Websites, Apps, and Digital Resources

Celebrate National Poetry Month in April!

April is National Poetry Month.  What better way to celebrate than appealing to the interests of middle and high school students by utilizing technology AND allowing for their freedom of expression?  High school students love student choice and embrace the opportunity for their voices to be heard!  

Fortunately for educators, there are a variety of websites, apps,
 and tech tools available that will allow encourage them to assume ownership while creating and designing poetry projects using technology, provide a digital platform for students to read high-interest poetry about modern teen issues, and websites where students can publish their own poetry, express their voices, state their opinions, and display their 
own creations!

Popular Poetry Websites

The mision of this site states that "Family Friend Poems provides a curated, safe haven to read and share touching poems and stories that help heal and offer catharsis through good times and bad. FFP strives to remain accessible to "real people, real life" while also providing a resource to students, teachers and all those who love popular contemporary poetry."  Why do I love this site?  This site is keepin' it real!  Even though some of the topics are difficult, the content is clean without seeming glossed over or artifical.

Teens can also submit poems for publishing.  The site is extensive and deals with real life issues that teens face - from the sorrow over a loved one's death, feelings depression, coping with serious illness, the impact of bullying to coping with betrayal.  This site also includes teaching resources.

Poetry Foundation has an extensive list of websites that both teachers and students can use to celebrate National Poetry Month!  You can find audio files of poems being read out loud, lesson plans, instructional resources, and even informational links to nationwide poetry celebrations and festivals. Feel free to skip to Poetry Foundation's Poetry for Teens as an additional resource for your students to use, select poems to read, and to analyze.
Includes a Poem a Day, Poem in Your Pocket activity, 30 Ways to Celebrate, lesson plans, Dear Poet Project, and more!

How to Read a Poem

Young adults who write, recite, (and in a sense, perform) their own poetry have been trending on social media for the past few years.  Tap into your own students' interests by giving them the opportunity to do the same.  Poetry Out Loud is a great starting point!  Poetry Out Loud's site includes a video series on how to recite a poem. This includes using your eyes, facial expression, physical presence, and voice. The site features yearly contest winners and videos for your students to enjoy.  

What about a site that features poetry both recited AND written by young adults?

Poetry Slam
Consider hosting your own classroom Poetry Slam!  Poetry Slam's website states its mission as the following:  "The mission of Poetry Slam, Inc. (PSi) is to promote the creation and performance of poetry that engages communities and provides a platform for voices to be heard beyond social, cultural, political, and economic barriers." Students will be inspired by Poetry Slam's performance poetry videos and can easily find videos of slam poetry specifically fearturing students and teens just like them.

Youth Speaks 
Youth Speaks is a poetry slam contest that specifically highlights teen participants. Interested in learning more about implementing a Poetry Slam with your students? The following digital resources may help you organize this dynamic opportunity for students!

Poetry Out Louds Lesson Plans
Includes materials for writing poems and lessons in analyzing a poem.

Favorite Poem Project
This website includes a For Teachers webpage that reiterates why the Favorite Poem Project was implemented:  "The Favorite Poem Project seeks to improve poetry's place in American classrooms by encouraging active, engaging poetry lessons that emphasize a direct, vocal connection to poems. The lessons presented here focus on appreciating poetry—reading, discussing, and enjoying poems—rather than on the writing of original poetry. Several of the lessons emphasize pleasure in the words and sounds of poems as place to begin—reminding students that poetry is art, and that it is satisfying and exciting to discover a poem that enthralls you and to say it in your own voice."

Education World's Poetry Slam Lesson Plan 
Education World provides guidelines and materials to turn this idea into a dynamic classroom activity and project!

Become a Slam Poet in 5 Steps

Digital Resources for Writing Poetry

Check out the following online resources and websites that provide writing prompts and poetry ideas for students.

Six Word Memoirs
Inspire students to write their own 6 word memoirs or poems.

Underlined (previously titled Figment)
Teen writers express themselves on this supportive social writing site.

Yarn's Poetry Page
YARN is an award-winning literary journal that publishes outstanding original short fiction, poetry, and essays for Young Adult readers, written by the writers you know and love, as well as fresh new voices.

For Struggling Writers

Do your students struggle with writing poetry?  Read, Write, and Think Interactives provide a great, structured platform for creating a poem.  

