25 Tech Tools for English Teachers

These edtech tools (apps and sites), grouped by category but not ranked, may assist in the teaching and assessing of reading and writing in the ELA courses of secondary education teachers. Most are free. Those which require payment for "premium" versions are accompanied by a dollar sign ($). Click each name to learn more.

  1. I Write Like

  2. Hemingwayapp

  3. Draftback

  4. Expresso

  5. Grammarly ($)

  6. SAS Writing Adviser

  7. new MLA Style

  8. The Graide Network ($)

  9. NoRedInk ($)

  10. ProLogo English Verb Flowchart

  11. CommonLit

  12. Books That Grow ($)

  13. Safari Reader

  14. Librivox

  15. Genius

  16. Goodreads

  17. Call Me Ishmael

  18. Podcasts (Serial, Revisionist History)

  19. TED Ed

  20. Lynda ($)

  21. PollEv

  22. TodaysMeet

  23. Kahoot!

  24. Quizziz

  25. Quizlet Live

Using Padlet to Collect and Showcase Students' Creative Writing (parody poems of "This is Just to Say" by William Carlos Williams in conjunction with This American Life)

During a grueling poetry research project, students need occasional breaks, so I give them poetry "snacks."  Early in the project I hook students on Def Poetry Jam with Gemini's "Poetic Bloodline" and Steve Coleman's "I Wanna Hear a Poem." We watch Billy Collins recite "Litany" before viewing a 3-year-old boy from Tucson do the same.  We talk about National Poem-in-your-Pocket Day.  I encourage them to savor language as Stephen Fry suggests even while we scrutinize, analyze, perform scansion, count syllables, etc.

Period 6 students publish their "This is Just to Say" parody poems on a Padlet. This is a quick and easy way to share work, especially short written work,  in a form a bit more visually interesting than Google Docs.

One of my favorite micro-lessons in poetry begins with the "Mistakes Were Made" episode of This American Life and ends with emulation/parody poems written in the style of "This is Just to Say" by William Carlos Williams.  The episode highlights the fact that the poem has rich anecdotal weight, a clear structure, and a satisfying #sorrynotsorry finish.

The episode features a dozen or so parody or spoof emulations of the original Williams poem.  I point out to students the basic structure of the poem.

Stanza 1: The Sin -- The transgression, malfeasance, act, wronging

Stanza 2: The Deepening -- The context that makes the transgression even worse than first suspected

Stanza 3: The False Apology -- The #sorrynotsorry approach to acknowledging the sin but often through rationalization or downplaying

 

After the segment (Act II, "You're Willing to Sacrifice Our Love" starts at 49:43), I ask students to write one or two or three of these false apology paraody poems. Since the examples they hear are often darkly humorous, ironic, or otherwise heavy, many of the student pieces match.

WARNING: Some of the poems by NPR correspondents engage adult themes and mature humor and may not be suitable for all student audiences.

After 5-8 minutes, I ask students to post one of their poems to a Padlet from a link in the daily plan.  Now, they can see the poems of their peers, displayed like sticky notes, much in the same way William Carlos Williams purportedly left his "This is Just to Say" note for his wife in the kitchen.  In Padlet, students can paste in their poem text or insert an image. Some students screenshot their work and modify it to look like a kitchen counter note.

As poems surface on the Padlet wall, students read each other's work and nominate the poems that should be read aloud. A benefit of Padlet over Google Docs in this case use is the form factor of the adjustable entries. Students can resize the boxes, and this encourages experiments in line breaks to increase readability. Teachers can move notes and prioritize certain poems as if rearranging stickies on a bulletin board.

I can see many applications for Padlet. Since it supports image upload, students could quickly share in bulletin board style art they made, photos they took, memes they generated, etc.  The ability to rate/score comment on another student's work would improve the app.

Period 1 students publish their "This is Just to Say" parody poems on a Padlet. This is a quick and easy way to share work, especially short written work,  in a form a bit more visually interesting than Google Docs.