Common Sense Review
Updated December 2015


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Elegant, customizable e-reader empowers close reading, boosts skills
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Common Sense Rating 4
  • Students get instant feedback on embedded multiple-choice questions.
  • Detailed reports are available for each assignment and each student.
  • It's easy to edit and customize Curriculets for different classes.
  • Books come with built-in questions and prompts for writing and discussion.
  • The library features public-domain classics plus newer titles, many of which are available to rent or buy.
  • Preloaded questions offer CCSS alignment.
  • An excellent teacher's guide offers a wealth of info about using the site and detailed guidance on writing text-dependent questions.
  • With a subscription, users can explore articles from USA Today.
Great customization features help teachers boost students' close reading skills with text checkpoints that test comprehension.
A recommendation tool for related reading could increase personalization and engagement; adding paid features can get pricey fast.
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.
Patricia Monticello Kievlan
Common Sense Reviewer
Foundation/Non-Profit Member
Common Sense Rating 4
Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return? 4

The interface is well designed and organized -- the teacher and student dashboards are easy to navigate. There are tons of fiction and nonfiction titles, and the news stories from USA Today should appeal to students.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer? 4

Teachers can encourage active reading with multiple checkpoints to engage kids and boost comprehension. These can include annotations, multiple-choice questions, links, and short-response questions.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students? 4

Videos and other tutorials are available for both teachers and students, and comprehensive reports help track student progress. Within the e-reader, features include annotations, definitions, font-size adjustment, and search capabilities.

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How Can Teachers Use It?

You can best leverage the power of Curriculet by uploading your own texts to use on the platform. Help your students connect with carefully crafted and customized Curriculets; you'll give your students yet another great way to access learning content. Take your time in creating these quality checkpoints -- they're bound to help you measure your students' engagement and understanding of just about any text. And remember that you can assign Curriculets as a quick alternative to short, paper-based assignments for formative assessment. Once you're finished, consider sharing the Curriculets you create with your colleagues -- they'll be able to adapt them to their own instructional needs.

Using Curriculets for homework could be an easy way to check for reading completion, which can free up your class time for other activities -- say, a Socratic seminar based on a text your students just finished. You could also ask students to annotate texts themselves as they read. As you review their annotations, keep an eye out for clues into your students' overall comprehension skills.

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What's It Like?

Curriculet is an easy-to-navigate e-reading platform that lets teachers assign a variety of fiction, nonfiction, and news texts to their students. What's more, teachers can embed a variety of "checkpoints," or assessment items for students, within texts. Curriculet's library includes a giant selection of free, public-domain literature, searchable by categories such as grade level and genre. There's also a wide selection of more current texts available; thousands of titles can be rented for 60 to 90 days at prices ranging from $0.75 to $3.49 per teacher, per student. Curriculet also features daily articles from USA Today that include standards-aligned quiz questions leveled for elementary, middle school, and high school readers. This news feature is free to try for 45 days and then costs $4.99 per student, per year after the trial period. In addition to the wide range of fiction and nonfiction texts available, teachers can upload their own texts to the library in a variety of formats, including PDF files, Word documents, Google Docs, or websites. 

After selecting or uploading texts, teachers can get to work adding a variety of checkpoints to help guide students' reading. Checkpoint options include multiple-choice or short-answer questions, annotations, or hyperlinks; these can be aligned to various ELA Common Core State Standards. Grouped together, the collected checkpoints for a text are called "Curriculets." The library includes a number of texts that come with ready-made Curriculets; teachers can use these as is, edit them, or even create their own from scratch. All Curriculets are customizable and shareable. Within the texts, students attend to checkpoints as they read, getting instant feedback on the multiple-choice questions. In fact, students can't proceed to the next page of text without completing each checkpoint. Using the e-reader's tools, students can search a text, adjust the font size, make annotations, and look up definitions of unknown words. For teachers, the platform offers a quick way to grade short-answer questions, as well as provide detailed data reports for each student.

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Is It Good For Learning?

Overall, Curriculet is a great platform for fostering high-quality, high-impact ELA instruction. Most importantly, this type of tool can help teachers model active reading skills for their students. Carefully crafted checkpoints within texts have the potential to alter kids' reading experience in a positive way, calling attention to key text features and helping students develop close reading skills. The in-text assessments offer students instant feedback on their comprehension of a text, and teachers can use their students' results to get valuable feedback on progress and ongoing performance.

There are several great e-reading platforms out there, and Curriculet stands out for its ease of use for teachers. Any teacher can sign up for free, and it's easy to upload your own texts or annotate existing texts from the library. The fact that teachers can group texts by class or by assignment is especially helpful. With the tool, teachers can easily encourage students to engage with fiction, nonfiction, and news stories side by side, as well as invite reflection and commentary on how these texts relate and why that matters. There's also the option to use the built-in checkpoints and assessments, and anyone can add and customize their own content. As teachers create their own Curriculets, they can share them with others, both locally or within their extended personal-learning network.

More social features (such as the ability for students to interact with each other) or options for better personalization (such as recommended reads based on personal interests or reading level) could help boost engagement and learning potential. Plus, some elements of the site can get pricey; those per-student, per-year subscriptions can add up. Also, it's worth mentioning that some students will prefer reading some YA titles simply for pleasure and might not always like the types of in-text assessments found here. With that said, Curriculet remains a powerful tool; teachers can use it effectively -- even for free, and with their own uploaded texts -- to make a serious impact on their students' close-reading skills.

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