FREE Resources: Eleven Language Arts Sites

More than 30 Federal agencies formed a working group in 1997 to make hundreds of federally supported teaching and learning resources easier to find. The result of that work is the FREE web site. FREE stands for Federal Resources for Educational Excellence. The web sites listed below are excerpted with permission from the FREE web site. This month, we highlight 11 web sites for language arts; in future months, we will feature other subject areas.


America Dreams—Lesson, Learning Page
This site from the Library of Congress investigates what the American Dream has meant over the years to poets, politicians, comedians, musicians, photographers, lawyers, reporters, and others. Students may contribute to the Student Gallery and post their dreams on a Wall of Dreams.

American Life Histories: Manuscripts from the Federal Writers' Project, 1936-1940
This Library of Congress American Memory section presents 2,900 life histories from 300 writers from 24 states. These histories describe individuals' families, incomes, occupations, political views, religions, diets, and observations.)


Do You Speak American?
This companion website for a film takes us cross-country to examine the dynamic state of American English and asks: Why do Maine lobstermen and Texas cowboys speak English so differently? How many varieties of American English are there? Is TV making us all sound the same? Topics include 100 common mispronunciations, how language is changing, local color in American literature, and regional writers. (MacNeil/Lehrer Productions, supported by National Endowment for the Humanities)

Narrative vs. Expository Texts
This Peace Corp site is written for students with limited English language skills, and uses the vignettes from Peace Corps Volunteers to compare and contrast expository and narrative texts. Students then go on to write essays of both types.


1900 America: Historical Voices, Poetic Visions—Lesson, Learning Page
This is a lesson plan in which students create their own multi-media epic poems about the year 1900. Walt Whitman’s "Song of Myself" and Hart Crane’s "The Bridge" serve as artistic models for students, who also draw on life histories, sound recordings, and other primary resources. (Library of Congress)

Artifact Road Show—Lesson, Learning Page
This outlines a staff development workshop and offers lessons designed to help students put historical events in context and see them as a part of a larger story. Use of primary resources is the focus—where to find them, what they are, how to examine them, and how to "construct the context" to tell the whole story. (Library of Congress)


Between the Lions is based on the PBS children's TV series, and presents a new story each week with related interactive games and activities for kids 4-7. It also recommends books for each episode and offers more than 300 tips and resources for helping kids learn to read. (WGBH, supported by Department of Education)A Child Becomes a Reader tells what parents can do to help children (ages 0-4 and 5-8) become readers. It includes suggestions about what to look for in day care centers and preschools, and a summary of scientific research on how children learn to read and write. (National Institute for Literacy, supported by Multiple Agencies)


America at the Centennial—Lesson, Learning Page
This site uses images and texts from the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition of 1876 to help students learn what the Exposition said about America at that time. Students work as historians using primary sources to create museum exhibits on issues of the Centennial Era. (Library of Congress)


Center for the Improvement of Early Reading Achievement (CIERA)
This site generates and disseminates theoretical, empirical, and practical solutions to persistent problems in the learning and teaching of beginning reading. (University of Michigan School of Education, supported by Department of Education)

This offers literacy training activities for tutors and mentors, a literacy assessment profile, and information for volunteer programs that help children in primary grades improve their reading. Its winter 2002 newsletter, "The Tutor," looks at the five skills identified by the National Reading Panel as key to literacy development during kindergarten to third grade. (Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory, supported by Department of Education)