There are so many fantastic resources available to teachers that support literacy instruction. Oftentimes, many of these resources come at a hefty subscription rate, however, in an effort to support the COVID-19 distance learning challenge, most edtech resource companies are offering their products/services for free. This is an incredible opportunity for teachers to identify those tools that best support their students, their instruction, and their learning objectives as we continue to teach in a distance learning environment.
When we look deeply at literacy instruction, there are several aspects that we must consider. First and foremost, not every child is reading at the same level. Whether they are all in the same first grade class or the same seventh grade class, each individual child reads at a different pace, with different strengths and weaknesses, and differing interests and engagement levels. This makes a “reading assignment” a challenging task during distance learning. We must work to identify ways to differentiate the offerings for students so that they are working with content that best fits them as a learner. We also must consider that some of our students are learning in homes where there may be little to no adult support in literacy learning tasks. In many of our students’ homes there may be parents/guardians who are busy tending to many other tasks, perhaps have their own struggles when it comes to reading, and/or are challenged by the reading passages not being in their own native language. All of these challenges and more make it crucial for educators to not only assign the best fit passages for students but to also leverage the best tools to suit those learners’ environments.
The Ready Learner One team is proud to offer you the following focused compilation of resources to assist you with identifying the best literacy tools that can be used to support your learners, not only during distance learning but also once we are able to return to the classrooms.
Stay tuned for tomorrow’s post in the Ready Virtual Learner One Series focusing on Mathematics & Digital Tools. Wishing you good health!
Scholastic – By providing the equivalent of three hours of learning opportunities per day, including projects based on articles and stories, virtual field trips, reading and geography challenges, and more, Scholastic has curated a daily calendar of learning that is tiered by grade levels servicing learners in grades PreK-9th. With high interest topics, educator support resources, and parent guides, this is an incredibly robust tool that can be used with just a few clicks of the mouse.
Newsela – Using real world text from a variety of perspectives, this learning standards aligned resource offers text that supports all different content areas. With lesson plans designed for implementation, accompanying comprehension activities, and differentiation tools built into the text, Newsela is offering their entire K-12 platform for free through the end of the school year.
Learning A to Z – Offering their Raz- Kids and the Headsprout platforms for free through the end of the school year, Learning A to Z offers a strong early literacy program for students. The Raz-Kids platform offers differentiated ebooks at 29 different reading levels for students PreK-6th grade. With build in assessments and the ability for students to record themselves reading, this is a great tool for teachers to track their students’ progress in reading, Both browser and app based, it is easily navigable for students and teachers alike.
Bookflix – This Scholastic based resource connects fiction with nonfiction reading. It is designed to teach students to go from “learning to read to reading to learn”. With offerings in both English and Spanish, this is a great resource to share with your Spanish speaking families so that they can enjoy the stories together.
Readworks – Offering reading passages on all different topics covering a wide variety of content areas, Readworks offers a robust searchable library. Including fiction and non-fiction reading for students in K-12th grade, each passage is leveled so that you can provide targeted and appropriate material for your students. With built-in comprehension questions that students answer directly in the platform, it submits directly to you as the educator to assess your students’ performance. With several differentiation tools, such as step reads, audio versions, and both ELL and special education modifications built directly into the student experience, Readworks can help you to support all of your learners during distance learning. From a student user side, it is easy to see and understand the assignments and due dates as directed by the teacher. This tool is a win for both teachers and students alike.
Epic! – With over 40,000 titles, Epic offers best selling books across PreK-6th grade reading levels. Audio books, nonfiction, fiction, Spanish, and more, there is something for everyone in the epically vast Epic library. With built in videos and quizzes, this online collection is sure to keep readers engaged. Offered free to both parents and educators during the COVID-19 crisis, Epic offers some bestselling titles to draw in even the most reluctant readers.
Author Visit Calendar- Virtual Author Visit – As a huge fan of virtual field trips, this is by far one of my favorite resources. This is a carefully curated (and regularly updated) weekly calendar of free Kid Lit Live Virtual Author/Illustrator Visits and Read Alouds. It is amazing to see how many children’s authors and illustrators are leveraging social media to reach learners of all ages who are quarantined and/or learning from home to keep them engaged in the art of storytelling. Kudos to each and every author and/or illustrator who is on this list and is going above and beyond for kids during this time of crisis. Additionally, if you scroll down past the weekly calendar, there are a tremendous number of additional resources to support literacy instruction, including podcasts, shared resources and more. A special thanks to A. Keene (Twitter: @akeenelibrarian Instagram: @akeenelibrarian) who compiled this amazing resource.
About the author: Christine Lion-Bailey is the Chief Strategy Officer for Ready Learner One LLC and a Director of Technology & Innovation in New Jersey. She is also is the coauthor of Reality Bytes: Innovative Learning Using Augmented and Virtual Reality. Christine is an advocate for innovative thought and practices in learning, both through instruction and leadership, across K-12, higher ed, and corporate spaces. Follow Christine on Twitter at @clionbailey.