When teaching students to approach paired texts, part of the challenge is actually finding paired texts to work with. I have some books from the 80′s with outdated topics and illustrations but finding current, engaging topics can prove both challenging and time consuming. Not to mention, it is hard to know how to pair texts – should it be a fiction and a non-fiction paired by topic? Should it be a poem and a narrative non-fiction paired by topic? Should it be paired by genre? It is important to expose students to a variety of paired text types so they can begin making connections.
In an effort to save you some time, I’ve compiled a short list of paired texts I’ve been using with students reading at various levels in grades 4-8.
PairsOut of the Tornado (Lexile 995)
Homeless to Harvard (Comes in 380, 590, 880) (Click the blue icon (bottom right) to change Lexile levels)
Should College Football Players be Paid?
Can you add to the list? Leave a comment with links to any texts you use – or feel free to email me so I can post them. Thanks!
Special thanks to SmartBlog on Education for the guest blogging opportunity! Check out EdGeeks featured on SmartBlog on Education today!
Supporting Struggling Readers as the Level of Text Complexity Rises
The Common Core State Standards brings about an increase in the level of text complexity. What impact does this increase have on our struggling readers and how can we best meet their needs?Click here to read more on Tips and Resources to support struggling readers.
Finding texts that are high interest at an appropriate reading level is time consuming and let’s be honest, we don’t have a lot of time! I started pulling together a list of the resources I have been using to find texts. Then I began compiling a list of paired texts, which I’ll share with you shortly. Hope this saves someone out there some time!
Scholastic Magazines Digital Resources
We all love Scholastic Magazines but they can be expensive! The one I love most is $8.49 per student, which would be possible if there weren’t 25-32 kids in each class. Some teachers ask administration for money, others ask families to pitch in, and others dig into their own pockets to order school magazines. What most teachers don’t realize is that many of Scholastic Magazines’ Digital Resources are free…at least for the time being. Each magazine has its own website and most either say, “Subscribers Only” or “No login needed for a limited time.” I’ve been using these for over a year and they are FREE! Just click where it says either “Click here for digital resources,” “Subscribers click here,” or “Click for your digital issue.” The best part is, it’s not just Scholastic News. There are a ton of magazines that are appropriate and engaging for a diverse range of readers. Many resources are SMARTBoard ready and there are often PDFs available for download.
Checkout Scholastic Magazines and find the one that is right for your students. Find my personal favorites below.
I would also like to point out that Action magazine offers a growing library of differentiated articles. Yes you heard me! That means each article comes at three lexile levels, making it possible for you to incorporate differentiation into your classroom with ease. All students can read the same content at their level. The articles are high interest too! Here they are. ReadWorks
ReadWorks is a free site, but you do need to create a login and password. The good thing is that since I signed up, I have not gotten one email from them so it’s not one of those sites where you wish you hadn’t signed up!
There are a ton of resources on ReadWorks but I only use it for the vast collection of non-fiction texts that it offers. If you click Non-Fiction Passages on the blue bar at the top of the page, it will take you to a library of texts. You can search by Grade, Skill/Strategy or Keyword. Every text has the lexile level listed for you.
Once you decide on a text, click it’s title. You can then choose to download a PDF of the passage as well as a PDF of questions designed to match the text. I create my own questions because I don’t feel that the questions always meet my target objective, but the questions are there if you want them. This site makes it easy to differentiate and to set up centers. Just click and print!Sports Illustrated Kids
I recently stumbled across this article Do Athlete’s Deserve Millions? and I traced it back to its source, Sports Illustrated Kids. That particular article was from the Kid Reporter Blog but if you click on the News and Blogs section, you will find texts that might be helpful. I find it particularly useful when I am trying to peak the interest of a hesitant reader who LOVES sports. I usually just browse the sport categories on the right sidebar and choose a sport my students are interested in and browse.Schoolwide Fundamentals
This is the most recent of my resources. It is free to create an account and you get access to a variety of resources. What I find particularly useful is the text collection. If you click on Reading Fundamentals, you are taken to a page where you choose a grade level. Once you click into your grade level, click “Shared Texts” to download free texts. The texts are organized by grade level and genre. I am still getting to know the site, but it seems like a solid find. If you try it out, leave a comment and share about the quality of the texts!
I also often find myself pulling texts from:National Geographic Kids GoKicker DoGo News
If you have other resources to share, please feel free to add to the list. I’ll publish a list of paired texts soon. Hope this helps someone out there.