Go Global!  Publish Your Poetry Online

Let their voices be heard! The following sites provide a public platform for students to publish their own poetry:

Teen Ink: For over 28 years, Teen Ink has published art and literature created by teens. This site frequently includes writing contests for teens, also.
Power Poetry:  The largest online mobile communityof teen writers and and poets. Students can submit their own poetry.  The site includes poetry writing tips fr students.  Topics are modern and relevant to teens and tweens today.

All Poetry Publish your poems online.  Opt to enter poetry contests and earn "points" based on reader feedback.

Use Technology to Create and Design

Finally, to celebrate National Poetry Month, check out a few of these great websites and technology tools that your students can use to design a poetry-related project!

You may like the idea of poetry recitation and using one's voice to convey mood, tone, and theme of a poem but your students are hesitant to actually perform in a video recording.

Try using audio-recording tools instead! Students can select a poem he or she finds meaningful.  This could be a poem written by another teen, a favorite poem written by a famous poet, or (better yet) a poem he or she has authored.

Adobe Spark

One of my favorite websites to use for a combination of images 
and recording narration is Adobe Spark's video tool.  
Students can create videos by uploading images and recording their voice - image by image or frame by frame.  Adobe Spark video is user-friendly and does not require the use of any external microphone.  Students can master the art of digital storytelling through the use of imagery and text.  An additional option is to implement background music from Adobe Spark's music library in order to reflect the poem's tone and theme.

This can be utilized for students who may be camera shy and would prefer a "poetry out loud" opportunity that includes their voices reading original poems or poems they have chosen instead of performing in front of an audience of peers.

Pic-Lits Poetry

Another great free website that teachers can use for writing poetry is Pic-Lits. Pic-Lits describes their site's purpose is for inspired picture writing.  Using the website's gallery of images, students can select one of two methods for composing poetry.  

The drag-and-drop method allows users to choose a gallery image select words and words and phrases from a word bank.  Students can drag and drop the words onto the image in order to create a poem.

The second method is freestyle.  Freestyle allows students to type their poem directly onto a chosen image.  Students can drag their words onto any area - using word placement in order to reinforce the poem's meaning!  

Take a look at such an example:

During Teen Tech Week, I hosted a Pic-Lits poetry writing contest.  The image above is one example of the amazing Teen Tech Week submissions made by middle school students.   The student who created this Pic-Lits poem cleverly dragged his words into a curved shape that mimicked the winding staircase with the word "abyss" leading into the dark center point.   The student's word placement on this gallery image reinforces the personification of the metal steps as a pathway that will ultimately guide you into a dark ominous setting.  Teachers can find lesson plans on Pic-Lits sites and a how-to tutorial video link HERE.

The Power of Using Technology and Student Voice

Poetry Technology Projects Resource Bundle
There are many free options that will provide your students with the opportunity to utilize technology and to allow for their freedom of expression - whether it be through their own recitation and intepretation of another's words or an original poem that they created and crafted themselves!

If you would like additional ideas and materials for implementing technology in order to enhance your teaching of poetry, check out this Technology Projects Bundle designed for poetry units and currently available in my Teacher's Pay Teacher's store!

Creating an Animated Flipbook Using Flipsnack 

Recently I attended the South Carolina Educational Technology Conference and learned about Flipsnack - a tech tool and website that will provide students the opportunity to publish animated, interactive flipbooks for free! Using Flipsnack, teachers and students can sign up for an account in order to create and publish three digital books.  The free account limits each of the three books to 15 pages or less.

How does Flipsnack work?  Flipsnack uses HTML5 to convert pdf files to flash.  This website is compatible with all devices - from Chromebooks to iPads. There are multiple ways to create digital books using this site!  Users can create within the site by selecting one of Flipsnack's template options or upload a pdf and/or jpgs and use Flipsnack to publish their creations.  

In order to upload a pdf file, students would first create their digital books using Google Slides or Google Docs.  Both Google Docs and Google Slides provide an option to save or download the file as a pdf. Microsoft Office and Power Point can be used, also.  
Once the book is completed and saved as a pdf, students then upload the pdf file using Flipsnack's upload tool.  Once uploaded, students have additional editing options - including the option to add additional pages and images!

Prior to publishing their uploaded books in Flipsnack, students can customize their books by changing the screen background to a different color or to a texture (similar to changing the background of a slide).  They can also upload an image for the background.

