Saturday, 24 September 2011

Poetry sites that will get words flowing!

Submitted by Fiona Beal
One of the things I love doing with a class is writing poetry. The students come up with the most interesting ideas and words. Playing with words always gives me a thrill. There are so many free interactive sites available that can make the teacher’s task even easier, and the learners experience more memorable.   

1. ETTC (Educational Technology Training Centre) – Instant Poetry Forms

This is a really great poetry site but it can be used for so many other subjects as well. If you scroll down on the left you can preview some of the templates with samples. Students fill in the blanks with their own content and click “Create”.


For example, here is one of their poem outlines:

ETTC sample

2. Giggle Poetry
Giggle poetry is an award-winning poetry website with many different features, one of which allows students to fill in the missing words at the end of lines of poetry.This site is great for the younger students.


3. Piclits
I have referred to this site before in my post on 10 creative writing sites, but I love using it for poetry writing as well. It is also a great way to teach the different parts of speech and how they fit into the poem. The students start off by choosing a picture as a background that will suit the mood of the poem.
piclits (2)

4. Shape poems

In this online tool, primary school students can select shapes from four different themes namely nature, school, sports, and celebrations. Within these themes, 19 different shapes are included. What I like about Read Write Web’s poetry sites is they include a lot of lesson ideas.

shape poems

5. Acrostic poems

An acrostic poem uses the letters in a word to begin each line of the poem. All lines of the poem relate to or describe the main topic word.  In this interactive Read Write Web site you can choose your words.



6. Write a song-poem from PBS

This will appeal to the older students. They can write a poem by typing in the words, and then the interactive part of the programme will choose music for it.

web karaoke

7. Poetry from pictures

What I like about this site is that you can type in a keyword and a whole lot of inspirational clips come up. Choose one as an inspiration to write a poem.


8. Poetry idea engine

This site takes you through four types of poetry in an engaging way. Cinquain, haiku, limerick and free verse. I find that the students love it because it teaches you about the type of poem in a fun noisy machine type of manner, and then helps you make your own.

poetry engine
poetry flash

9. Tag galaxy

This is quite an unusual but nevertheless inspiring application. First you choose your topic. e.g. books. A number of words appear on the page.  Then you choose your photos. This is certainly something different that a teacher can develop.



10. A poetry wiki

Here is a poetry wiki with an abundant supply of ideas.

The bunnies.

Thursday, 22 September 2011

10 Story Starter sites to get your students writing

Submitted by Fiona Beal
Have you ever wondered how to get the reluctant writers in your class enthusiastic about writing? Nowadays with all the wonderful free applications available on the web a teacher doesn’t have to stress about this any more. (Please note that there is a link to a follow up post with more story starter sites under point 11 below.)

1. Wallwisher

This is an idea I tried last year. Open a wallwisher page (  and ask the class to think of a good start to story. There are always those students who rise to the occasion and add their bit. Of course there are those who just sit and think during the whole exercise. Then, when everyone has added their ideas, let everyone choose one of the ideas and start writing!  This usually works well.


2. The Story Starter Junior (

This site provides 729 story starters for kids and won an award in 2008. Every time you click on the story starter button a new idea appears.


3. The Story Starter (

Here is it’s companion site which is for older students and adults. This one has over a milllion story starters.

4. Creative Writing prompts (

This is another site that has won an award. All you do is point to one of the 346 numbers and a box appears with a prompt.


5. The Storyboard Generator (

This site allows you to generate a play script. You choose your avator and a script idea, and then…who knows! All sorts of possibilities emerge. Try it and see.

storyboard generator

6.  Fun Fairytale generator  (

This is a fun fairy-tale generator site that will capture the imagine of the daring younger learners.


7. A character generator (

This site supports Key Stage 1. You choose the type of clothes, hair and skin colour that you want your character to have.  Then you type on the notepad a sentence about your character. You can then click on the Print button at the top of the screen and your character and the sentence will be printed. The idea is to show it to the teacher and talk about who you have created.


8. Storyplant from the BBC

This will really appeal to the younger learner. A story guide takes one on a fascinating journey and helps the student to develop their story.



9.  Boomwriters (

This seems to be a site that you join – free to schools – and it takes you on a writing journey. It could be worth investigating!


10. Inspiring ideas (

Just to finish off this looks worth exploring – 34 more ideas in a Google doc.
Click on the picture to be taken to the actual Google doc so that you can view all 34 ideas.

