www.Quizlet.com is an excellent Web site for teachers and students! While it makes simple flash cards, it also creates games for students (such as matching words and definitions by drag and drop). I've seen kids get hooked on studying for their vocabulary this way. Multiple exposures!
One major CCC (Common Core Concern--I'm inventing acronyms now! There aren't enough!) is finding quality non-fiction and informational texts to use with students. People don't want to buy new textbooks and resources. I would argue that non-fiction resources are FREE and OMNIPRESENT! Newspaper articles, speeches (both contemporary and historical) from online, magazine ads, cereal boxes, restaurant menus--ALL are opportunities to study audience, tone, rhetorical strategies, and other text structures. An English teacher can Google any topic from his/her current literature and find informational texts to support the work. For example, if you're teaching Lyddie by Katherine Paterson, Google "memoirs lowell mills" and find primary source documents and diaries. It really is that easy. You might have to sort through some sources to find the right text complexity for the level you teach, but it's worth it! I hope we don't use cost as an excuse not to explore the amazing world of informational texts. This Common Core shift is a challenge, but it will help us build students' literacy skills.
Lastly, the DESE is collecting student work as part of a project to show the Writing Standards in Action. Please see the two paragraphs below. If you're interested, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information, or email David Buchanan, the Program Coordinator, at email@example.com. This project is an awesome opportunity for teachers as they organize their final portfolios at the end of the school year.
The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (ESE) is offering Professional Development Points (PDPs) to teachers who contribute high quality student writing to the Writing Standards in Action Project. When the material is published along with commentary on the ESE website, it will offer samples of a greater spectrum of types of writing than is currently available. The material will define standards for writing through actual student work itself, and it will offer guidance for teachers, students and parents about the elements of quality written work. Please consider sending work from any content area that demonstrates a high level of engagement with the content material and has remained open for revision.
Teachers will receive 10 PDPs for the submission of 10 or more samples of student writing and related background information. The project is also seeking candidates with expertise in writing to serve on a committee to review and select student samples