This article highlights websites, apps, and software that are designed to help parents and teachers navigate teaching children reading and writing skills.
If you are looking for an outstanding Digital Library targeted for children ages 12 and under, EPIC is for you. This library contains 40,000 titles from award-winning fiction, non-fiction, biographies, and more. Whether you are looking for classics such as Where the Wild Things Are or the beautifully illustrated book about prepositions Under, Over, By the Clover, EPIC features books for all genres and interests.
You can track your child’s progress by the story completion monitor. Each book has an accompanying quiz to test a child’s comprehension. EPIC allows the creation of “favorites” and “personalized collections”. This app also provides a read-aloud feature. Teachers can set students up for free remote access through June 30th, 2020. The app is available for download or you can visit the website.
The next highlighted website is geared for those looking to teach all areas of reading development. CommonLit is a website that contains over 2,000 high-quality free reading passages for grades 3-12, complemented by aligned interim assessments, growth-oriented data, and expert-led teacher development.
CommonLit provides a comprehensive searchable library where one can browse by book, genre, grade level, literary device, text set, theme, and Spanish texts. Each reading selection features the grade level, Lexile level, an annotation tool, guiding questions, assessment questions, and discussion. Within each selection, there are tabs to select paired texts, related media, teacher guides, parent guides.
This website is very parent and student-friendly. It was easy to search the library, select literary devices, and a feature such as alliteration, symbolism, figurative language. Once an item is selected then the books related to that selection are provided. The layout and design of CommonLit are similar to Writable which is also highlighted in this article. The similarities make these resources a nice pairing for an all-inclusive development of reading and writing skills.
Google Lit Trips
Perhaps, you have a child that is adventurous and would like to take a trip right along with the characters of a story. The Google Lit Trips website provides downloadable files that mark the journeys of characters from famous literature on the surface of Google Earth. Along the trip through the story place markers with pop-up windows contain “just in time” resources which include relevant media, thought-provoking discussion starters, and links to supplementary information about “real world” references in that portion of the story.
The focus is on creating engaging and relevant literary experiences for students. Google Lit Trips allows students to experience the story by traveling alongside the characters and view the settings as if they were actually there. Selections are categorized by grades K-5 titles, K-6, and 9-12. This interactive tool can be an excellent aid for building comprehension.
TIME for Kids
TIME for Kids is a weekly published digital magazine for elementary school students. It offers a rich selection of articles, multimedia, and teaching resources that align with Common Core Standards in English Language Arts. Included in the website links is a colorful, easy to understand, guide for “Using TIME for Kids to Meet the Common Core State Standards” for kindergarten through grade 6.
In an effort to support educators and families during this time, the magazine has opened up all of the 2020 content and will be providing materials every week through the end of the school year. Each issue contains a guide to help educators teach the content including lesson plans, defined vocabulary terms, worksheets, and a quiz for all featured articles. TIME for Kids is a wonderful resource when you want to focus on a short read yet still teach the components of reading and literacy.
Since reading and writing go hand in hand parents and teachers alike may be wondering how to support students with writing skills. Writable is a website designed to aid students to gain writing skills through instructional scaffolding and targeted feedback.
At first glance, Writable might seem like it is solely for educators, however, upon closer examination, it is a useful resource for parents as well. The design of this software is seamless and user-friendly. By providing a vast amount of student examples, prompts, guides, and quizzes Writable can help parents feel confident in teaching writing skills. Writable supplies educators with the ability to give immediate feedback to students via virtual learning.
Teachers can scaffold lessons and motivate students to become purposeful, proficient writers. This writing tool provides easy ways to assess and monitor writing growth. Writable has 600+ assignments and writing prompts. This website provides multiple search options such as grade level, writing genre, and specific skills. The Reading Skills section includes lessons such as analyzing text along with retelling and synthesizing.
Students can learn all of the components of writing within all genres. Writable includes Rubrics and Standards in all of their lessons. Navigating Writable is simple whether you are a seasoned teacher, parent, or student.
Finally, parents may find themselves asking, “What are the basics of reading that my child should be learning to be a proficient reader?” The Reading Rockets website offers a wealth of research-based reading strategies, lessons, and activities designed to help young children learn how to read and how to become better readers.
Reading Rocket’s resources are geared to assist parents, teachers, and other educators in helping struggling readers build fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension skills.
At a time of social distancing and virtual learning, we are in unchartered waters. In the midst of the storm, we have discovered a sense of community. A community that is ensuring our children will still be learning as we look toward calmer seas ahead.
About the Author
Shari Schukraft has been in education for over 25 years teaching children of all ages. She has been a master instructor with the Institute for Multi-Sensory Education for 13 years.
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