Additional options to customize their digital books include highlighting any hyperlinks that appear on the book's pages, causing the pages to auto-flip or turn, and checking the option for the pages to make a flipping sound when turning.  You MUST check this flip sound option!

Want to see an example?  Check out this flipbook that I first created using Google Slides, then downloaded as a pdf, and uploaded  and published using Flipsnack!



This flipbook includes images, texts, and hyperlinks!  Hyperlinks are still active once you upload your flipbook into Flipsnack.  Students can link to video, audio files, and relevant websites while they create their Flipbooks in Google Docs or Google Slides!

Creating a Flipbook Using Flipsnack's Templates

For more advanced users, you also have the option to create your flipbook using one of Flipsnack's templates.  Students will need to save images outside of the Flipsnack website.

Template options range from a magazine template, a presentation template (widescreen and landscape), a large vertical flyer, and a booklet. After selecting a template, additional options are available to further customize the look of individual pages.  Using the starter templates, users can replace the template's text and images with their own.  They can use Flipsnack's ability to hyperlink text, also.  Users can also insert colored shapes.  Adding pages to the original template is also easy to do by selecting the Page menu.

Though I enjoyed using the option of creating a digital book from a Flipsnack template, it did present some initial challenges.  I had difficulty moving text boxes, for example.  After looking at the editing menu which appears on the right side of your screen, I realized that I needed to make sure that I was working under the first tabbed option (layers) versus the second tabbed menu option (pages).  Once I realized what was causing the difficulty in moving text around on a flipbook page, I clicked off the text box, selected the Layers menu, clicked back on and was then able to easily drag the text box and move the text's location across the page.

Flipsnack is similar to Canva in the advanced editing options that are available - changing the order of text, shapes, and images, recoloring the shapes, inserting hypertext or hyperlinks, customizing the text's color and font type, etc.

Under the pages menu, users can click and drag in order to reorder pages  and select the (+) icon to continue adding more that the template provides.

Here's an example of a flipbook I created on scientist Rosalind Franklin using the booklet template available at Flipsnack's website:


Amazing Scientists


Once students complete their flipbooks, they then select the topic area (Education), have an option of writing a description, and can share with their teachers via link. Free accounts do not have the option to publish privately or to download the flipbooks from the site.

Students will get a kick out of seeing their digital books online.  Using your mouse and hovering over the books pages will create a cool effect as they see the page corners curl.  The flip sound?  Might just be one of my favorite things about the publishing platform.  I'm just sayin'.  Ha!

Ideas for Using Flipsnack in the Classroom

Flipbooks can be used to display students' research results.  Both sample projects I've posted can be an assessment of  assigned research topics - such as 1970s reserch and research on an influential scientist. 

Students can be given guidelines for their flipbooks regarding a minimum number of pages, images, etc.  They can also be required to hyperlink a minimum of one related website or video that supports their topic or a site/video providing relevant supplementary information.

If using Flipsnack for research assessment, think of each page of the book in terms of required research subtopics.  Using the 1970s flipbook as an example, students could be required to create a page on influential political figures in the 1970s or for any chosen decade of research, a page noting the foreign relations of the United States during this period of history, a page featuring references from popular culture that existed during this time frame, etc.

Students can use flipsnack to create a digital book based on their reading of ANY text.  Substitute any report with a flipbook published using Flipsnack. By using different images (including symbolic omes), key details and a summary, important vocabulary terms, and related hyperlinks, students can demonstrate what they've learned.  

Flipbooks provide a unique platform for students to highlight key concepts within a text through the selection of different types of media - linked sound and audio files, links to video clips, representative images, and text. Analyzing text through the use of different media types is frequently listed as an acadermic content area standard for BOTH social studies and ELA.

Teachers can also use Flipsnack to create a class book by adding or creating pages featuring their students' work accumatively in one digital, interactive book.

See Additional Flipsnack Projects

Flipsnack is worth trying out!  There are sample flipbooks created by students in different grade levels that can viewed HERE and in ISTE's informative blog post with student examples HERE.

I also have a teaching resource with all the materials you need for implementation - including a sample Flipsnack based on O. Henry's "The Gift of the Magi" available in my Teachers Pay Teachers store Teen Tech University.  

You can purchase student project sheets with structured directions, how-to handouts, and a grading rubric at the link listed below: