Empowered Editing Empowered Editing

What it is: is a great site for middle school and high school English teachers (and anyone else who edits student writing). This site was built by, and for, English teachers to help students learn how to fix the most common grammar and punctuation errors found in writing. Topics include: Pronoun disagreement, subject verb agreement, pronouns with compound word groups, commas and clauses, comma splices, direct address, usage of words, passive voice, literary present tense, iambic pentameter, and dramatic irony. It’s like having @michellek107 in your pocket! ūüôā¬† For each topic, there is a short video explanation of the problem and how to fix it.

How to use in your classroom: I would have so appreciated this site when I was a student! (Let’s be honest, I still appreciate this help.) I’ve always loved writing, but would often get feedback about comma splices or run on sentences. This feedback was less than helpful because while it identified a problem with my writing, it didn’t help me understand how to fix it. With, you can not only help your students see the problem in their writing, you can offer a quick link of immediate support. empowers students to take your edit notes and understand where the problem is and how to fix it. Rather than just writing “comma splice” on student writing, add¬† in the margin. Now those edit notes make sense, and give students the instruction to re-write with confidence that they understand where and what the error is.

Tips: Points to anyone who comments with links to the videos I should have consulted when writing this post!

Trapped! Punctuation: Punctuation Practice for October

What it is:¬†¬†I’ve long been a fan of the BBC’s Bitesize games and activities. ¬†They continue to grow and continue to impress me. ¬†I recently ran across the BBC Bitesize Trapped! Punctuation game. ¬†It couldn’t be a more perfect way to practice punctuation in October. ¬†It has all the elements that students will enjoy: a challenge in the form of a story, spooky characters and setting (but not too spooky), a built in extra game challenge to get from one level to the next. ¬†The game begins with a short animation explaining how students got trapped in a tower and how they will solve punctuation puzzles to get free. ¬†Students have to choose the correct punctuation to complete each puzzle. ¬†After they have chosen the punctuation, they have to use some physics/experimentation to get an apple into a hole to move on to the next level. ¬†This is FUN punctuation practice!

How to integrate Trapped! Punctuation¬†into the classroom: Trapped! Punctuation is a fun way for students to practice placement of punctuation in writing. This beats worksheet practice hands down. ¬†I like that the site puts students in the middle of a story and challenge. ¬†Students will have to consider why a punctuation mark is appropriate in each place. ¬†After students choose the punctuation to complete the puzzle, students have an additional challenge of getting an apple into a hole. ¬†There are some very basic physic principles introduced here. ¬†Students have to use the mouse to choose the angle and speed to shoot the apple to get to their goal. ¬†The puzzles get increasingly difficult and add the additional challenge of extra twists and turns to get the apple through. ¬†The second challenge asks students to choose the correct form of punctuation by “herding” crates with the mouse.

I like that these games are not your typical drill and kill. ¬†They aren’t simply choose the right answer and move on. ¬†There is an additional problem solving component built into each game. ¬†Can’t beat that!

Trapped Punctuation would be a great challenge for kids in a one to one computer setting. ¬†Don’t have that luxury? The games are quick enough to be used as a center activity in the one or two computer classroom. ¬†Set up Trapped! Punctuation as one of the centers in the classroom for students to visit as part of their rotation.

Tips: This practice is fun and challenging enough that students may want to continue practice at home.  Be sure to share this link with parents, they are always looking for good uses of home computer time!

Leave a comment and tell us how you are using  Trapped! Punctuation in your classroom.

