We are in an amazing era of innovation for schools, where resources abound and new classroom tools are created daily. The challenge can be for teachers to identify and determine which resources may support the diversity of learners in their classrooms. Combining MAP Reports and the multifaceted tools can help teachers address learning where students are “Ready to Learn” without accruing additional costs to school budgets. NWEA has introduced two new tools that use RIT scores from MAP to identify content from Khan Academy, and, through our RIT to Resource portal, open education resources (www.rittoresource.org). The tools allow the user to enter or select a specific RIT score for a subject area and then learning resources are provided. Both of these tools support direct instruction focused on specific and targeted areas for the student.
Below are nine free tools that can support students’ work with the MAP Learning Continuum objectives. Although, these resources do no currently align to MAP nor do they allow the user to enter a RIT score, they can be used to support work by the student based on the interpretations from the Class Report, Student Goal Setting Worksheet, and the Student Progress Report. These tools can be used to further skill development and/or skill reinforcement, develop pre-requisite skills prior to learning new content, and most of all extend learning beyond the classroom.
1. LearnZillion.com: Used for 2nd through 12th grades (expecting to expand to the lower grades in the near future) offer video lessons for Math and Language Arts organized by Common Core Standards. The teacher sets up a class and then assigns content to students. This is a great tool to support the differentiation in the classroom and allow teachers to meet students where they are ready to learn on the Learning Continuum.
- Using the Learning Continuum, teachers can filter by standard and topic to determine the learning objectives for students. Teachers then can use LearnZillion to sort by standards and identify specific skill work to assign to the student in alignment of the skills identified for the student.
2. Readworks.org: Offers lesson plans sorted by reading comprehension skill and grade level. Additionally, there are reading passages with questions that can be sorted by Lexile level and/or reading comprehension skill. The reading passages can be used for independent practice and evidence to show goal attainment.
- Using the Class Report or the Student Goal Setting Worksheet, teachers can identify the Lexile level of the students and then sort passages based on Lexile level.
- Using the Learning Continuum, teacher can identify the students readiness level for a topic area such as sequencing. Then refer to Readworks lessons on the topic of sequencing to locate lessons that would be at the students’ readiness level.
3. Tweentribune.com: Teachers create a class and can assign reading nonfiction articles based on grade, interest, and/or Lexile level. Students can comment and/or answer critical thinking question(s) that are posted at the end of some of the articles. Teachers must approve student comments in order for them to be released. The design of this website allows teachers to differentiate, engage students in learning beyond the classroom day, and enhance writing skills. Can support skill work around non-fiction reading skills and critical thinking responses.
4. Newsela.com: Current events come alive through this non-fiction based website. The site consists of current events that are organized by subject/topic area and is searchable. The Lexile level of an article can be adjusted based on given choices and many of the articles include a quiz. Teachers can set up a class and assign articles or simply print off the articles.
- Tweentribune and Newsela are helpful for supporting students reading abilities based on their Lexile levels and address areas of non-fiction skill development.
5. Storybird.com: Let the creative juices run with this art inspired writing tool! Using colorful and beautiful designed pictures, students can create single page stories or entire books. They control the flow of the pages and add create the text. Teachers can monitor their students work, provide feedback, and control the settings on how the book is published. With teacher approval, students can comment and give feedback to each other. This is great for all students, but especially students who need to “see” the story before they can create their masterpiece. Great tool to address specific grammar skills, creative writing, story development, story elements, and/or sentence structure.
- This site can offer the most support to teachers who need to find ways to improve areas of writing found on the Language Learning Continuum.
6. Wordsift: Take reading and editing to the next level with this website. The user can paste text into the box and repeated words are emphasized through enlargement of the text. The more a word is used, the larger it is displayed. Unlike Wordle or Taxedo that creates words clouds using a similar dynamic, Wordsift allows the user to click on words within the text so that the visual thesaurus can identify similar words. Below the thesaurus the definition is displayed.
- Great tool for students who need to read text beyond their reading ability by breaking down the words into more familiar words. Also, allows a writer to increase the variety of words using the thesaurus tool.
7. Rewordify: Does what it says! Rewords text to make it easier or more difficult. Helps teach vocabulary and make text accessible to all learners. Teachers can create quizzes, vocabulary cards, matching worksheets and cloze reading passages.
8. Xtramath: Focused on building student fluency in addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. Teachers create a class and can monitor students’ progress. Students work on the site daily for 3 to 5 minutes. Easy to use, short time commitment and rewarding. Additionally, parents can monitor student’s progress and sign up for weekly updates.
9. Paperrater.com: Allows students to evaluate and receive feedback on a paper. Provides feedback on grammar, word usage, plagiarism and provides the user with some suggestions for improvement.
In sum, using the Learning Continuum teachers are more able to identify what students can work on to meet their specific learning needs. These tools can be used to further practice and support specific areas of growth or reinforce classroom content.