Links for Learning

Below are some fun and educational links to websites that I use in my middle school classroom. Kids love them, I love them…check them out!

I teach all of my classes in a computer lab so naturally we use the internet a lot. My students are all between 12-14 years of age so I need to make sure whatever I use in class is appropriate. They find the bad stuff without my help!!  I teach Creative Writing and Newspaper Journalism.

Here they are:

  1. News Mania: This is a current events trivia game that my newspaper students play when they are finished with all of their work. It is part of the Newseum and the questions change daily. To encourage my students, I offer a Jolly Rancher to anyone who scores a 90% or higher. My kids will do anything for a piece of candy!
  1. Magnetic Poetry: On these sites, students can create endless poems using virtual refrigerator magnets. Other magnetic poetry sites:

o   Shadow Poetry

o   Magnetic Words

  1. Word Cloud CreatorMy students love making word clouds! This is my go-to beginning of the year getting-to-know-you activity. Students type in about 40-50 words that describe themselves, tell about their families, their likes and dislikes and then pop it all into the magical word cloud maker. Then, presto-bingo they have a beautiful picture that is all about them which they can then change the colors on and rearrange the layout…lots of fun choices. After that comes sharing time. It is a fun and nonthreatening first day of school activity.

I also use word clouds as a tool to help my students revise their creative writing papers. Words that appear larger in a word cloud are those that appear most frequently when typed into the cloud-maker. I ask my students to copy and paste their stories into the word cloud generator and they are immediately able to see which words they have over used. They then go back into Word and use the find tool to locate these words and change them. This is a fun and effective revision strategy. Note: some words will be used more frequently such as a character’s name.

  1. The Literacy Shed: This fabulous website is a treasure trove of visual resources which teachers can use to enhance lessons. It is divided up into different categories called “sheds”. A few of my favorite are The Fairy Tale Shed, The Fantasy Shed, The Story Starter Shed, and the Poetry Shed. Each resource includes ideas for use in the classroom. This site was a major find for me! Below are two videos I discovered on this website that I used to teach elements of a short story.


  1. Dog Island: This is a fake website that looks totally legit. I use it when I am teaching Internet research skills to my newspaper students. They think this site is horrible…and then hilarious!
  2. Tree Octopus: Another hoax website that looks totally authentic.
  3. Do Something:  My students find this site very inspiring and often look here for ideas to write about in our school newspaper. “ makes the world suck less. One of the largest orgs for young people and social change, our 2.5 million members tackle campaigns that impact every cause, from poverty to violence to the environment to literally everything else. Any cause, anytime, anywhere. *mic drop” website
  4. World Building Checklist: In my creative writing class I teach a unit where students create their own utopian or dystopian societies. Answering questions from this checklist helps them develop their new worlds. Using the list, students must consider a variety of elements a successful society must have in order to thrive. Topics covered are government, economy, religion, society and culture, science and magic, and the land.
  5. Seventh Sanctum: Students who enjoy writing fantasy or science fiction LOVE this website. When theyare stuck and need ideas, names, spells, weapons, fantasy characters, etc., this is where they go! Here is a blurb taken from the website that explains what the site offers:

    Since 1999 Seventh Sanctum has been your source for random generators of ideas, from story concepts to science fiction weapons to extremely silly spells. If you need ideas, inspiration, full stories, or a good laugh, then go on and enjoy!
    I’m Steve Savage, your host. I’m a former engineer, a Program Manager, and an author and writer. This site is designed to help people get their mojo going and have a good time doing it. Go on, kick around, and join the fun!

  6. Behind The Name: This is where my students go when they need to find a name for a character. Names are listed by cultures and time periods.  A fun feature on this website is the random name generator which will produce your Celtic name or  fairy name or rapper name or hippy name, etc. depending on which box you pick. My students LOVE this!


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