Product Review of Words Without Borders Campus
Educators will find contemporary literature from around the world on Words Without Borders Classroom. There are short stories, poems, essays, and even graphic novels. Educators can choose to print the content, or learners can read it on the website without a password. Thoughtfully curated lesson plans, mostly aligned with 11th and 12th grade standards, connect these contemporary writings with popular traditional writings found in American literature books. For example, the website suggests pairing Japanese poet Nomura Kiwao’s poem “Riverwilt” with works by American poet e.e. cummings. Every piece is accompanied by lots of supplemental materials, including pronunciation guides, supplemental videos, author biographies, discussion questions, and recommendations for additional reading. Some of the works are offered in their original language in addition to English.
Popular themes include leaving home, war, parents, memories, and transformation. Some of the literature and lesson ideas may be appropriate for middle grades, but most of the learning materials are directed toward grades 10-12. Middle grade educators should be aware that some works contain mature topics, but it’s easy to limit learner access by offering printed materials (or PDF versions) instead of directing learners to the website. Educators need to create a free account to access the teaching ideas and lessons. Be prepared to put in some time to find the right pieces and lessons and then sort through the materials in the dense format. A layout with more breathing room and educator-focused search and sort options would boost its value. That said, it’s a great free resource for finding more varied voices.
Overall User Consensus About the App
Learners will connect to universal themes and experiences while learning about unfamiliar cultures. The graphic fiction and nonfiction works will be popular.
Curriculum and Instruction
It’s a thoughtfully curated collection of writings with incredibly detailed and comprehensive lesson materials.
There are a ton of resource materials and instructional suggestions, but the organization of the site is a bit muddled. Clearer options around Lexile level, grade level, or learning outcomes would be helpful.