for teachers searching for books at specific lexile levels. Learning support and ESL/ELL teachers can find books to accompany units in content area classes but on the correct lexile level. Students can also use the site by entering their grade levels and what kind of readers they are. Use this site to differentiate the learning experience for all levels of students. Rather than having students complete traditional book reports, why not have them complete a multimedia project? Provide some choices such as a podcast, using PodoMatic (reviewed here), interactive venn diagram comparing characters (reviewed here), or online book using Bookemon (reviewed here).
GradesK to 3
This site includes advertising.
In the ClassroomThis website could be used for an entire class using your interactive whiteboard or projector. You could also set up a learning center for use during your L.A. block. Use this site to differentiate reading levels for your students. Be certain to save this site in your class favorites and list this site on your class website for students to access both in and out of the classroom.
Grades3 to 8
In the ClassroomSince the subtitle for this page is "Reading Comprehension and Test Preparation," recommend this site to ESL and ELL students preparing for standardized tests. Save it in your favorites on class computers and provide the link on your class website for students to access both in the classroom and out. The activities would also work well on interactive whiteboard.
Share the "Signs" link with your students. Challenge students to create their own signs, similar to those used at this site. Have cooperative learning groups create interactive posters featuring their signs using a tool such as (PicLits - explained here). Share the "PicLits" on an interactive whiteboard or projector.
Grades8 to 12
tag(s): environment (322)
In the ClassroomEngage students in topics relevant to today and students' lives by reading and responding to a variety of timely and peer reviewed articles. Use your own class blog or wiki to elicit responses and conversations from your students. Use this site for research and lesson ideas. Additionally, teach students to review and annotate articles while searching for more information to validate or refute those viewpoints. Have cooperative learning groups create multimedia projects to share their findings: wiki, video, or podcast. Not sure what a wiki is? Check out TeachersFirst's Wiki Walk-Through. Share the video using Teachers.tv (reviewed here). Create a podcast using a tool such as Podomatic (reviewed here). Learning support teachers working to build content-reading skills will find these articles ideal for practice. Share an article on an interactive whiteboard for students to highlight key terms and generate a sentence for the Main Idea of the article. Cooperate with the biology teacher so students practice with topics currently being studied. If you are not sure of the reading level, check the URL for the article using a tool such as Juicystudio, reviewed here.
GradesK to 5
In the ClassroomThis site is a good one to search for quick and easy ideas to celebrate Mother's Day. Save this site in your class favorites and use this site as a learning center for partners to explore together.
Grades2 to 6
In the ClassroomShare this informative site with your students on an interactive whiteboard or projector. Have cooperative learning groups explore this site together. Why not challenge students to create a news broadcast highlighting the holiday. Tape the broadcasts and share them on a site such as Teachers.TV (explained here).
GradesK to 12
Each content area has successful resources that you can use.
Content areas include Preparing, Learning, Studying, Learning with Others, Online Learning/Communicating, Classroom Participation, Project Management, Research, Reading Skills, Preparing for Test, Science and Technology, Math, Resources, Vocabulary/Spelling, Writing Styles, Writing Basics, and Taking Tests. There are over 100 individual topics to explore: Time Management, Avoiding Procrastination, Learning with ADHD, Effective Study Habits, Peer Mediation, Problem Based Learning, Netiquette, Public Speaking, Citing Websites, SQ3R, KWL, Overcoming Test Anxiety, Ten Tips for Terrific Test Taking, Prefixes and Root Words, Seven Stages of Writing, and countless others!
There are some basic advertisements at this site. Flash and Acrobat Reader are needed for some of the links and can be obtained here: TeachersFirst Toolbox page.
In the ClassroomThis site is one to save in your favorites! There is so much here, it is hard to know where to begin. The language offerings provide opportunities for ESL and ELL students to learn study skills in their native language. This site could also be used in world languages classes.
Why not highlight a "study skill" each week using your interactive whiteboard or projector. Then have students TRY it. Most of the topics provide interactive learning or another assignment to help students practice the skill. Have students work individually or with a partner to explore the "topic of the week." These life skills are so necessary, but hard to fit into the already crammed curriculum. This site does a nice job of integrating the study skills with curriculum content. Have students create their own multimedia projects about study skills using a current unit of study from your class.
GradesK to 8
tag(s): st patricks day (12)
In the ClassroomUse an interactive whiteboard or projector and challenge your students with this St. Patrick's Day fun!
Grades6 to 12
In the ClassroomTeachers can pick and choose easily from among several strands of thought among these lesson plans, either to supplement a unit on the Civil War, for use during Black History observations, or in an English class focused on story telling and personal voice. It could also provide interesting materials for reading comprehension practice using content area materials. All the plans follow a pretty regular format: link to the Times article, read it and discuss, but this kind of break from the use of a standard textbook can be refreshing. Many plans include a vocabulary list, ideas for extension activities and focus on making the lesson as interdisciplinary as possible. As you celebrate Presidents Day (especially Lincoln's 200th birthday in 2009), check out this site for Lincoln resources!
GradesK to 12
In the ClassroomNo matter what you teach, these resources will help you target reading and study skills for better comprehension and more.
Grades3 to 12
This site does have several appropriate advertisements. There are also a few questionable links on the site (for example, "Uncensored English"), so be sure to supervise WELL.
In the ClassroomYou will need headphones or speakers if you choose to assign students to listen to the podcasts individually. This site is excellent for enrichment or special topics. Include it on your teacher web page (with a disclaimer regarding content) for students to access both in and out of class. Use this site with intermediate and advanced level ELL and ESL students to help them improve their knowledge of English slang and idioms. If you are into video, consider creating your own student vodcasts about idioms and sharing them via TeacherTube ( reviewed here) and on your class wiki.
GradesK to 6
Caution: although you are able to use many of these items for free, most downloads ask that you input your email address. You can bypass this by clicking submit without inputting your email address. This website requires Adobe Acrobat. You can get it from the TeachersFirst Toolbox page. .