Review by Marianne Rogowski, Common Sense Education | Updated March 2018

ReadWorks

Differentiate reading instruction with high-quality texts and lessons

Subjects & skills
Subjects
  • English Language Arts

Skills
  • Critical Thinking
Grades This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
K–12
Common Sense says (See details)
Teachers say (17 Reviews)

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Pros: Standards-aligned content across subject areas allows for targeted reading instruction via leveled reading passages, detailed lesson plans, and thorough comprehension activities.

Cons: Students can't access additional content on their own, and teachers can't customize questions.

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.

Any teacher looking to increase students' reading comprehension, provide extra support, or differentiate by interest or text complexity can use ReadWorks to easily assign high-quality online or printed articles and assignments for use in class or at home. Use the Article-a-Day sets to establish a 10- to 15-minute daily reading routine that increases students' background knowledge and improves vocabulary skills. Assign Paired Texts -- chosen for different perspectives on the same topic -- to encourage more in-depth analysis, compare perspectives, or check for bias. Use the wide range of resources to create engaging whole-class reading lessons, literature circles, differentiated group work, or independent center work, or pull small groups to work on specific standards or skills.

Teachers can even assign articles that include the audio narration feature so students can listen to texts within a classroom listening center or on their devices. This may be particularly helpful in supporting ELLs and struggling readers. Finally, assess students and give feedback by assigning sets of multiple-choice and short-answer questions. Keep in mind, the questions sets are not customizable, so you may want to develop supplemental questions or activities to better meet students’ needs.

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ReadWorks is a free website offering resources for differentiated reading instruction, specifically comprehension. There's a range of nonfiction texts, activities, and assessments as well as an online platform teachers can use to track student progress. After signing up as a teacher, click on Class Admin from the top menu and create a class. Teachers can add students manually or via Google Classroom by sharing a class code. Using the drop-down menus, teachers will find all that they need to get started: class demo videos, classroom protocols, tips, and suggestions that will make it easy to implement or improve reading instruction. Once classes are created, teachers can begin curating reading assignments by grade level, Lexile level, StepReads availability, and whether or not audio is included. Teachers can easily assign passages, corresponding vocabulary lists, and Common Core-aligned question sets to an entire class or to individual students. An easy-to-use Assignments dashboard makes it simple to grade student responses, track progress, and provide direct feedback. Multiple-choice questions are automatically graded, but teachers will have to grade short-answer questions and, if they wish, provide written feedback.

Partnerships with organizations like the Museum of Modern Art, The History Channel, and The Wall Street Journal make for regularly updated, quality content related to history, geography, science, technology, health, and more. These partnerships, combined with a teacher collaboration feature, make ReadWorks an ideal resource for teaching reading across the content areas.

Full Disclosure: ReadWorks and Common Sense Education share a funder; however, that relationship does not impact Common Sense Education's editorial independence and this learning rating.

The content-rich ReadWorks platform easily lends itself to differentiation and supports students' development of vocabulary skills and background knowledge. Convenient features such as the ability to curate lists and view assignments over time make it easy to monitor student progress. Lessons are thorough, with familiar and easy-to-navigate sections, and unit activities include graphic organizers and worksheets that support extended responses and critical analysis. Passages within the Skills & Strategies category provide even further opportunities for differentiation and targeted instruction, covering a wide range of reading concepts including author's purpose, inferencing, plot, fact and opinion, and more.

In addition to its regular content, the site includes access to StepReads passages, which provide struggling readers with a more accessible, less complex version of authentic nonfiction or literary texts. Teachers can use StepReads to scaffold lessons and support students' needs without sacrificing quality. Many passages also include an audio option for those who struggle with written text or simply prefer to supplement their reading with audio. Reading passages include vocabulary lists, definitions, examples, and in many cases, Spanish cognates, making content particularly accessible to Spanish-speaking ELLs. Keep in mind that students can only access content that teachers have assigned, so consistency will be key in promoting development of students' reading skills across content areas.

Overall Rating

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

There's a lot of varied, high-interest passages. Materials can be shared through social media, downloaded, or printed. Students interact online with readings and vocabulary, but the experience isn't designed for engagement.

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

StepReads and voice narration allow teachers to target reading instruction. Paired Text and Article-A-Day features help create a more authentic and integrated reading environment.

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 with embedded tutorials. The range of reading levels helps, while the accessibility features provide access for readers who might need additional supports.


Common Sense Reviewer
Marianne Rogowski Media specialist/librarian

Teacher Reviews

(See all 17 reviews) (17 reviews) Write a review
Featured review by
Ellen J. , Classroom teacher
Classroom teacher
Printable passages and questions as well as lesson plans
I'm continually impressed with the variety of passages. Since I started using ReadWorks they have added additional passages for older students in grades 9-12 as well as added a wealth of readings for science and social studies topics. I wish there was a way to access more of the readings digitally to avoid printing, however, the ability to supplement class readings with ReadWorks makes it a great tool for producing running records or supplementing passages for struggling readers.
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