Common Sense

TOP PICKS | 18 TOOLS

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.

Continue reading

Top Picks

RELATED

PrintPrint | Save as PDF

Reading Platforms and Texts

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.

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.

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.

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.

StudySync

Superb ELA/EL resource is a complete package

Bottom line: StudySync continues to thoughtfully grow its already robust platform, offering a complete secondary ELA/EL program that cleverly bridges reading and writing, online and offline work.

Annotation and Analysis Tools

NowComment

Rich collaboration and discussion site engages students and teachers

Bottom line: It's a versatile discussion platform for teaching, peer reviewing, and fostering active reading, and offers much more than traditional word processors.

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.

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 annotation and discussion.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Supplemental Resources for Teachers and Students

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.

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.

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.

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.

SparkNotes

Study aids for required texts can help struggling readers

Bottom line: Used properly, students can boost comprehension and gain insights for class discussion; teachers can be aware of the contents to gain greater insights into their students' analysis.

Get tips for using these tools in the classroom

See related resources