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Maggie’s Earth Adventures

What it is: Maggie’s Earth Adventures is an incredible site for teachers and students.¬† First the amazing tools for you… Every teacher has wished for a lesson that takes little time for teacher preparation or explanation, can be used as a center activity, is a filler for students who finish their work early, serves as extra credit, is a ready made homework assignment, or can be an emergency plan for a substitute teacher.¬† Maggie’s Earth Adventures Teachers Lounge is the place to go!¬† Sign up for free weekly activity packets in subjects such as math, reading, science, and social studies.¬† Weekly activity packets are sent based on age levels (emergent reader, primary, and intermediate) and a different subject area is sent each week.¬† These are high quality teaching materials!In addition to the free weekly activities, Maggie’s Earth Adventures also features an excellent lesson plan resource, you can get an entire theme unit or a few lessons.¬† Some lessons even have free PowerPoint presentations to accompany the lesson.¬† The site is available in English or in Spanish making it perfect for the ESL classroom.¬†Maggie is not just for teachers, you will find outstanding interactive games for your students too!¬† Kids can watch cartoons that tie in directly with the lesson plans.¬† The cartoons are packed with teaching and are interactive.¬† In the postcard section students can choose a picture and then choose an activity to accompany the picture.¬† Students can create a story clock, news article, description web, or postcard.¬† In the games section students can choose from games to improve math, spelling, reading, geography skills, language skills, proofreading skills, and science.¬†Students can also download free books (these download as a printable pdf).
How to integrate Maggie’s Earth Adventures into the classroom: These high quality lessons and activities are ideal for having on hand for students who finish work early and are looking for extension activities.¬† They are also ideal for extra credit, homework practice, or emergency substitute plans.¬† Use the games as practice for important skills students are working on in language arts (spelling and punctuation) and math.¬† This is a great place for students to hone a newly learned skill.¬† The postcard maker (which actually makes much more than postcards) is a great place to send students for story starters and creative writing assignments.¬† This is one of those sites you will want bookmarked on your classroom computers!

Tips: Sign up to receive weekly activities and lessons from Maggie.  I know you sign up for a million things throughout the year, this is one that you will really use!

Leave a comment and share how you are using Maggie’s Earth Adventures in your classroom.

Interactive Word Tree


What it is: The Interactive Word Tree is perfect for use on your new Wiimote Whiteboard (or any other interactive whiteboard.) The Word Tree allows students or teachers to input up to 26 phonemes or words that become apples on the interactive tree.

How to integrate the Interactive Word Tree into your curriculum: The Interactive Word Tree is very flexible based on your classroom needs. Type in short vowel and long vowels and have the students take turns moving all the short vowel words to one side of the tree and all the long vowel words to the other side. Or, type in spelling words and have students move the apples into alphabetical order. Or, type in science vocabulary and students can categorize words on the tree based on similarities. You can also type in words that form compound words, prefixes and suffixes, etc. for students to practice matching apples. It would also be a wonderful tool for matching rhyming words, synonyms, antonyms, the possibilities are truly limitless since you can type in your own words. Another great feature: your words are automatically saved in the list even if you close the web browser so you don’t have to re-type in the words or vocabulary each day. You can add, delete, or change words at any time. Such a cool tool! As I am writing this I keep thinking of additional uses like preparing for a matching test, simple math problems with the problem on one apple and the answer on another.

Tips: You don’t have to use this great tool with the interactive whiteboard, it would also be a great center for the one to two computer classroom or even for use in the computer lab.

Please leave a comment and share how you are using Interactive Word Tree in your classroom.

Virtual Author Series

What it is: Simon and Schuster Publishing is offering a new unique experience to schools, a virtual author series. The electronic author visit brings bestselling and award-winning authors and makes them easily accessible to students and teachers. S&S creates a website specifically for each author visit that provides teachers with background information that will help prepare students for the author visit and provides interactive material that relates to the subject discussed in the author’s book. The program also includes a series of classroom activities and curriculum binders. The live web broadcast is the culmination of the virtual author experience. The 45 minute segment will include a presentation from the author, a reading from the book, and a question and answer session in which the author answers questions from the students.

How to integrate Virtual Author Series into the classroom: Bring popular author Andrew Clements (Frindle) into your classroom by signing up at the My Visit website You need to sign up your class ASAP if you would like to participate in the first in the Virtual Author Series which takes place on March 18th. This is an outstanding opportunity for classrooms, libraries, and schools. Bring reading to life for your students with a virtual author visit. If you, like me, are on spring break during the first author in the Virtual Author Series be sure to check back for future Virtual Author events.

Tips: Check back for future Virtual Authors. The next Virtual Author will be D.J. MacHale (PENDRAGON) on April 29, 2008. This is an awesome way to bridge literacy and technology!

