ReadWriteThink.org, funded by the International Literacy Association and the National Council of Teachers of English, offers several useful interactive tools and games which are engaging and free to use.
Teaching reading comprehension with Cube Creator
Cube Creator helps students think about the elements of a story or book they have read, so they can glean meaning. When they finish, they can save the information to a file or a print it out to make a paper origami cube. The website also provides free lesson plans.
Students can choose a cube for a biography, a mystery, or a story. You can also create a cube with your own questions, and save it for students to open and work on.
Students begin by entering their name and selecting a cube type. An animated cube then appears with a question on each side. For example, the Mystery Cube asks about the setting, the detective, the crime/mystery, the victim, the clues, and the solution. The questions for the Bio Cube and Story Cube are similarly adapted. When done, students can print their cube on 8.5×11 paper, save it as a PDF, save it as a draft file to enable later editing, or share it via email.
Teaching essay writing with Essay Map
Essay Map is an interactive graphic organizer which helps students develop an outline that includes an introductory statement, main ideas they want to discuss or describe, supporting details, and a conclusion that summarizes the main ideas. The tool offers multiple ways to navigate information including a graphic in the upper right-hand corner that allows students to move around the map without having to work in a linear fashion. The finished map can be saved, e-mailed, or printed.
The website offers many other tools and games, all of which come with lesson plans. These include a “Trading Card Creator” for organizing and summarizing, “Hero’s Journey,” for inquiry and analysis, “Fractured Fairy Tales” for writing and publishing prose, a variety of poem generators, and many many others. It’s well worth the time to mine the site for other gems!