When we create English language arts lessons and units that are aligned to the CCR standards, choosing high-interest texts with multiple layers to analyze through multiple reads isn’t always easy, especially when our programs are not flush with cash to purchase as many publisher materials as we may like.

Fortunately, there are many terrific sources of FREE text online, and many of these sources come with CCRS-aligned questions and Lexile measurements. We know that we need to be selective based on what may be appropriate for adult learners, but there is a lot of great stuff to choose from!

Some of the following resources may be familiar to you, but I bet at least one of them will be new! This is Part 1 of several articles, with this article focusing on resources with K-12 grade level equivalency (GLE) text or text ranges above 4th GLE. In upcoming articles, we’ll take a look at some more free text resources including some resources specifically targeting ELLs and lower-level readers. Remember that when you see references to the Common Core standards in these resources, the Common Core is what our CCR standards are based on.

All of the following text sources are free, though some require a quick registration.

1. CommonLit

This 3-12 GLE (CCRS Levels B-E) website was one I learned about from participants in the CCRS Implementation Cohort. The site has the following highlights:

  • CCRS alignment
  • Lexile measurements
  • informational and literary texts with audio
  • embedded comprehension questions and definitions
  • assessment and discussion questions
  • paired readings, units and teacher guides

2. Word Generation (SERP)

Looking to engage students in debate about high-interest issues? This resource has multiple units targeting 6th-8th GLE. Each unit is interdisciplinary (including math) and includes work with academic language, argumentation, analytic reasoning, reading to find evidence, and argumentative writing. Additional science and social studies units are available as are units intended for 4th-5th GLE organized around central questions. You can print the PDFs. I like to use materials from this site with my GED students.

3. Reading Vine

Another great website I found out about from a CCRS Implementation Cohort participant this year. Highlights of this K-12 GLE website include:

  • fiction and nonfiction texts
  • Lexile measurements
  • reading sets
  • questions included with selections
  • printable PDFs with answer keys

4. Newsela

A favorite website of many ABE teachers (I use these texts with my STAR and GED/diploma students), particularly because teachers can print one article out in different Lexile levels for differentiation in a multi-level classroom. Teachers can also create classes with this website and assign texts to students. Some other highlights of this popular website are:

  • 2nd-12th GLE text
  • text sets organized around themes (for math too!)
  • searches by CCR standard
  • CCRS-aligned comprehension questions
  • timely articles on current events
  • primary sources and pro-con texts
  • printable PDFs

5. Readworks

Another highly popular website for ABE teachers including K-12 GLE nonfiction and literacy texts. The questions that accompany Readworks texts are text-dependent and generally aligned with the CCR ELA standards. Like Newsela, teachers can create classes and assign texts to students. Other highlights include:

  • Lexile measurements
  • paired texts
  • skills and strategy units
  • audio
  • searches by grade level, type and content
  • printable PDFs

A good text is the basis of a great CCRS ELA lesson and can lead to work with reading, writing, language and speaking & listening standards in numerous activities. Don’t be afraid to spend time working deeply with one text rather than spending just a bit of time with multiple texts. The CCRS math folks say to delve an inch wide and a mile deep, so dig in to these sites and see what you find! If you have any favorites you’d like me to highlight in Part 2, please email me at [email protected].

Kristine Kelly, Literacy & ELA Coordinator ATLAS