Level the Playing Field With Leveled Reading

Leverage leveled reading websites to effectively and efficiently differentiate for different student reading levels, scaffold reading development, and provide equitable access to academic content.

Grades K-12 4 min Resource by:
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Even after students have “learned to read,” they will inevitably come to your classroom reading at different levels, and we must differentiate to meet their individual needs. But differentiation is hard, and it takes significant amounts of our limited time. This is where technology can be of great help. More and more online learning sites are being developed to offer automated, leveled reading tools with a wide range of topics that can be integrated into almost any content area.

Generally speaking, these sites allow you to assign different versions of the same article to students, each written at a reading level specifically matched to students’ individual needs. While the reading levels will be different, the content is the same. This can be a tremendously empowering equity and differentiation strategy that allows students to access the same academic content at their personal reading level. This approach reduces the frequency at which reading will be a barrier to content-area learning. In addition, by scaffolding reading levels through these programs, students will be better able to grow in their reading skills. Just as importantly, these sites offer streamlined workflows for teachers, so the otherwise daunting task of assigning these varied levels becomes manageable.

The list below highlights some of the most popular leveled reading options available online. Most offer similar features and have a free version to get you started as well as a paid upgrade that offers additional features. Many teachers find that the free versions provide an adequate entry point into this type of resource.

  • Newsela
    • Assign leveled materials that are aligned to academic standards.
    • Students enroll with a link or code.
    • Apply adjustable Lexile levels.
    • Explore Newsela’s YouTube playlists for tutorials and more information.
  • CommonLit
    • Find high-interest, standards-aligned lessons to help students in grades 5–12 make gains in reading and writing.
    • Set up classes and assign students with a link or code.
    • You can require certain answers to allow students to move on or see more text.
    • Accessibility tools are offered, including tools to define, translate, read aloud, and highlight.
  • ReadWorks
    • Assign leveled reading, activities, and assessments.
    • This platform is designed around research-based approaches and includes a text-to-speech option.
    • Students sign up with a class code. StepReads provide less complex versions of the text.
    • Explore ReadWorks’ YouTube playlist of tutorials.
  • Reading Vine
    • Reading Vine offers free, personalized reading skills practice to use with students of all ages.
    • Search. Select. Share. See skills grow.
    • The free site includes questions and an answer key.
    • Downloadable PDFs are available.