Online Literacy Resource Treasures

We collect resources all the time but sometimes have difficulty getting them out to folks in a timely manner, so we’re adding this venue to our repertoire.

We were introduced to a couple of new (to us) literacy resources, appropriate for ELA, SS, & SCI folks. Read on and try them out!

1. Readworks.org – So get this, a reading passages depository with Lexile leveled fiction and non-fiction AND evidence-based questions to go with them! And, that’s not all…it’s FREE, and that’s a very good price! I did the online tour of the site, and learned that you can search passages by grade level, Lexile level (minimum and/or maximum), domain (subject area and not just science, but physical science or life science, for example), and skill/strategy, like Cause & Effect, Main Idea, or Point of View). Sounds like a panacea, right?  Here’s the fine print: This is a K-8 resource (but if you have struggling readers in HS, no reason not to try them out). I tried a search with the following criteria: 6th grade, Lexile Level Min 400, Max 800, Domain: Life Sciences, Skill/Strategy: Any. It came back with about six options, but the Min Lexile was 730 and the Max was 780, so some limitations. Still, we take what we can get, especially for FREE. There are also Lesson Plans/Units (choose from Comprehension, Novels, or Skill & Strategy) available through Grade 6.

2. Booklamp.org – A book match data base that allows the user to plug in a book title (I tried The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, a non-fiction title) and hit Return on your keyboard; the site looks for what they call “similar book DNA” and pops up with suggestions. For Henrietta, I received 35 non-fiction titles and 14 fiction titles. I also tried out The Hunger Games and got back 41 fiction and 8 non-fiction titles. So, is that it, you may ask? Nope. Here’s what Booklamp itself describes, “Enjoyment is our goal. We want you to glimpse the same world of possibility when you arrive at our site as you would walking in the front door of the largest, oldest, most mystical library you’ve ever seen. We want you to feel that wonder of worlds to be uncovered. If we could hire an old man that looks like a wizard to sit at the front desk, hand you a lit candle and a treasure map when you came in the door, we would.” The ELA half of us thinks this is a kinda cool philosophy.

3. Newsela.com – Many of you already have been experimenting with this, but if you haven’t tried it out, it’s worth a look! This site also provides Lexile leveled (from 4th grade to College-Ready) articles in a variety of subject areas (science, law, arts, war & peace) for FREE. In addition, teachers can register (also for FREE), and create class lists providing access for students and a monitoring tool for teachers. Several articles have CCSS “anchors” where the aligned standard(s) pops up when the user rolls the cursor over a grey number in the corner. These anchored articles also have short CCSS-aligned Selected Response (multiple choice) quizzes, that might be appropriate as a formative assessment for or a student progress tracker for others.

4. ODE – We know, we know.Searching the Oregon Department of Education’s website acan be frustrating. But there’s some cool stuff here to support CCSS across content areas: ELA, Social Studies, and Science. Once you get to the Content Area Resources page with the link above, click on your subject.  In the content areas, there’s a link to Instructional Strategies for Literacy, videos and primers on literacy integration, and more. For ELA, there are helpful links including instructional strategies, rubrics, and even a searchable database for tasks, units and student work from New York.

We hope you find these helpful resources. Of course, this list is incomplete; we didn’t want to overwhelm you. We promise more in the future. By the way, the Comments section below is a great place to share literacy resources you may have stumbled across, too!

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