11. Even more...

This post is continued with another group of story starter sites. Visit More story starter sites to inspire your students to write

What about joining up with a project on Children’s Rights?

We have all heard of the UNICEF Children's Rights. This is such a topical subject and it is worth getting your class to learn more about children's rights around the world. This is one of the IEARN projects that Omashani Naidoo, the Operations Manager at SchoolNet South Africa has brought to my attention.
Omashani says, "My friend Annie Flore is a coordinator of this project. This would really be a wonderful opportunity for SA learners to give their point of view and let other countries learn first-hand about our vast experiences in SA."
  • Facilitator(s): annie_flore_vergne_morgand
  • Country: France
  • Languages: English
  • Student Age Level: 12-14, 15-18
  • Dates: September 2011 to April 2012
  • Summary: Students will help to identify what they believe are the key rights of children while also exploring the rights defined in the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
  • Here is a picture of the project details. Click on the picture to be taken to its location.
project - children's rights

Monday, 19 September 2011

Ten creative writing sites you don’t want to miss

Written by Fiona Beal
These days there are many wonderful,  free Web 2.0 interactive creative writing applications to use with your learners. What I like about these applications is the fact that even the reluctant writers get involved quite easily. The use of these Web 2 tools also open the door to many advantages. For example, stories can be shared with parents instead of being lost in a school classwork book or on a piece of paper.  They can also be shared with classes around the world if they are embedded on a blog or wiki. The writing process which is so important in writing can easily be incorporated into the lessons.

1. Write circle stories using Etherpad (

A circle story is a great way to use the writing process (write first draft – edit - write final draft) in class and it helps the reluctant writer or the writer lacking in confidence to feel part of the process.  A great application to use is Etherpad. Notice that the web address has an ‘i’ before etherpad.



When I do circle stories in my computer class I divide the class into groups of four with each person in the group starting their own story. You’ll notice that ‘pad’ in Etherpad is given a code. Before I start I create all the pad and write down these codes so that the students have easy access.


Please note that there are other Web 2.0 applications similar to Etherpad, such as Primary Pad.


2. Story Jumper


I love using Story Jumper in class because it enables you as a teacher to add your whole class and allocate them passwords and easy access. The application also provides a great selection of backgrounds, characters, props, text boxes and fonts for the students to choose from.



The final story is presented in a flip flap e-book format.

3. Storybird

This application has to be one of my favourites! Like Storyjumper it offers an on-line story book for students to create from scratch.  I found that even the students who are reluctant writer enjoy this programme because you start with the art. Once again you can create easy access for a whole class. The starting point is to choose a beautiful piece of art. Once that is done another batch of related art appears. Consequently the students are really helped to chose their story line from all the inspirational art. 

No Ordinary Day on Storybird

All of my crazy, weird ,stupid, at times annoying , loud and caring friends by ellvis7 on Storybird
The new kid on Storybird
The Pirate, Ravenue. on Storybird
4. Artisan’s picture books

This is a free online writing programme which is great for the younger learners.


The themes are fairly limited but the younger learner love wild animals so this is no deterrent. The end result is a e-book. The application allows you to send an email link to whoever you would like to read your book.

5. Kerpoof Studio


This a kid-friendly, intuitive application where students can create fairy tales, realistic fiction etc. using illustrations  and writing for characters, setting, and plot. I haven’t yet used this application but I would love to try it out.


The books can be printed, too.

Sites using photos in a fun way

6. Photofunia

7. Picjoke


I have discovered that the older students love using sites that can include a photo of themselves. In these photo fun sites they can choose pictures that can tell a story, and then write about the picture.

8. Piclits


What I like about this site is the way it provides a drag-n-drop feature which lists words that can be used. This helps the reluctant writers a great deal.The enthusiastic writers can choose the freestyle section. A selection of photos are provided for the background.  I usually ask the students to create poems when using


9. Young novelists’s workbook


If you are wanting your students to create a novel this site offers potential. It has workbooks that one can download for the students to use.  The opening blurb says, “Inside each workbook, you'll find worksheets and activities that will spark your imagination and guide you through your novelling…”

10. Write a script with Script Frenzy’s young writer’s programme:


This site provides you with free workbooks for the students to use (


With all these lovely sites available to educators and students great writing can be accomplished even when budgets are very tight.