Are you looking for ways to test student comprehension skills online? If so, ReadWorks Digital could be just what you are looking for. This nonprofit company offers a completely free service for teachers that is aimed at making your students more successful readers. They have a library of lexiled, grade level texts that covers both fiction and nonfiction writing, and each selection is paired with a vocabulary work bank and formative assessment questions. Some texts even include text to speech audio. Here’s how it works.
Getting Started With ReadWorks Digital
Teachers can register for free accounts at http://digital.readworks.org and then set up the classes that they need. You have a choice of whether you want students to sign in with their Google accounts, or whether you want to create accounts for them. Students go to digital.readworks.org/student and enter the class code to register for your class. A default password is given to students when they log in without a Google account. Students can change their passwords to something more memorable, but the teacher can reset passwords at any time too. See the video below for more information.
Searching for Articles
There are a number of ways to find the text that you are looking for. Simply click Find Articles at the top of the page to get started and look to the filters on the left hand sidebar to narrow your results. Articles can be sorted by grade level or lexile level, according to your needs. You can also choose to search for texts that include audio or StepReads. A StepRead is a less complex version of the original article, and allows all your students to be reading the same content, but with some students accessing it at a reading level that is more appropriate to their reading level. (If you are familiar with Newsela, you will know how this works). You can also sort texts by fiction and nonfiction.
Across the top of the search screen you will also see the ability to sort by subject. For instance, you can filter by Social Studies, and then drill down further to articles on Civics and Government. You can do the same with Science and Literature texts. You can also filter by specific reading skills to meet the standards you are assessing. Skills like author’s purpose, fact and opinion, or sequencing can be chosen from this subset. There are also special collections from famous museums. See the video below for more information.
Assigning an Article
When you find the article you want, you can assign it to students by clicking the blue Assign button in the top right-hand corner. You can assign an article to the whole class or to select students. This is also the stage where you choose to include the audio version and/or the StepRead version. You can also choose a start date. This is the date that the article will appear on the student dashboard when they log in. See the video below for more information.
Grading Student Work
All assigned articles come with a set of reading comprehension questions. Once they are answered by students, you can return to your teacher dashboard and click on any assigned article to see the student data. Some questions will ask for a typed answer, so these will need graded manually. The same applies for questions that ask students to draw a picture or complete a task outside of the ReadWorks website. See the video below for more information.
For a free service, ReadWorks Digital has a lot to offer teachers. It’s growing bank of digital texts are engaging and informative. It is a clean, well organized website that even includes Teaching Tips for Teachers who are interested in using their resources with students. There are no mobile apps for ReadWorks Digital, but the website works perfectly well on Macs, PCs, Chromebooks and iPads so I would encourage you to check it out and see how well it could work for your students.