Yesterday, I published How I’m Helping My Students Try To Avoid The “Summer Slide” and shared several free and easy sites that my students will be using for a virtual “summer school.” They all were sites where I was able to create free “classes” and monitor student progress.
Well, after thinking about it a little more, I’ve added a few more sites to that list:
English For All is very simple to use — all you do is register and get a password for your class. Anyone with the password can then enroll in it. It’s designed for learning very practical English skills, and is free.
What’s missing from all the sites I have students using is the feature of having students being able to read books with audio and visual support for the text (though English Central has some of those elements with their videos). We used Raz Kids in our family literacy project, and students really enjoyed reading the stories. Unfortunately, it isn’t free, and has a yearly subscription fee of $90 for a classroom. I decided it was worth it, and paid for it myself. I think my students will get a lot out of it over the summer — the “talking books” cover all levels of reading comprehension. Teachers have to enroll students, but it’s very easy to do so — students read the books, answer quizzes, and can record themselves reading. In fact, teachers can have access to listening to those recordings!
First 55 is designed for very young children (or very Beginning English Language Learners) and has activities to learn the fifty-five most common words in the English language. In this free site, you have to set up the names and passwords of your students — they can’t enroll themselves — but it’s easy to do so. For this site, and for all others where I had to enroll them, I just include a downloadable sheet with everyone’s names and passwords in case they forget theirs.
MyTestbook offers some fairly simple grammar tests. They’re nothing to write home about, but they’re free and they offer just another option for students. Unfortunately, students can’t enroll themselves, but it was pretty quick and easy for me to set things up for them.
So, now, I think we’re set. Tomorrow I’ll be showing students how to use all nine sites where I’ve set-up virtual classrooms (my colleague, Katie Hull, will be doing the same with her students). They’ll certainly have plenty of choices and, of course, they can also use any of the tens of thousands of other activities listed on The Best Beginner, Intermediate & Advanced English Language Learner Sites list, not to mention just reading on their own. The virtual classrooms, though, just offer a little bit of accountability if they want it.