Monday 5 March 2018

Resources for Text Sets

Paul Britton is a curriculum coordinator for grades 4 -9 in SD22 Vernon.  Last month Paul was part of a working group in our district.  Paul shared some interesting resources with us that we could use with our students, so of course we asked him if he would be our next guest blogger!  Here Paul outlines some great resources for text sets that help support the work we do with students who need more support or more challenge.

Where do I find text that meets the reading level of all my students?

Reading ability has been, and continues to be one of the limiting factors for student success and engagement in classrooms. This is particularly true for students in grades 5-9.  Finding resources that are current and meet the diverse needs of learners is often a challenge for teachers. This is particularly true in content areas. Here are 2 go-to websites that I frequently use to support non-fiction literacy learning. Students find these sites super engaging and high interest:

Newsela: is a resource out of the States that takes contemporary news articles from major news outlets and rewrites them at multiple reading levels (some at grade 2). As if that isn't helpful enough, you can also access text sets (collections of articles on a topic) that students can then read online, in PDF, or print out.

My favourite strategy:
  • Find a few articles on the topic you are currently addressing in science.
  • Print each of the articles (so they can be marked up with all sorts of literacy strategies), making sure that you have an article for the students who need the most support and one for those needing the most challenge.
  • Incorporate reading strategies: predict what the article will be about based on the picture/title; identify the tricky words; summarise the main idea and find supporting details using sticky notes...
Draw backs:
  • There is a lack of Canadian specific news- unless it hits the world stage (eg. wildfires in Fort McMurray)
  • Newsela has a "PRO" side and many of the embedded features (eg. assessing students’ progress) are only available through a paid account.

Wonderopolis: is a web based resource that has articles searchable by subject. This site is nicely targeted at intermediate students with its ability to stretch into early middle years. Some of the features that I really like are:

  • Wonder words: highlighted words in text
  • Simple read aloud: by highlighting text and clicking the speaker icon that appears, students can hear that piece of text read to them.
  • Try it out: a section at the end of the text that asks questions, suggests activities and explorations you can do that are related to the article.
Colleagues that use these sources regularly have been able to have rich content specific conversations with students at all reading levels, determine students’ needs and target areas for growth, and allow students to build reading confidence at fluency levels that are targeted for them.  It would be great to share other places, resources, and ideas you have to integrate literacy learning and supports in your content areas.

*Thanks to Paul Britton (SD22, Vernon) for contributing to our Through a Different Lens Blog