I’m here to tell you about another great resource: ReadWorks! ReadWorks is a free online source of terrific lessons, Common Core aligned tools. and graphic organizers. I registered so I can use the binder tool (a spot where I can electronically store all the great lessons I find), but you don’t have to register to use the amazing resources.
There are two main ways that I use this terrific online tool.
First, I use it to supplement my basal series, Reading Street. As we enter into this brave new world of Common Core State Standards, I recognize the basal series does not meet all the standards. For years I’ve religiously followed the guide, teaching all the skills and strategies aligned in the manual. Here’s the problem: some of the skills and strategies are not aligned to the CCSS. At the same time, some of the CCSS standards are not covered. I have gaps.
I can use ReadWorks to fill those gaps.
To do this, I first click on My Standards Alignment on the grey toolbar.
Then, instead of finding a state standard (available for all 50 states), or CCSS, I choose Reading Street, 2008.
I scroll up to Scott Foresman Reading Street 2008 (others include Houghton Mifflin Reading Skills 2008, Harcourt Trophies 2005, Treasures 2007, Imagine It! 2008, and Journeys 2011), choose 4th grade, and go.
For each Unit and story, ReadWorks lists the curriculum’s suggested skills and strategies, but also (here’s the magic) a Common Core skill and strategy that will match with the story. Not only does it include a comprehension skill, but also CCSS Speaking/Listening/Viewing, AND CCSS Research and Study Skills.
For example, here’s what pops up for Unit 1 Week 2 of the 4th grade series. Reading Street teaches a few not-too-terrific lessons on Author’s Purpose and Cause and Effect. See, in the green bar are the basal series suggested skills and strategies. Here, Readworks offers several lessons on both Author’s Purpose and Cause and Effect.
When I’m using this tool to supplement my series, I find the unit I’m teaching, as described above, and click on a lesson that I think will work.
Something to note about ReadWorks: They offer ALL lessons about a topic/skill/strategy EVERY time they occur in the scope and sequence. So, I see there are 3 lessons on Author’s Purpose here. When I encounter Author’s Purpose again later in the year, these same 3 lessons will re-appear. This is a helpful feature, because I discovered the tool later in the year and I could see all the lessons. But don’t be surprised if you print out a series of lessons later in the year and think, “Am I crazy, or have I taught this lesson before?”
If I really want to get fancy (and who doesn’t), I can download ALL of the ReadWorks suggested CCSS aligned lessons with their basal series correlation in one document! Just click on the Excel or Word icons. I used this strategy to make sure I was hitting all the CCSS standards on our report card throughout the year. I’m relieved that someone with more time than myself has aligned what I’m already using (Reading Street) to the CCSS. I don’t have to take the painful hours to do that.
Here’s the second way I use ReadWorks.
This last week my 4th graders were working on Theme. I didn’t think the lessons in Reading Street were strong enough, so I went hunting for additional lessons. ReadWorks offers units, or series of lessons, on different skills and strategies.
I chose a series of sequential lessons that build on one another. I appreciate the suggested texts. The first one suggested was Fables, which I can never find time to read with students. The second was Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters, an African folk tale. I value sharing stories from other cultures and using main characters of color in my instruction. The last story in the series is Boundless Grace from an author I love.
Each of the lessons includes a lovely scripted lesson plan in the I Do, We Do, You Do format. The lessons include graphic organizers and a model for me as a teacher to use with the students. Super easy.
After teaching the ReadWorks lesson, I had students use the graphic organizer and their newly-learned skills later in the week on the Reading Street story. I used it as their assessment for the week rather than the non-CCSS-aligned assessment provided by the curriculum. Why would I assess skills I didn’t teach and aren’t aligned? Why would I not assess the skill I just taught because it’s not on the test. By having students apply their new skill to the Reading Street story I not only assess the CCSS-aligned skill but their application of that skill with a new story.
Best of all worlds!