At a recent WATESOL workshop, Becky Shiring, an Instructional Coach at Carlos Rosario International PCS, shared some new, interesting and innovative websites to help engage students. The following sites use audio, visual, reading comprehension, and creative mediums to help students learn and have fun while doing it. Let us know if you use them and if your class enjoys it!
Newsela is a current events website that adjusts the reading difficultly depending on the learner’s level. If a story is too difficult, a student may select a lower level number and the story updates itself. This allows the entire class to read the same article but at a level that suits them. The site is also great for reading comprehension by offering quizzes and if a class account is created, can store students’ progress.
Kahoot: Create a free login and access free and fun quizzes for your students to take on any topic. You can even create your own! Search ESL and you’ll see quizzes for idioms, grammar vocab and more. With the option of creating your own, you can quiz your students in class or in Language Lab and contribute to the online community.
Flickr is a website that allows you to share photographs with anyone and it’s great for posting pictures of class events or graduations. You can create one for your class if you’re moving up with your students to create a webpage documenting your time together, and also allow students to upload their photos taken by smartphone. You could use the page for Photohunt activities, document a class field trip, party or presentation.
Storybird refers to itself as “A new literacy tool for a new generation” using visual storyboarding to and art to strengthen reading comprehension and writing skills. Students can practice writing a story based on a picture and then share it with classmates. The website is easy to use and class work can be kept private, easily reviewed and teachers can give feedback. If you’re looking to encourage an ongoing writing project with your students, this website is worth considering.
An easy to use animation site complete with storyboarding and silly characters to enhance student’s learning in writing and reading. Students can choose the backgrounds and characters in their animated short and then have to write the dialogue (and select background music). When finished, the website puts it all together into a short film!
In addition to having great podcasts and music, soundcloud allows students to record their voices an share. You can choose to pre-record something for dictation or students can use it for uploading themselves reading aloud. Teachers and students can play back the recording and listen for pronunciation errors and even create their own podcasts.
Freesound is a website of stock sounds—an audio counterpart to a stock photo website (like http://www.shutterstock.com/) with commonly used sounds. Students can play guessing games with the sounds to support vocabulary practice, modals or add sounds to presentations or group stories. Teachers can also have students write a story based on a series of sound effects.