Skip to main content

Free, Leveled Online Libraries: How are teachers using them with students?

Over the past month, I've been alerted to a number of really great, free reading resources that include relevant, non-fiction texts suited for adult learners of all levels. You can read more details about each of them on this blog post from last week. 

The sites mentioned in the blog were:

While it's all well and good to throw things such as these out to instructors and say, "Look! There are a bunch of good resources out there! GO!", I don't think we can expect instructors to just jump in without first having an idea of how instructors are integrating such resources in their literacy instruction. So, I wanted to pose that very question: How are instructors using resources such as these with their learners? In particular, I'm trying to gain a sense of any or all of the following: 

  • If you are using these resources, what do you and your students like most about them?  
  • How are teachers using texts from these free sources (or others) to teach/model skills such as identifying key ideas and details, summarizing, comparing and contrasting, etc.?
  • How are teachers blending these resources into their regular literacy instruction (whether it be home grown, a publisher program, etc.)? 
  • What additional supports or tools would be wanted/needed for instructors or learners to be more comfortable and willing to use resources such as these?
  • What are some innovative ideas for using these resources you've yet to try but are interested in exploring?
  • If you are using any of these sources, what ideas do you have for expanding or building upon the great work that's been started?
  • Are there other great sources of free, leveled texts out there that you'd like to share? 

It is beyond encouraging to see the immense time and effort being put into the development of resources such as these that work both to support learners as they develop their skills and, hopefully, engender a love of literacy. I'd love to get folks sharing out ideas so we can help to expand their use within the field.

Comments

Leecy's picture
One hundred

Hi, Jeff. These are fantastic resources. They provide answers to questions that have been posted in this forum in past months. Leveled materials for adults, especially free ones, are very hard to come by. Thanks. I hope we soon hear from others regarding their experiences! Leecy (Moderator, R&W CoP)

Mardie McIlmoyl's picture
First

I can speak for Marshall Adult Education Reading Skills for Today's Adults. I've used it for ESL learners and developmentally delayed learners. The opportunity to read and hear text simultaneously is invaluable to both students. There is a wide choice of subjects at different levels of ability. Real-life photo illustrations enrich the texts. Starfall, an online program for teaching phonics and reading to children, has no-cost activities that have helped our developmentally-delayed learner to understand the mechanics of sounds to syllables to words. She loved the cartoons and stories that explained how to link sound to symbol.

CSAL I use for our ESL learner and for English-speaking adults from 4-7GE. Again, readers can hear and read real-life stories.

When I was tutoring 4 or 5 low-level learners by myself, I would get some students on the computers for 45 min-1hr, and work with others on book-reading and writing. Then I'd switch for the next hour. It worked well.

Leecy's picture
One hundred

Mardie, I love the way you combine so many best practices. I especially promote having students listen as they read! Having computers and connectivity often contribute significantly to how and haw fast students learn. Thanks. Leecy

Josh Anderson's picture
Fifty

I'm happy to have been one of the folks who connected with Jeff at IACEA in Illinois this spring.  Great questions!  Here's some quick answers to a couple of them for my program.  For us the audience for the resources is tutors and coaches and/or direct access by learners.

  • If you are using these resources, what do you and your students like most about themTutors and learners like having an easy way to find that sweet spot for text difficulty, and they like having access to a variety of kinds of readings.
  • How are teachers using texts from these free sources (or others) to teach/model skills such as identifying key ideas and details, summarizing, comparing and contrasting, etc.  Many of these texts are among those we recommend to choose from when explicitly teaching Fluency and Comprehension strategies.
  • What additional supports or tools would be wanted/needed for instructors or learners to be more comfortable and willing to use resources such as these? The two additional "resources" that I provide tutors and learners with are: 1. Detailed diagnostic assessment information from the STAR Diagnostic Reading Assessments.  (This lets them say, "I'll start with level 5 passages when I'm practicing Fluency.") 2. A rubric for when to advance or retreat in level. (Most often, I share the "five-finger rule" which I learned from one of my tutors who taught Sp. Ed. for years: If you are struggling with more than five words per page, that text is too difficult for optimal practice.  It's enough to get you thinking about level-appropriateness without getting too bogged down in the minutiae.)
  • What are some innovative ideas for using these resources you've yet to try but are interested in exploring? It would be amazing if these sites enabled comments from readers.
  • If you are using any of these sources, what ideas do you have for expanding or building upon the great work that's been started? For leveled reading sites and materials that we frequently recommended, we created leveled reading materials lists that include video guide(s), links, level information, genre information, and general advise on how they're most often used in our program.  Links to those pages are below:
  • Are there other great sources of free, leveled texts out there that you'd like to share?
    • Newsela is the best!  News stories adapted to 5 reading levels and their library of non-fiction texts is growing to the point where the name is almost a misnomer.  Gorgeous site.
    • Read Works is another good source of leveled reading materials.  The only reason it's not on our list is because of the prevalence of material that might seem childish to adults.  However, there are plenty of great readings and lessons there if you sift out what might not be appropriate for adults

Keep the sharing training moving everyone!

Leecy's picture
One hundred
Josh, you have added a great phrase to my vocabulary on this topic: "that sweet spot for text difficulty! ":)  Along with the new phrase, you've shared some great ideas and added resources for us to enjoy and use. Thanks! 
 
I hope others drop in with added comments! Leecy
Alecia Ohm's picture
Ten

Hello Jeff, in response to your question on other great sources, I know of a few instructors using ReadTheory. I believe it's still free and can be accessed by a variety of devices. They also provide printed workbooks for a small fee.

randomness