According to the Common Core State Standards Initiative , a majority of the reading required in college courses and career readiness programs is informational in structure and complex in content. TRANSLATION: No matter what their futures hold, today’s students are expected to be critical thinkers and proficient readers of non-fiction.
Consequently, the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) is calling for a steady distribution shift of text structures where students will be reading 70% informational passages and 30% literary passages by the time they reach 12th grade. And as elementary and middle level teachers continue to make preparation efforts for this movement, a variety of 21st Century educational resources have also emerged.
One such tool that has steadily gained recognition in the informational text market is NewsELA . The framework for NewsELA, a free website available to teachers, students, and parents, is to provide differentiated nonfiction reading opportunities for all abilities. The articles are designed to be individually adaptable to Lexile as students demonstrate their proficiency with Common Core-aligned quizzes. Teachers can then increase or decrease the level at which the assignments are shared, making a more advanced or remedial version of the same passage instantly available.
In addition to its academic benefits, the site also offers a variety of topics for students to choose from that appeal to the eager as well as reluctant readers. This range in content helps to further ensure NewsELA as a relevant resource across the core and the elective curriculum.
Although the intensity of the rivalry should not be confused with that of Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier or Larry Bird and Magic Johnson, ThinkCERCA has also surfaced as another free website to challenge NewsELA for a corner of the online literacy market. The format, despite its structural differences, still maintains a common goal: get students to closely analyze text and think critically.
ThinkCERCA eliminates articles that are individually adaptable to lexile and instead takes this task upon itself. Each passage is identified within a given Grade Band: 4-5, 6-8, 9-10, and 11-12. And to help teachers still promote differentiation within their classes, similar to NewsELA, the site provides customizable, ability-based student sections. This feature brings convenience when tracking progress after the post-reading Common Core-aligned assessments and providing immediate feedback to students and parents.
Additionally reflective of NewsELA’s structure is ThinkCERCA’s concept of collaboration across the curriculum. Articles are equally as relative to science, history, and math as they are to health, art, and economics with representation from each of the various other educational disciplines also present.
Despite a continued focus expected on literature and literary nonfiction in the English-Language Arts classroom, the NAEP further stresses the need for other core and technical courses to instructionally match the priority of informational text. Fortunately for teachers who are open and eager to align 21st Century learning resources with the Common Core State Standards Initiative, both NewsELA and ThinkCERCA provide a useful means to accomplishing this universal goal.
“Read Closely.Think Critically.Be Worldly.” Newsela . N.p., 2014. Web. 06 Mar. 2014. http://www.newsela.com/pages/about-newsela/ >.
“Shared Responsibility for Students’ Literacy Development.” Common Core State Standards Initiative . N.p., 2012. Web. 05 Mar. 2014. http://www.corestandards.org/ela-literacy/introduction/key-design-consideration >.
“Think Critical! Think Collaboration. ThinkCERCA.com | Approach.” Think Critical! Think Collaboration. ThinkCERCA.com | Approach . N.p., 2013. Web. 06 Mar. 2014. http://blog.thinkcerca.com/approach/ >.