Posted on April 1, 2016, by Jessica Sanders
Managing and encouraging reading and writing remains a challenge for many teachers and administrators. Most schools are using programs that are not only clunky but discourage, rather than encourage, students to read more, while others are still doing everything manually, making life harder for everyone.
These five tools provide schools with a streamlined, modern and effective method for tracking reading and writing while encouraging students to do more of both. Whether your students need non-fiction materials, a place to log their reading, or somewhere to submit written assignments for immediate feedback, these tools will provide you with excellent solutions.
This reading tool will turn your students into voracious readers. Built like a regular news website, Newsela aims to make non-fiction content readily available to students—at all levels—with five reading levels for students to choose from.
Newsela also benefits teachers and admins. Teachers can assign specific articles to students and then track a variety of data points, including who read the article, who passed the quiz and who took notes.
The tracking dashboard is invaluable for teachers and administrators. Graphs show average quiz scores and the total number of quizzes taken class-wide and for each student. Both admin and teachers can also see where their students fall in comparison to other Newsela students in regards to reading-level achievements and Common Core standards.
This writing app (available for all iOS devices) encourages students of all ages to write more creatively. While the app is available for free, it’s extremely limited. At just $3.99, the pro version is well worth the cost. Write About This Pro gives students access to 125 categorized images and 375 text and voice prompts; teachers, admins and students can also create custom prompts, specific to lessons or current reading assignments. All pre-loaded prompts are Common Core-aligned.
With this simple app, students become digital authors. They can create digital portfolios of written work and create a custom avatar. Teachers can then sort by author, allowing them to check student work, and choose a prompt “level” to cater to their students’ abilities.
This reading and writing web tool motivates students to read more every day while making it easier for teachers and admin to track progress, Lexile® level and reading comprehension. With Whooo’s Reading, students log their reading and answer standards-aligned comprehension questions, which are open-ended and encourage higher-level thinking.
Students earn “Wisdom Coins” for logging reading, answering questions and interacting with their peers within their Facebook-like, class-wide newsfeed, motivating them to read and log more, while collaborating with peers.
The Data Dashboard is where admin and teachers will find the most value. Here they can track class-wide and individual student progress, including Lexile® level of books read, the number of questions answered, standards mastered and more. Teachers can set reading and writing goals, print reports for conferences and provide immediate feedback to students’ comprehension responses, allowing them to personalize the learning experience for every student.
With the Gaggle Safe Learning Management System (LMS), your students have a variety of opportunities to practice their writing skills, both formally and informally. A standout feature of the LMS is that it promotes student writing with a built-in blogging tool. With this, students can publish work that can easily be seen by teachers and shared with friends and family.
Other features such as Discussion Boards and Chat prompt students to write in a more informal fashion while collaborating with their teacher and peers. Teachers and admin can use Gaggle to provide immediate feedback to students, even highlighting specific aspects of the students’ work to call attention to areas of weakness or strength. The benefit of encouraging writing through your LMS is that everything can then be found in one place, making it easier than ever to track grades and participation.
This cloud-based reading platform delivers differentiated resources and instruction for nonfiction reading—differentiation determined by Lexile® levels. With this tool, teachers and admin can help students improve reading strength and stamina with close-reading assignments.
Achieve3000’s Smarty Ants helps students master reading skills and engages them in skill-building games, activities, stories and more. The tool is ideal for school-wide improvement, allowing young students to start with letter identification and progress to structural analysis and comprehension.
With Smarty Ants, admin and teachers can track student progress both class-wide and for each student. Data to track includes yearly and weekly requirements, critical literacy skills mastery, Common Core standards and more.
Jessica Sanders is the Director of Social Outreach for Whooo’s Reading, a San Diego-based education organization that motivates students to read more every day. It’s available to teachers, schools and districts. Jessica grew up reading books like The Giver and Holes and is passionate about making reading as exciting for young kids today as it has always been for her. Follow Learn2Earn on Twitter and Facebook, and check out their new ebook, How to Bring Technology Into the Classroom, just $2.99 on Amazon.com.