Common Sense

TOP PICKS | 23 TOOLS

Best Common Core ELA Tools for Middle School

For middle schoolers, the English language arts Common Core State Standards zero in on more complex topics like text analysis, close reading, argumentative writing, and using supporting evidence across both ELA and non-ELA subjects like history, science, and technology. Here you'll find great Common Core-aligned tools for teaching these more advanced skills, as well as tools that support students' access to literature and informational texts across a range of text complexity. What's more, there are even a few tools here that specifically help students develop their speaking and listening skills. Many of these tools also offer great support for progress tracking, differentiation, and discussion.

Continue reading

Top Picks

RELATED

PrintPrint list

Literator

Useful app and website combo has potential to fuel guided reading

Bottom line: This is a pedagogically sound tool that, while still a work-in-progress, has real potential for teachers looking to upgrade their guided reading assessment and instruction.

ReadWriteThink

Excellent free resource for all things reading and writing

Bottom line: A language arts teacher's dream; lesson plans, professional development, and all-around quality support.

Literably

Simple and useful reading fluency assessment tool frees up teacher time

Bottom line: Some districts may find this to be a cost-effective, time-saving option for reading records.

Flocabulary

Schoolhouse Rock meets Tupac in this delightful hip-hop-based platform

Bottom line: Flocabulary has the goods: It's savvy enough to keep kids focused, and teachers will be tapping their toes to the unorthodox learning method.

LearnZillion

Quality Common Core-aligned lessons with great modeling for teachers

Bottom line: An innovative way to enhance lessons and tailor learning for individual needs.

ReadWorks

Differentiate reading instruction with high-quality texts and lessons

Bottom line: The quality and scope of texts, lesson plans, assessments, and supports on this platform can help facilitate targeted reading instruction in any classroom.

826 Digital

Popular after-school program shares its resources with teachers

Bottom line: This is a worth-bookmarking resource thanks to relatable writing lessons and motivating examples of actual student writing.

LightSail

Robust, full-featured reading app measures meaningful literacy gains

Bottom line: A powerful, well-designed literacy platform for developing engaged readers.

TeachingBooks.net

Dense site collects resources on authors and books in one place

Bottom line: With time and effort, this database of literary resources can extend learning experiences with books and their authors.

Grammaropolis.com

Catchy parts-of-speech instruction, from hook to assessment

Bottom line: The fun songs will stick, and so will kids' knowledge about the parts of speech.

Newsela

Absorbing daily news stories offer kids just-right learning content

Bottom line: Up-to-date, high-interest articles meet students right at their level: Use this robust tool to bolster students' nonfiction reading practice.

Ink Blott Underground

Strategic vocab game gets students digging into roots and affixes

Bottom line: This is a win for building vocabulary and word attack skills, but teachers need to provide context and additional instruction to make learning last.

Quandary

Slick ethics game teaches students to make tough decisions

Bottom line: This versatile game that can teach ethics, argumentation, and civics is light on interactivity but will come alive through discussion.

Community in Crisis

Game shows real-world uses for literacy and decision-making skills

Bottom line: A clever, real-world, and civic-minded context to learn and practice ELA skills.

Vital Signs

ELA game set in a medical clinic shows the value of literacy skills

Bottom line: Great ELA lessons that realistically integrate literacy skills into the simulated day-to-day of a medical clinic.

StudySync

Superb ELA resource has comprehensive coverage, tons of supports

Bottom line: StudySync offers a complete core literacy program for secondary schools, making it easy to recommend, especially for teachers new to digital platforms.

Writable

Smart writing platform places focus on feedback and revision

Bottom line: While there's some room for improvement, this tool is rock-solid pedagogically and can be the engine of your classroom's writing process.

Whooo's Reading

Innovative take on independent reading ditches multiple-choice quizzes

Bottom line: A convenient, well-intentioned tool for supporting a quality, interest-driven independent reading program, but make sure to tweak the auto-generated scores and questions.

Actively Learn

Empowering social ereader keeps kids actively, independently engaged

Bottom line: Far beyond the average ereader, this tool helps students connect and stay engaged while teachers easily measure progress.

ThinkCERCA

Well-structured lessons encourage deep analysis, thoughtful writing

Bottom line: This is a ready-to-go, research-backed resource that focuses intently on CCSS-aligned and AP-level critical reading and writing skills.

CommonLit

Feature-rich literacy resource offers superb support for readers

Bottom line: Access a hefty collection of reliable, ready-to-print, leveled passages that allow you to tailor lessons, assign online reading, and track progress.

Mars Gen One: Argubot Academy

Hone powerful persuasive skills on a red-planet adventure

Bottom line: A visually appealing, pedagogically sound exploration of what makes a valid argument.

Listenwise

Bring real-world stories from public radio into the classroom

Bottom line: A fantastic resource that brings both historical and current event public radio stories into the classroom.

Get tips for using these tools in the classroom

See related resources