Running · Teaching

Free Websites for Reading Comprehension and ELA Skills

As a reading or ELA teacher, you need a wide variety of tools in your teacher toolbox to keep your students engaged and progressing. I personally really like to be able to mix up what I’m doing in my classes, and these free websites help keep the prep work down while providing content and assessments for my students that matches their individual reading levels.

1. CommonLit

This free website is actually my favorite of the bunch. It’s incredibly user friendly and you can operate completely digitally which makes it great for distance learning. You can import classes to create accounts for your students and each reading has guiding questions for during reading comprehension and a post-reading assessment. The multiple choice questions are graded for you while the short answer questions must be manually graded.

One thing I quickly learned while using CommonLit with my 9th and 10th graders was that they knew how to cheat by creating a teacher account and accessing the answer keys. That’s the downside of having free access to such a great tool. To combat this problem, I used the questions from CommonLit for select readings and put them into a Google Form. This way, my students were never tipped off that these were actually CommonLit questions. It does require more work on your part, but it does keep students from just copying and pasting straight from a CommonLit teacher account.

2. Newsela

Newsela is a great site for ELA and social studies teachers alike. I love using this site specifically for the updated news articles when I need to cover informational texts. I like having fresh content that can be assigned digitally or easily printed. You know if you’ve ever found a news article online and tried to print it, it’s a nightmare in terms of formatting and getting the ads off of it.

newsela.com

Newsela is completely free and offers more than just news. You can find interactive videos, poetry, primary sources, fiction, texts in Spanish, opinion pieces, pro/con articles, and more.

3. ReadWorks

ReadWorks.org is another fantastic resource for differentiated reading instruction. There’s a wealth of readings with self-grading questions and progress tracking. Some texts offer the ability to change the difficultly of the text so you can assign the same reading to students of different abilities. Consistent use of ReadWorks has shown to improve reading skills in students.

4. ReadingVine

ReadingVine is the simplest option for free websites on this list. It’s best for anyone looking to find PDF copies of readings or reading sets but doesn’t offer the same grading, tracking, and differentiation tools as some of the other free sites listed above. I do use it occasionally to find supplemental readings for my students.

ReadingVine.com

As you can see, there are reading passages and questions with an answer key, but it’s pretty basic. For a free resource, it’s a good one to keep in mind, though!

Download a free, printable worksheet for use with any informational text! Great for last-minute planning or for substitute plans for your secondary reading classes.

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