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Resources for Close Reading and Literary Analysis Lessons

Teaching students how to dig into the deeper meaning of texts is one of the more fun and magical parts of the ELA curriculum. Through close reading, textual analysis, and literary analysis lessons, students can discover the greater significance of what they read, watch, and listen to. By digging into elements of story like theme, plot, and character, students move beyond comprehension and understand the mechanics of texts. Then, by examining a text's allusions, symbols, and historical and cultural contexts, students reflect on their world. If all goes well, practicing these skills will foster a deeper love for the written word. The resources on this list support the building of these close reading skills: Find tools for annotating and discussing texts, reading platforms, and supplemental resources for planning lessons.

Reading Platforms and Texts

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.

Grades: 2–12
Price:
Free, Paid

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.

Grades: 3–12
Price:
Free

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.

Grades: 3–12
Price:
Paid

ThinkCERCA

Structured literacy program inspires deep analysis, thoughtful writing

Bottom Line: This is an expertly scaffolded and pedagogically sound resource for developing critical reading and writing skills.

Grades: 3–12
Price:
Paid

Actively Learn

Empowering reader invites students to read with purpose

Bottom Line: Far beyond the average e-reader, this tool helps students connect with texts and each other while giving teachers useful insight into student thinking.

Grades: 3–12
Price:
Free, Paid

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.

Grades: 6–12
Price:
Free to try

myShakespeare

Handy supporting features help demystify popular Shakespeare plays

Bottom Line: This is a thoughtfully-designed site that makes Shakespeare approachable while also encouraging students to read closely.

Grades: 7–12
Price:
Free

Annotation and Analysis Tools

NowComment

Rich collaboration and close-reading tool invites deep, easy-to-assess discussions

Bottom Line: Versatile, free discussion platform for teaching, peer review, assessment, and fostering active reading.

Grades: 4–12
Price:
Free

Kami

Versatile annotation tool helps users critically connect with content

Bottom Line: Kami is an effective way to promote student interaction with texts, authentic documents, and pictures.

Grades: 4–12
Price:
Free, Paid

Hypothes.is

Browser extension adds layer of annotation and discussion to the web

Bottom Line: Free, user-friendly tool opens up the web to in-context analysis, annotation, and discussion.

Grades: 6–12
Price:
Free

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.

Grades: 6–12
Price:
Free to try, Paid

Weava

Chrome extension helps organize web-based research

Bottom Line: For Chrome users and mostly digital classrooms, this is a fairly intuitive tool that'll help students wrangle their research.

Grades: 7–12
Price:
Free, Paid

Genius

Collaborative tool lets users annotate songs, literature, web content

Bottom Line: Students can collaboratively engage in the process of annotation and analysis with various texts -- both within the forum and on the web.

Grades: 8–12
Price:
Free

Scrible

Browser extension helpful for annotation and research organization

Bottom Line: A solid -- with room to grow -- annotation and research tool; serious users will need to pay for premium.

Grades: 8–12
Price:
Free, Paid

Supplemental Resources for Teachers and Students

ReadWriteThink

Free hub for literacy lessons aims to deepen learning, engagement

Bottom Line: This is a trustworthy site that teachers of all grades/subjects could find a way to use weekly for lessons or professional development.

Grades: K–12
Price:
Free

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 online or offline targeted reading instruction in nearly any home or classroom.

Grades: K–12
Price:
Free

Critical Media Project

Relevant media clips get students examining identity, culture

Bottom Line: Teachers will need to take time to build effective lessons, but if they do, this is a useful, relevant, high-interest resource for deconstructing identity and building critical thinking and empathy skills.

Grades: 9–12
Price:
Free

CliffsNotes

A decent support for understanding reading, but not a replacement

Bottom Line: Sometimes it’s OK to make friends with the enemy; there's potential to support students as they decipher challenging texts.

Grades: 7–12
Price:
Free

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