(and Writing Class)
with Least Tern
Activities | Software Tools | e-Texts | HyperFiction
to Read and Write - a primer with activities for the English teacher,
focused upon the critical reading of fiction and non-fiction.
Commercial "reading instruction" software is readily available. The individual teacher can, however, structure sound digital reading activities using a word processor, e-texts, software tools provided free to education, and homemade web pages. The activities below are literature-based samples of lessons and activities that focus upon the development of reading skills as well as literary analysis, grammar or vocabulary. Activities are suitable for group or individual work. See Hot Potatoes below.Read About It: emcompass english: Reading
Software Tools - Hot Potatoes | Word Processors | Databases | Graphic Organizers | e-Texts | HyperFiction
- Hot Potatoes - This software package is free to educators. It was used to create the Cloze activities and the web-based tests and quizzes accessed through the menu above. The toolkit has 3 parts:
- JBC - creates multiple-choice activities based upon a text or a graphic (a map, for example).
- JQuiz - creates short answer activities - the teacher specifies a range of acceptable responses
- JMix - creates a jumbled word or jumbled sentence activity
- JCross - creates a crossword puzzle
- JMatch - creates a matching exercise - combines graphics and text - this can now be saved as DHTML (dynamic .html) to create a drag & drop exercise for Java-enabled browsers (very useful for foreign language lessons).
- JCloze - fill in exercises for cloze reading practice or for completing a task from a word bank
- Word Processors -
- Both AW and Microsoft Word allow students to easily create and manipulate tables. Close reading of a paragraph, passage, or page can be made more structured, varied, independent and enjoyable if the student is asked to organize "notes" into a table. Comparing two passages is also easily structured this way. Examples:
- Outlines are another method for organizing reading content. AW and Word both simplify the creation of an outline. Both PowerPoint and Inspiration can be used in outline mode. Inspiration outlines will export directly to Word and AW. This is a powerful tool for analyzing a nonfiction paragraph. Teachers can improve student performance by providing the text digitally so that the student has only to copy-paste into the outline.
- eTexts can be imported and annotated, by students as well as teachers.
- Databases are generally thought of as tools for data analysis. They are also powerful tools for reading. For example, a database containing only the fields listed below can form the basis for a yearlong portfolio of reading growth. In a pair-reading exercise or individually, students can enter vocabulary words and phrases that confuse or challenge them. They make a "best guess", then locate (online, by asking, with a dictionary) an "accurate meaning". This database, in List View, can print a vocabulary list. Other database formats that support reading and the development of portfolios are Journals and Summaries/Annotations. Databases can be searched, printed in a variety of layouts, organized by date, text, reader, and exported to spreadsheets. With the help of a network server and Claris HomePage, databases can be mounted as web pages.
Fields: date (autoentry), reader, text, word or phrase, best guess, meaning, source (value list or pop-up menu)
AppleWorks database templates are included here as samples. FileMaker Pro is a much more robust database for classroom use. AW databases can be imported into FMPro. Please feel free to download these templates. We ask only that you give credit to Least Tern.
Least Tern offers a 1-day workshop in the use of FileMaker Pro or AW database in the classroom.
- Concept Mapping & Graphic Organizers
- Inspiration is the best software for graphical idea-mapping and webbing. Laptop licensing and volume licensing are available. See an example of its output (in graphical mode - it also is a powerful outliner) at this Dies Drear page. Kidspiration is perhaps even more flexible, and useful for elementary grades through lower-middle.
- Index of Graphic Organizers - examples, many created in Inspiration, of types of organizational systems
- AW Drawing can also be used to create concept maps and Venn diagrams. The shapes can be created by the teacher, locked, and distributed in a template. If your network allows, shapes can be added to the Clippings library.
- The same effect can be more easily achieved in Microsoft Word, where a template page can be created with a frame row or column holding the icons (PC only).
- PowerPoint contains an icon library specifically for flow charting and idea mapping.
- Another source of Concept Mapping icons is a Web Page. Teachers can either create their own page of icons or refer students to an online icon library. iTools makes it easy to upload a teacher page for access via the Internet (this is, unfortunately, no longer a free service to Mac users). Please remember that fair use does not allow you rights to the copy protected icons and images included in software packages.
- E-Texts - Don't overlook the value of e-texts when you are studying reading! Copyright-free texts provide the teacher with a boundless array of digital reading selections. Some sample sources are listed below:
- E-Texts - Least Tern's master listing of texts for teaching
- A Web Directory of Literary etexts
- Poetry on the Web - links to online poetry sources
- Google - most e-texts are quickly found by this search engine - however, many are in not in the public domain
- American Memory from the Library of Congress - full text of primary source documents - transcribed interviews are both interesting and challenging
- local historical societies online
- online newspapers (usually current issues only - Fair Use applies)
- Handheld e-Texts: listed by the PDA Librarian, these texts can be download to a Palm via a desktop - include classics, some primary sources, some children's lit
Least Tern offers a 1-day workshop in the use of e-Texts in the English and History classroom. See also our eTexts in American and British Literature.
- HyperFiction - A computer-enabled writing process, becoming more evident on the web - "Reading" is different in this genre
- Begin (and maybe end) with the resources compiled by Ted Nellen
- ButtonTalk - freeware for the Mac - you can also download a guide in .html and view samples
- Computers and Literature - scroll down to Part IV "Computers As Literature" for a links to serious hyperfiction - Rutgers University course outline
- Hyperfiction - Introductory materials and tools for k12 teachers - like Blogging and WIKI's, this is a technology implementation that spans many disciplines
- A Middle School hypermystery to whet your appetite: Scandal at the Science Fair by Karen Bellnier
- A Bug's Adventure was created by 7th and 8th grade students
- 3D Writer was created for the generation of hyperfiction - Windows only - lowcost with free evaluation copy - follow the Resources to see samples - creates web sites!! and images can be included
- Storyspace is a new tool for the creation of (multimedia) hyperfiction and web sites - read a teacher's review: Storyspace in the Classroom - this site will also yields many examples of its use
Elizabeth Sky-McIlvain 3/7/04