As a middle and high school teacher, I was never really given a reading program to use with my students. I loved this flexibility, but it was time consuming to find the resources I wanted to use with my students.
As many educators are putting together their own collection of online reading resources, I wanted to share my experiences with ones that have helped my readers. I have used these programs with general education students, special education and honors students.
Raz-kids– This is an awesome online reading program. I love that students have access to their account 24/7 and that parents can see what their student is reading. This site is great for students in grades K-6. I did use this for my readers in 6th grade and some of them were too advanced for the program, so I gave them a supplemental novel to focus on instead. The leveled libraries are filled with a mixture of fiction and nonfiction texts that require students to read each work multiple times by listening to it and reading it independently. The comprehension quizzes focus on specific topics (characterization, plot, cause and effect) so teachers are able to really see the areas of strengths and weaknesses. The system also creates progress reports based on this data, which I’ve actually used in parent conferences.
Teachers do have the ability to conduct running record assessments with the program as well. I have used some of the passages, but have never had students record themselves with the software.
ReadWorks– I found ReadWorks when I first started teaching in 2010 and have used it since. This is one of those rare programs that can be used with grades K-12. The site has SO many filer options for finding the perfect text. Users can search using Lexile levels, grade level, fiction/nonfiction, content type, activity type, etc. I typically use grade or Lexile level and fiction/nonfiction to find the passages I want. Users can listen to an audio version and/or read the text independently before tackling some reading comprehension questions. Being super honest, I wish that the questions were a little more challenging at times, especially for the older grades, but these work really well for my population of students.
While teachers can print the passages and questions, you can also set up online classrooms through the site and electronically assign students assignments. I have used this feature tutoring and it was super easy to navigate and access.
Reading Detective by The Critical Thinking Co.- This is hands down my FAVORITE resource to use with my kiddos. Each passage is one page and has a page of questions that accompany it. The questions are absolutely incredible by requiring readers to use their higher thinking skills. The questions also constantly ask for textual evidence to support answers, expecting students to look at specific sentences and paragraphs.
I’m currently using the traditional book version, and using my document camera or taking pictures on my phone of passages. However, the company offers e-book, with software and app versions that I will definitely be looking into in the next few weeks to make my life easier.
Vooks– I came across Vooks earlier this year when I saw they were doing free accounts for teachers. This resource is geared towards preschool and elementary aged kiddos, so I don’t use it as much with my students. Each book is read aloud and students watch the book come to life through video. It feels like a mix between a read aloud and watching a cartoon, which is really cool for readers.
Epic– this is a one of a kind resource. It’s a digital library for grades P-6 that includes popular texts for students to read. It includes works such as Fancy Nancy, Frog and Toad and Ella Enchanted. I would recommend using this program for mini lessons and activities.
Little Reading Coach is a certified Teacher of English (K-12) and Reading Specialist (P-12) offering online reading and writing tutoring services for students in grades 3-12. For more information click here.