Please leave a comment and tell us how the Virtual Author Series went in your class. Specifically, I want to hear all about it since I won’t be able to participate!


What it is: Bubblr! is a tool to create comic strips using photos from You can use others public images or images from your own account.

How to integrate Bubblr! into the classroom: Bubblr! would be a wonderful site to use after a class field trip. Have a parent (or yourself) take pictures during the field trip. Create a flickr ( account for your class. Upload the photos to the flickr account for use in the Bubblr! project. Students can create comic strips with the field trip pictures documenting the learning experience in a fun way. Bubblr! would also be fun to use for character education. Take picture of different scenarios (for example, a student taking a toy away from another student). Upload these pictures to Flickr and have students use Bubblr! to show what the different characters might be thinking and possible solutions to the problem. Bubblr! could also be used to help create a word wall…find pictures that represent words and add the word to the comic. Print out and create a Bubblr! word wall. Pictures can be found by keyword (tags) or by user. When students are finished with their comic strips they have the option of sending them via email, printing, or posting on a blog.

Tips: Since Flickr and Bubblr! are online applications, be sure that you have permission to post student pictures on either site.

Please leave a comment and share how you are using Bubblr in your classroom.

Seussville University

What it is: Seussville University website is created by Random House Children’s publishing in the spirit of making learning fun. Kids favorite Dr. Seuss characters serve as their guides to learning in the fun, interactive environment. Horton the Elephant hosts the reading area where kids learn basic reading concepts such as letter recognition, sounds of letters and rhyming words. Yertle the Turtole hosts the math area where kids learn to recognize numbers, number words, to count, and do simple addition. The Lorax hosts the science area where kids are introduced to animal categories, basic astronomy and ecology. Sam-I-Am hosts the reasoning area, here kids can compare size, number, patterns, and directions and learn opposites. These activities are best for kindergarten and first grade students.

How to integrate Seussville University into the classroom: Suessville University is a wonderful addition to any kindergarten or first grade classroom. It can be used for language, math, science, and reasoning reinforcement. Students will love the interactive games with familiar Dr. Seuss characters. This would make a fun center activity for student rotations during daily learning activities. There are also printable activities that coordinate with the website activities. Use Seussville while completing a Dr. Seuss unit. Encourage parents to use Seussville with their children at home as an extension activity.

Tips: Keep Seussville University in the bookmark bar for easy access for your students. They are bound to love this site!

Please leave a comment and share how you are using Seussville University in your

The Story Starter


What it is: The Story Starter provides 345,935,040 creative ideas for writers of all ages. The Story Starter randomly generates writing prompts that will help students start stories.

How to integrate The Story Starter into your classroom: Have one or two of your classroom computers set to this site during writing or journaling time. Students can click on the random story starter button and get the beginning of a story that they can add to. This is a wonderful creative tool for students who are learning to write fiction.

Tips: Bookmark this page for easy access during writing time.



Power Proofreading


What it is: Power Proofreading is a fun, interactive site by Houghton Mifflin that builds students proofreading skills. Students are introduced into a real-world situation where proofreading skills are needed. HME-TV’s power has gone out and they need students help to fix TV scripts, memos, and other writings at the station. Students proofread level appropriate material by selecting their grade level before the game begins.

How to integrate Power Proofreading into the classroom: Mix up the proofreading practice and use this site in place of standard DOL worksheets. Students will appreciate the interactivity and ease of use of this site.

Tips: Instead of bookmarking the home page of this site, bookmark the correct grade level.



I Know That Language Arts


What it is: I Know That Language Arts builds student’s language arts skills for kindergarten through sixth grade. Activities include word searches, word matching, word builders, scrambled stories, sentence puzzles, punctuation paintball, word tage, and more.

How to integrate I Know That Language Arts into your literacy curriculum: Instead of the standard DOL, set your students up for some Punctuation Paintball. Allow your students to use I Know That Language Arts for practice, as an extended learning activity, or as a center during literacy.

Tips: I Know That has some advertisements on its site, these can be removed by purchasing a subscription. I use the sites advertisements to teach my students about how to spot ads on a website and why some sites have ads. Check out the teachers guide for each game and activity for some great ideas.