Common Sense

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Middle School Reading Apps and Websites

There's no question middle school can be a big hurdle for readers; students' skills can stagnate and never recover. Thankfully, there are some terrific tech tools out there to help teachers support students' growth. From phonemic awareness to phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension, the skills covered in this collection mean you're bound to find the right tool to support your students' needs. You'll find everything from diagnostic tools to interactive e-readers, close-reading instruction, and even some online reading communities to help kids get engaged around high-interest topics.

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Literator

Handy app helps structure and track reading conferences

Bottom line: Once teachers are all set up and organized, this can be a useful tool for conferencing and tracking student progress.

Bookshare

Unique digital library gives access to those with print disabilities

Bottom line: This fantastic digital library service provides a powerful sense of independence for students with print-related disabilities.

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.

Read With Me Fluency

Make assessing, tracking students' reading fluency a breeze

Bottom line: Easy-to-use paperless reading records work great but could use a few updates.

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.

ReadTheory

Useful if not exciting adaptive tool for assessing reading ability

Bottom line: It's very utilitarian, but what it does it does well: getting students test-ready by effectively assessing and tracking reading ability.

Smithsonian: TweenTribune

News site features human interest articles with useful classroom tools

Bottom line: This is a helpful and well-designed supplemental resource for reading development, but not necessarily a go-to news site.

Common Sense Selection

LightSail

Powerful, flexible reading tool measures meaningful literacy gains

Bottom line: A powerful literacy platform for developing and empowering readers, with useful customization features for both teachers and students.

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.

Common Sense Selection

Newsela

Great stories, just-right leveled reading; now mostly by subscription

Bottom line: Up-to-date, high-interest articles will meet students right at their level, and help teachers bolster students' nonfiction reading skills.

Harry Potter Reading Club

The fun and fantasy of Harry's world plus literary discussion

Bottom line: With activities, discussion questions, and lots of free access to the books, this site is a great place for Harry Potter fans new and old.

Accelerated Reader 360

Boundless, flexible tools promote instructional, independent reading

Bottom line: A stellar literacy platform for assessing student reading levels and promoting further reading.

Common Sense Selection

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.

Curriculet

Elegant, customizable e-reader empowers close reading, boosts skills

Bottom line: An excellent tool for in-text assessment. Maximize the platform's usefulness by uploading your own texts and setting up CCSS-aligned checkpoints.

Rewordify

Text-leveling tool gives every student access to complex readings

Bottom line: This utilitarian differentiation tool is useful enough to be in every teacher's toolbox.

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.

Readorium

Science and reading come together in aging but effective platform

Bottom line: There's not much out there that focuses specifically on reading science texts, so if your students can get past the dated design, this could be a handy tool to turn to.

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.

BeeLine Reader

A surprisingly simple tool to improve reading

Bottom line: This is a unique, easy-to-implement reading fluency and comprehension aid that's gaining some evidence of effectiveness.

Actively Learn

Empowering reader keeps kids actively, independently engaged

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

iTooch 6th Grade Language Arts

Quality lessons, challenging quizzes help kids learn core concepts

Bottom line: This solid companion to the ELA classroom offers brief lessons and quizzes to reinforce key concepts and skills.

Xyza: News for Kids

Subscription-based, kid-friendly news site keeps kids up-to-date

Bottom line: It's a useful starting point to spark interest in the news and build awareness of current events, but not as ideal for teaching media literacy skills.

LitPick

YA review site gives students a real-world, although ad-driven, outlet

Bottom line: LitPick is a decent place for YA lovers to discover and discuss books, but the site is in need of a refresh and features a lot of promotion/ads.

Amplify Reading 6-8

Supplemental reading program puts sci-fi twist on core ELA concepts

Bottom line: This is a creative, thoughtfully built program that, while a bit contrived, could slot well into many classrooms with some scaffolding.

Literal

You've never seen literature like this (and your students might just love it)

Bottom line: A compelling twist on classic lit that could be a great tool to get students interested in reading classic literature.

StudySync

Superb ELA resource features engaging activities, stellar support

Bottom line: An exceptional, ever-growing resource for helping your students become close readers, careful writers, and critical thinkers.

InsertLearning

Useful Chrome extension lets teachers add interactivity to websites

Bottom line: A potential go-to tool for teachers focused on building critical reading skills, especially those in Chromebook classrooms.

KQED Education

Excellent multimedia learning hub supports both teachers and students

Bottom line: For those willing to dig around, the site is an exceptional place for both educators and students to find inspirational digital media resources.

Poets.org

Vast array of poets and poems; on the serious side

Bottom line: Great, if slightly serious, resource for young poetry lovers to explore and gather inspiration.

Wattpad

With an authentic audience, kids can write, read, and comment

Bottom line: WIth the appropriate safeguards in place, a terrific tool for connecting kids with authentic audiences.

Youth Voices

Vibrant online community hosts authentic student writing

Bottom line: Supported student writing, collaboration, and communication make this a healthy space for kids to express themselves.

Teen Ink

Get kids writing, publishing, critiquing in this valuable network

Bottom line: Teens will find a wealth of information and many opportunities to further interest in writing and the creative arts.

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