Review by Stephanie Trautman, Common Sense Education | Updated September 2016


An ELA teacher's one-stop shop for reading-comprehension resources

Subjects & skills
  • Critical Thinking

  • English Language Arts
Grades This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
Common Sense says (See details)
Teachers say (19 Reviews)

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Pros: It's all here for free: accessible, leveled reading passages, detailed lesson plans, and thorough comprehension activities.

Cons: Given how extensive the site is, students still have to go to a different site to interact with text and vocabulary.

Bottom Line: Part teacher's guide and part resource library, targeted reading instruction starts here with high-quality texts, lesson plans, and assessments.

Use ReadWorks as a solid support for both direct and differentiated instruction. When working with a specific group of students, it can often be hard to find engaging activities for the rest of the class. Make use of ReadWorks' reading passages in this type of situation. With everyone working independently at an appropriate level, you'll be able to give the right amount of attention to those who need extra help or intervention. Students can also listen to audio versions of some of the articles.

The novel-based units are great for supporting literature circle activities. Keep in mind that you'll need your own copies of the novels. Fortunately, these units all center on well-known literary works, ones you're likely to have in your classroom already. The skills and strategy units could serve a similar purpose. Also, as the reading passages and lesson plans are downloadable, you may want to explore ways of projecting the passages for mini-lessons on specific skills or for whole-class instruction. Lastly, check out ReadWorks Digital, which is a way for students to engage with the ReadWorks curriculum online.

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ReadWorks is a free online platform that serves as a comprehensive resource for lesson plans targeted at reading instruction. Updated regularly, the site's offerings are divided into four sections: Novel Study Units, Comprehension Units, Skill & Strategy Units, and Reading Passages. The reading passages are a vast collection of individual, leveled texts, each with a corresponding question set that's Common Core-aligned.

At present, the Reading Passages and the Skill & Strategy Units are available for kindergarten through eighth grade on and through 12th grade on ReadWorks Digital (a sister site where students can interact online with ReadWorks research-based articles, question sets, and vocabulary). The Comprehension Units are available for kindergarten through fifth grade, and the Novel Study Units are available for fifth and sixth grade. Teachers can search all the unit and lesson plans by grade, skill, or strategy -- the reading passages are searchable by domain and Lexile level as well. All the site's offerings are Common Core-aligned and accompanied by comprehension assessment activities with answer keys.

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It's easy for teachers to organize ReadWorks' vast offerings in a convenient and personalized way. You can store all the lesson plans and passages you want in the site's My Binder tool. The site's My Standards Alignment tool can be a shortcut when searching for the right resources. The best part? It's all free!

Teachers simply need to register; from there, you can access and organize any resource on the site to your liking. Lessons are thorough, with familiar and easy-to-navigate sections that support great instruction. From learning goals to materials needed and everything in between, it's all here. Unit activities include graphic organizers and worksheets that support extended responses. And if you're interested in a smaller piece of instruction, the site's individual passages are easy to find. You can filter by Lexile level, grade band, domain, or skill -- there tend to be engaging excerpts for each, to help you identify the right texts. All the passages come with comprehension questions that range from multiple-choice to short-answer and extended response. Whether you need a one-off activity or an entire unit, ReadWorks has you covered for solid reading instruction and assessment. 

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Overall Rating

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

Reading passages, lesson plans, and comprehension activities all can be shared through social media, downloaded, or printed from the site. ReadWorks Digital allows students to interact online with readings and vocabulary.

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

Activities, readings, and assessment tools help target comprehension in a focused way. From individual lessons and leveled, authentic nonfiction and literary passages to entire units, everything is Common Core-ready.

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

The FAQ section is straightforward; support is mostly teacher-focused. The range of reading levels helps, while StepReads is a feature that provides access to readers who might struggle with complexity.

Common Sense Reviewer
Stephanie Trautman Classroom teacher

Teacher Reviews

(See all 19 reviews) (19 reviews) Write a review
Featured review by
Jennifer P. , Classroom teacher
Classroom teacher
Great addition to common core standards

I like that you can explain the tool and then use the tool hands on to see how well students perform when they are reading. This could help clear up more broad topics that children are not understanding and practice is huge for this app. Without practice children do not gain the knowledge they need to comprehend what they are reading.

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