With the Common Core State Standards comes an urgency for reading non-fiction in the classroom, which is great…right? Yes, of course we want our students to read non-fiction! Many teachers, however are struggling to find strong non-fiction resources. Many of the classroom libraries I see throughout the week are stocked with fiction, fantasy, classics and old favorites. They have scattered non-fiction texts at best, with selections that pale in comparison to the wide variety of fiction that is available. What is a teacher to do when standards say students must read an increasing amount of non-fiction but resources are lacking? Or worse, when the school budget has no extra money for more non-fiction resources? Fret no more, there are options!Non-fiction magazines are a great way to incorporate high-engagement non-fiction into your classroom. Click for my picks on classroom magazines. The problem is that many magazines are costly, and it is challenging to know which to choose! One piece of advice: At the moment, Scholastic Magazines offer some free digital resources that are so helpful! It can be tricky to navigate the sites. I’d recommend finding the magazine you like best and going to that magazine’s homepage. From there you should be able to navigate to any free resources. My top picks are: Scope Magazine, Scholastic Storyworks, Art Magazine and best of all Action Magazine (see below!) Action Magazine: This is an intervention magazine that is high-interest/low level. It is a wonderful resource for struggling readers in middle/high school. The best part is that they have a section of differentiated articles that come at 3 Lexile levels, allowing a teacher to provide one article at multiple levels, yet engage students in one conversation about the text. This is INCREDIBLE! In my dreams, there is an entire magazine that caters to differentiation…perhaps soon.
ReadWorks is another great free resource (you just have to create a login.) If you click on Non-Fiction Passages you can search texts by grade level, skill or strategy or keyword. The passages come with questions. To be honest, I usually create my own questions that align with the standard, skill or strategy I am teaching, but the questions are available if you wish to use them.
Time for Kids is a magazine that I have seen in quite a few classrooms. It’s a great way to fuse social studies and science with literacy. Though the magazine is pay for, full articles are available on the site.
PenPal News is a platform that allows way to pair your classroom with another classroom to read about real-world issues in the news. All texts are hand-picked non-fiction and the curriculum offers standards-aligned questions that peak critical thinking. To get involved sign up here.
*Full disclosure: I work with Michael Bernstein at PenPal News, so I obviously think it’s great:)
If you try out any of these resources and have questions, make sure to email me or leave a comment and I’d be glad to offer any support I can.
I work with an incredibly intelligent and talented fifth grader who recently amazed me by creating her own study strategy and implementing it independently.We have been working on improving her spelling for about two months. In addition to working on spelling, we are also working on building accountability for independent work between our sessions. A small portion of our work together includes spelling quizzes so when we first started working together, I asked her to study for our quizzes as her homework. She asked me how to study and I responded, “Study in a way that works for YOU.” I usually work with students to identify learning patterns that work for them and explicitly teach study strategies that will work, but I was curious to see what she would come up with.
Three weeks later, I noticed that she had scored 100% on all of her quizzes. I knew the words were quite challenging for her so I asked her to share her study secrets with me. She brought over her iPod and played me her recordings. She devised an entire study strategy independently. Listen below to hear one of her recordings:
Step 1: Write a list of words with correct spellings in spelling notebook.
Step 2: Use a voice recording device. This student used her an app on her iPod – I believe it was iTalk Recorder.
Step 3: Record your voice saying the word, a sentence and then a 3-6 second break.
Step 4: Test yourself by playing back the recording and spelling the words on a fresh page in your notebook. Check your work by referring back to your correct word list.
What I am most inspired by is the initiative she took not only to study but to self-test to see if she had mastered the material. She said she would sometimes self-test 2 or 3 times to make sure she really knew her words. I am over the moon that she took the time to do this and that her parents gave me permission to share it with the world.
On a different note, here is another reason she is so awesome! On Halloween, when many kids were simply eating their candy, Little Miss Creative was graphing her candy!
About a week ago I was walking in my neighborhood and bumped into one of my old students. For the sake of anonymity, I’ll call him Flat Stanley. I taught Flat Stanley in first and second grade. He was one of my most memorable students…a child from whom I have drawn inspiration in multiple areas of my life over the years.
I was so excited to see him and to spend some time catching up. The first thing he asked me is: “How is EdGeeks?” I thought it was so strange that he knew about it. He said that he heard from someone that I had a blog and so he comes to read my work. Then he said:
“I love to read your blog because I love to read what you think, but I never understand what you are talking about because its not for kids. Can I give you some advice to make EdGeeks cooler? Write for kids sometimes…maybe like, interview them or something.”
This really made me think about the conversations that are happening in education right now. We are at a potentially pivotal point in education and I fear we are not incorporating children into our conversations nearly enough. Personally, I have been so consumed with dissecting problems, exploring possible solutions and reading endless research that I must admit I have alienated the one audience who is at the core: Children!
I started looking around online to learn about some of the sites out there that actually appeal to students and frankly I’m disappointed. There are some news sites for kids and some game sites for kids, but there isn’t much out there that is for kids by teachers. I’m not sure if EdGeeks is the best outlet to share information for kids, but I’m definitely thinking about it. Anyone out there have any sites that their students love? I’m particularly interested in sites written for students by teachers about how to use technology to grow as learners. Thoughts anyone?