Review by Monica Encarnacion, Common Sense Education | Updated November 2016

CommonLit

Feature-rich literacy resource offers superb support for readers

Subjects & skills
Skills
  • Critical Thinking

Subjects
  • English Language Arts
  • Social Studies
  • English Language Learning
Grades This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
5-12
Common Sense says (See details)
Teachers say (1 Review)

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5 images

Pros: Leveled texts and adaptive tools make it easy to tailor the reading experience for every student.

Cons: Students will need some help to get the most out of the toolbar.

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.

Teachers can use the wealth of literacy resources on this site to plan engaging lessons that target student's reading needs around a wide variety of themes, with names such as America, Education, Family and Friendship, Prejudice and Discrimination, Resilience, and Growing Up, to name a few. Let's say you're learning about the civil rights movement with your class and want to find passages about the topics of freedom and equality but have kids at a variety of reading levels in your class. A quick filtered search can help you find a variety of leveled passages for your students around one common theme or topic. Teachers can provide printed copies for students to use or assign passages for online reading. In addition, teachers can rely on the provided discussion questions to hold critical in-class discussions.

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CommonLit is a free digital library of leveled texts -- news articles, poems, short stories, and historical documents. You can filter collections by grade level, Lexile level, theme, genre, literary device, and even Common Core State Standards. Every passage includes footnotes with vocabulary words and essential background information. An adaptive-technology-type toolbar for online reading includes a dictionary, a highlighter, text-to-speech functionality, and translation features for 13 languages. Below the toolbar, you'll find a question set included side by side with the text: four discussion questions, five text-dependent multiple-choice questions, and one short-answer question. The text-dependent questions address Common Core standards, and each of those standards is noted right next to the question. Suggestions for paired passages and related media resources are also included, and you'll find those in the tabs along the top of each page. Multiple-choice responses and short-answer exemplars are included in the Teacher Guide tab. In addition, the Parent Guide tab comes filled with suggestions to extend learning at home.

Students and teachers can sign up for free accounts. Teacher accounts include an easy-to-navigate teacher dashboard that allows you to create multiple classes, assign reading passages to students, score responses to questions, and track progress for an entire class or an individual student. Student data is gathered and displayed in colorful, easy-to-follow visuals that include graphs, tables, and charts. At the bottom of the teacher dashboard, you'll even find a list of students who need to be challenged more and those who may need further remediation.

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CommonLit's adaptive reading toolbar makes text accessible for students at a variety of reading levels and language abilities. It's perfect for English language learners and struggling readers. Every passage -- printed in PDF format or accessed online -- includes footnotes with vocabulary words and essential background information that is critical for kids to understand when reading a passage. The included discussion questions get students thinking critically about text during independent reading and beyond. Thinking about reading is further encouraged by text-dependent questions that are included with each passage.

Learning can be extended even further through the use of the suggested paired texts, related media, and useful suggestions to engage parents and extend learning at home. These resources really lend themselves well to building students' background knowledge on a specific topic. They're also a great choice for homework assignments, remediation, and extension activities around the same topic.

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Overall Rating

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?

Students can read passages at different levels and tailor their own reading experience based on individual needs and preferences. Each passage includes an image and is structured in easy-to-follow paragraphs that make it more enjoyable to read.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer?

Students gain conceptual understanding and learn to think critically about authentic passages on diverse topics. They'll also build essential background knowledge through the use of footnotes, paired texts, and related media.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students?

This site’s adaptive technology makes it accessible to students from a variety of learning, cultural, and linguistic backgrounds. Parent guides provide useful ideas for supporting learning at home.


Common Sense Reviewer
Monica Encarnacion School support staff

Teacher Reviews

(See all 1 reviews) (1 reviews) Write a review
Featured review by
Kimberly B. ,
Excellent resource that is easy to differentiate, paired texts that are interesting and engaging!

I love this teaching tool. The ease of getting it running, the ability for kids to access it and the thoroughness of it makes it a quality tool in my classroom. I can monitor students ability to read and respond to text at their speed and pull small groups while others are working constructively from the site.

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