I’ve written a number of posts over the years Awesome Stories, the excellent site for free accessible student content on many topics.
Now, for an annual fee of $59, teachers can create virtual classrooms using the site and monitor student progress. That’s nice, though a feature that goes along with that is the one I particularly like – the ability for students (and teachers) to create their own “stories” that can then become part of the site’s content. You can’t beat having an authentic audience for student motivation!
The process to create those stories seems workable for students, though it would be nicer if it was a little more simple – I get wary of anything that requires a ten minute instruction video. But, as I said, it seems like students could figure it out.
Of course, reading the site’s content remains free to everybody.
Owl Eyes lets teachers easily (and at no charge) create virtual classrooms for students to be able to read books from the site’s library. Students can annotate the text, and teachers can create quizzes for their students.
The texts appear to be mainly ones that out-of-copyright, so the site could be particularly helpful to educators teaching the “classics.” However, there are also books that some of my students in the past have chose to read for pleasure reading, like Sherlock Holmes mysteries and books by Jack London.
Epic! lets educators create a free virtual classroom with up to thirty students. They can then access any of the 15,000 eBooks that are available on the app (via PC, laptop, tablet or phone) and teachers can monitor what is being read and by whom.
Families have to pay if they want access to the site at home, though it’s unclear to me how Epic! can tell where students are when they are reading. Perhaps it’s based on the time of day it’s being used?
Regardless, it’s another good resource that students and teachers can use for either independent or classwide reading.
It’s super simple — every week students just have to leave a comment saying what they found most interesting in The Times that week and why. Parents can encourage their kids to participate and teachers could do something like what I do – arrange for students to receive extra credit in their following year’s class.