Website review by Marianne Rogowski, Common Sense Education | Updated March 2018


Differentiate reading instruction with high-quality texts and lessons

Learning rating
Community rating
Based on 35 reviews
Privacy rating
49%| Warning Expert evaluation by Common Sense
Subjects & Skills
English-Language Learning, English Language Arts, Critical Thinking

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1 video | 7 images

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.

One of ReadWorks' most attractive features is its support for different classroom setups: Any lesson can be assigned digitally, printed out, or projected in front of the class. This -- combined with it being free and full of resources -- means any teacher looking to increase students' reading comprehension, provide extra support, or differentiate by interest or text complexity will likely find something useful.

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 device. 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 that the question 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


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.


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.


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 Instructional Technology Facilitator

Community Rating

(See all 35 reviews) (35 reviews) Write a review
Featured review by
Susan A. , Classroom teacher
Classroom teacher
Mountain Shadows Elementary
West Jordan, United States
Overall a great tool to help increase student comprehension and depth of knowledge.
The only downfall is that my students are not as excited to use the program as I am. I think it's a really solid program without all the bells and whistles. I like it for this reason. Not every computer program needs to be a game for the student to learn. In addition, I think this is great to help prepare them for year end testing (that isn't in game form either).
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Data Safety
How safe is this product?
Users can interact with trusted users and/or students.
Users cannot interact with untrusted users, including strangers and/or adults.
Profile information is shared for social interactions.
Data Rights
What rights do I have to the data?
Opt-in consent is requested from users at the time personal information is collected.
Users can control their information through privacy settings.
Users can create or upload content.
Ads & Tracking
Are there advertisements or tracking?
Unclear whether data are shared for third-party advertising and/or marketing.
Unclear whether this product displays traditional or contextual advertisements.
Unclear whether this product displays behavioral or targeted advertising.

Continue reading about this tool's privacy practices, including data collection, sharing, and security.

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