Sunday, June 28, 2009

25 Free Summer Reading and Writing Resources for Teachers

If you're looking for materials for summer school courses or if you just want to get a head start on next year's lessons, the Internet is a great place to begin. Sites like the Online Books Page can provide you with reading materials and help you choose reading lists. Other, such as SparkNotes and Pink Monkey, can help you develop a greater understanding of the books you are about to teach. Whatever you are looking for, you are sure to find at least one useful site in this list of reading and writing resources for teachers.

Free Books

The Online Books Page - This site is one of the best places to find free unabridged books online. There are currently more than 35,000 listings, with new books being added regularly.

Project Gutenberg - Project Gutenberg was the first site to offer free e-books and is still one of the best spots to get free unabridged books online. The site has nearly 30,000 books in its collection and links to thousands of other books that can be read or downloaded for free.

Bibliomania - Thousands of free books can be found at Bibliomania. The site also offers free study guides to the most read books and other helpful resources for teachers.

The Literature Network - In addition to an excellent database of free electronic books, the Literature Network also provides forums and quotations for students and teachers.

Librivox - Unlike the other free book sites on this list, Librivox focuses on audio books. The site's volunteers have recorded thousands of the best-loved books in the public domain.

Literature Summaries and Study Guides

Schmoop - Schmoop is a relatively new site dedicated to making reading, writing, and history fun for both teachers and students. The site offers a wide range of study guides and teacher resources as well as tips on using Schmoop in the classroom.

Litsum - LitSum is one of the best places online to get free study guides and literature summaries. The site offers more guides than anyone else and also provides topics for discussion, character analysis, and other helpful teaching resources.

CyberGuides - CyberGuides are standards-based literature study guides that are delivered as web-based instruction. Each guide has a student and teacher edition. CyberGuides are available for k thru 12 teachers.

Pink Monkey - This site offers a wide range of student friendly book summaries, chapter notes, and study guides that can be viewed for free online or printed for a small fee.

SparkNotes - SparkNotes have always been among the most popular literature study guides. You can find thousands of free SparkNotes guides online. Other resources include a searchable grammar guide and SparkCharts for teachers.

Educational Materials, Lesson Plans, and Classroom Activities

Learn Out Loud - Learn Out Loud is the Internet's largest directory of free learning resources. The site focuses more on audio and video, but lists some free text-based resources as well.

ReadWriteThink - A partnership between the International Reading Association (IRA), the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE), and the Verizon Foundation, the ReadWriteThink site is an excellent source of literature lesson plans for grades k thru 12.

LitPlans - This site offers literature lesson plans and other helpful materials. Most of the lesson plans are geared for middle school and high school teachers, but elementary and college-level teachers may also find useful resources on the LitPlans site.

Harcourt - This trade publisher provides teachers with free books, classroom activities, lesson plans, and other materials. Most of Harcourt's free materials are designed for elementary school students.

Scholastic - Scholastic offers a summer reading challenge, lesson plans, story starters, and many other useful materials. The Scholastic site also features a "Back-to-School Planning" section that's perfect for teachers who are working on next year's reading and language arts lessons.

Writing Prompts and Instruction

The Teacher's Corner - The Teacher's Corner has an excellent selection of daily writing prompts for every month of the year. Prompts can be printed or displayed on an LCD projector.

WritingFix - This site offers interactive writing prompts, lesson plans, and resources for the writing classroom. Other special features include a daily prompt generator, columns and advice from teachers, and student samples by grade level.

The Teaching Portal - The Teaching Portal is a Lightning Bug resource specifically designed for teachers of all levels. The site offers writing prompts, advice, and useful programs to help educators teach writing in the classroom.

MIT OCW - The Massachusetts Institute of Technology offers several free online writing courses at the college level that would be of interest to teachers. Most of the courses include lecture notes, reading lists, writing assignments, and other learning materials.

Purdue Online Writing Lab - Purdue University's Online Writing Lab (OWL) offers more than 200 free resources for writers and people who teach writing. The site also provides style guides and special help for ESL teachers.

Magazines, Blogs, and Other Reading Materials

Yes - Teachers can get a free, one-year subscription to Yes! Magazine when they visit the Yes site. This ad-free quarterly magazine publishes articles about education, the economy, communities, art, and other topics.

Teacher Lingo - This online community for teachers is a great place to start your own blog or read blogs written by other teachers.

TeacherVision - This site lists a selection of popular teacher blogs with frequent updates.

Books 4 Teachers - Known as the site "where teachers come to read," Books 4 Teachers is a good place to find book recommendations, lesson plans, and other useful resources.

The Free Library - The Free Library offers unabridged literary works from classic authors. The site also features free articles and scholarly papers--more than five million entries in all.

Guest post from Karen Schweitzer who writes about online colleges for