Take a look inside 5 images
Words Without Borders Campus
Pros: Each work of literature is accompanied by a large and varied list of extension materials and ideas.
Cons: The site's organization and search options might not align to teachers' needs, and the text-heavy design can be hard to sift through.
Bottom Line: If you can put in the time to find what works for you, these contemporary global voices can help build cultural understanding.
How Can I Teach with This Tool?
Teachers will find contemporary literature from around the world on Words Without Borders Classroom. There are short stories, poems, essays, and even graphic novels. Teachers can choose to print the content, or students 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 teachers should be aware that some works contain mature topics, but it's easy to limit student access by offering printed materials (or PDF versions) instead of directing students to the website. Teachers 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 teacher-focused search and sort options would boost its value. That said, it's a great free resource for finding more varied voices.