Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…

…For Teaching ELL, ESL, & EFL

The Best Websites For K-12 Writing Instruction/Reinforcement

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'Writing Home In Calling Lake Alberta' photo (c) 2011, Mennonite Church USA Archives - license:

Here’s another one of my “Best of…” lists. This time it’s focused on websites to support writing instruction/reinforcement for grades K-12.

You might also find these other writing-related “The Best…” lists useful:

The Best Posts On Writing Instruction
The Best Places Where Students Can Write Online
The Best Sites For Grammar Practice
Not “The Best,” But “A List” Of Mindmapping, Flow Chart Tools, & Graphic Organizers
The Best Resources For Researching & Writing Biographies
The Best Resources For Learning How To Write Response To Literature Essays
The Best Places Where Students Can Write For An “Authentic Audience”
The Best Places Where Students Can Create Online Learning/Teaching Objects For An “Authentic Audience”
The Best Places To Read & Write “Choose Your Own Adventure” Stories
The Best Sites To Learn About Advertising
The Best Websites For Developing Academic English Skills & Vocabulary
The Best Online Interactive Exercises For Writing That Are Not Related To Literary Analysis (includes Problem/Solution essay resources)
The Best Online Resources To Teach About Plagiarism
The Best Resources For Learning Research & Citation Skills
The Best Sites For Students To Create & Participate In Online Debates
The Best Online Resources For Helping Students Learn To Write Persuasive Essays
The Best Spelling Sites
The Best Sites For Gaining A Basic Understanding Of Adjectives
The “Best” Sites For Helping Students Write Autobiographical Incident Essays
The Best Sites To Learn “Feelings” Words
The Best Sites For ELL’s To Learn About Punctuation
The Best Resources To Help Students Write Research Essays


Here are what I think are The Best Websites For K-12 Writing Instruction/Reinforcement (I know that title is quite a mouthful!):

Number nine is a site that’s made a number of my lists, but is usually not near the top because it costs money — Brainpop. For a few hundred dollars a year, a class can watch excellent animated movies about writing and many other topics, along with additional online activities. Plus, the movies are now closed-captioned, which is great for English Language Learners.

Number seven is Scholastic’s Create A Tale. Students can….create a tale using step-by-step instructions including images.

The BBC’s Story Plant is ranked sixth. Here, too, students are guided to create a simple story. I particularly like this site because it offers audio support for the text you see on the screen.

Number five is no longer free, so I’ve removed it from this list.

Number four is Essay Punch. It’s the free online version of a fairly popular program that is also available for purchase. It offers an interactive step-by-step model for writing an essay. At the bottom of its webpage you can also find links to other versions, including Paragraph Punch, Business Letter Punch, etc.

BBC Skillwise has a great Writing site filled with interactive activities and is number three on my list. One of my favorites is The Virtual Traveller. In it, students can choose a place from around the world; listen to someone speaking in simple English about it; type notes when they’re listening; write a short summary; choose pictures; and then print it all out.

Kevin Jarrett has written about a new site from the Sesame Workshop called Pinky Dinky Doo.  He gives a good overview of what it offers, so I’d encourage you to go directly to his post.  I’d like to highlight one area of the site that I’m adding to this list.  It’s called Your Story Box, and is basically a simple cloze (gap-fill) activity where users fill-in the blanks with images that are converted into words. Audio support is also provided to the text.  It’s a great exercise for Beginning English Language Learners.

Holt has another collection of student essays.

Scholastic has a wide variety of student model essays. Look under Projects By Subject near the bottom right of the page.

Houghton Mifflin has a decent collection of student essays, though I don’t think they’re as good as the other sites I’ve mentioned.

Here’s a new Holt collection of interactive essays.

Here are sources of writing examples specifically aligned with the Common Core Standards:

Appendix B: Text Exemplars and Sample Performance Tasks

In Common: Effective Writing for All Students Collection of All Narrative Samples, K-12

Achieve The Core Common Core writing samples from classrooms around the country.

Ten Ideas That Get Kids Writing is from The National Writing Project.

121Writing Looks Like It Could Be Helpful, Especially With IB & Other Advanced Classes

“Writing with Purpose: Personal Narratives by Teenagers” is from What Kids Can Do. It offers some good writing models.

Writing bingo is a very creative lesson plan from Sandy Millin.

Skills Practice | Writing Effective Openings is an exceptional lesson plan at The New York Times Learning Network.

The British Council has a good series of interactive writing skills exercises.

The Online Writing Lab from Excelsior College has some great resources for English Language Learners.

The Moving Writers have created a great collection of mentor texts.

WISE EYES: Prompting for Meaningful Student Writing is from The National Writing Project.

Student Winners From Our 2015 Review Contest is from The New York Times Learning Network. It showcases many winners of a contest where students had to write reviews of “works of culture that were new to them.” It’s a rich source of mentor texts.

NY Times Learning Network Announces Student Editorial Contest (& Shares Past Winner Mentor Texts)

Thoughtful Learning has a great collection of model texts in multiple genres and grade levels.

Learn Alberta’s  Writing Samples page has tons of ELL…writing samples.

EL Education has created Models Of Excellence, a resource bank of student work exemplars.

The New York Times Learning Network announced Winning Reviews from Our 2016 Student Contest. They invited students to pick an event or another element of culture and write a review about it. They make great mentor texts.

A Call to Action: Winners From Our Fourth Annual Student Editorial Contest is from The New York Times Learning Network.

As with all these lists, they’re entirely subjective. I’m certainly open to hearing other feedback.

You can see the other “Best of…” lists here.

You can also subscribe to this blog for free here.

Author: Larry Ferlazzo

I'm a high school teacher in Sacramento, CA.

One Comment

  1. Dear Larry,

    I just came across your website a couple of weeks ago, and I must tell you I think it’s a wonderful one! I’m finding extraordinary websites to help my students with their learning process and I’m already using some of those resources with them.

    Today’s choice was amazing. I keep adding links to my Favourite Bookmarks / Delicious thanks to your posts.

    I really want to thank you for the time and effort you invest in this work, which is extremely valuable for us teachers out there.

    Best regards,

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