We know that all students need access to grade level content area information, but how can we make this happen with students of so many varying reading levels?
Some ways to support students in understanding difficult content area information are using engaging videos, photos, presentations, and giving clear oral descriptions. However, students still need to practice taking in information through nonfiction texts independently in order to be successful lifelong learners.
WHY SHOULD I USE DIFFERENTIATED READING PASSAGES?
One simple way to help students with nonfiction reading comprehension is to use differentiated reading passages. This way, students still get the same access to the content, vocabulary, nonfiction reading skills, and activities. The only thing that is different is that now the text is accessible to them in order to dive into reading comprehension.
Differentiated Reading Passages allow students to:
- Access grade level content area information at their own reading level
- Practice important nonfiction reading skills
- Build independence in reading informational texts
- Participate confidently in follow up conversations and activities about the information
- Feel successful in reading nonfiction texts
HOW DO I USE DIFFERENTIATED READING PASSAGES?
Using different leveled reading passages in your classroom is not something that needs to be announced, or obvious, to students. Simply passing out passages strategically is all that it takes. You can use differentiated passages with partners that have the same leveled text, in small guided reading groups, or for independent reading.
The key is that all follow up content area vocabulary and comprehension activities can be completed regardless of the level text they have been assigned.
Aside from access to the content area, differentiating reading passages can be used to support growing readers in developing strong nonfiction reading skills. Some examples of nonfiction reading skills include citing text evidence, using nonfiction text features, analyzing quotes, paraphrasing, summarizing nonfiction, identifying main idea and supporting details, etc.
Providing students a differentiated reading passage that they can easily read and comprehend allows them to put their energy into working on the target skill.
Nonfiction differentiated reading passages are also a very helpful resource for ESL teachers or special educators supporting their students in content area classes. They can be used to preview information and academic vocabulary these students will encounter alongside their grade level peers.
WHERE CAN I FIND DIFFERENTIATED READING PASSAGES?
There are many options for finding differentiated nonfiction reading passages. We have differentiated reading comprehension passages available in our TpT shop for reading levels 3-5. Each topic comes with 3 reading levels that focus on the same academic vocabulary words, and use the same reading comprehension activities.
Each of our passages come in a printable, or interactive Google Slides format. The printable and digital are available to purchase separately or together.
Below is a list of free websites that can be used to find reading passages at varying reading levels. Some do require an e-mail sign up:
- ReadWorks: This is a HUGE collection of nonfiction and fiction reading passages, including a collection specifically for ELLs. There is a search option to find articles on tons of topics that you could be studying in class, and you can search by Lexile or standard. Students can play audio that reads the article aloud to them. Highlighted words can be clicked on for a student friendly definition in English, as well as a Spanish or Chinese translation for the word. Students will need to sign up with an e-mail address in order to access the free reading passages.
- National Geographic Kids: Tons of great free videos and nonfiction reading passages for kids that are very high interest with beautiful visuals. They are especially great for researching specific animals.
- Highlights Kids: Fiction stories and short nonfiction texts with visuals. The website is geared to younger kids and could be appropriate for up to around 6th grade.
- Scholastic News: If you scroll past the paid magazine subscription, there are free articles that change periodically. These are great because they have helpful visuals and nonfiction text features, as well as a text-to-speech option. You can even select reading level “on level” or “lower level” as an added level of differentiation. There is also an option to “open magazine view” in Spanish or English.
- Scholastic Student Activities: Search by grade level and resource type (games, listen and read, etc.) to see different topics currently available for kids. The “Listen and Read” passages are great, because they are read aloud and presented as a book displaying a small amount of text with a visual on each page.
- CommonLit: Reading passages for 3rd-12th grade. You can search by grade level, Lexile, genre and standards. They also have reading passages available in Spanish. Many of the passages can be read without a login, but to access the read aloud or translation features you do need to create a login with an e-mail address.
- Smithsonian Kids: Nonfiction texts and games on tons of topics in history, social studies, and current events.
- DOGO News: These are high interest, current events articles. Students can click on vocabulary words to see their meanings. In the paid version they can have the articles translated to Spanish or read aloud to them.
- Newsela: These articles cover a wide range of topics including sports, arts, science, economics, etc. The passages can be read aloud, and there’s a feature where you can change the Lexile on a specific article to make the same content more accessible to lower level readers. Although they do offer some articles without a login, you need to create a free login to access all of the articles with your e-mail address.
Need more resources for differentiated informational texts for students? Check out my TpT shop!