resources for SLPs to find high-interest nonfiction reading passages to use with 3rd-8th grade
Have you noticed a push for using nonfiction and informative texts with our students? Standardized assessments and the Common Core both emphasize familiarity and use of informational texts. As a result, I have been attempting to focus more on using news articles and other informative texts with my students this school year.
Nonfiction passages are also great because they provide ample opportunity for progress monitoring. You can have students use context clues to figure out what vocabulary words mean, predict what will happen next, infer feelings and actions, answer comprehension questions, retell what they learned, paraphrase the article in their own words, identify the main idea by coming up with an alternate headline, and practice articulation targets. Whew, talk about a one-stop shop! Here are my go-to FREE resources for finding high-interest nonfiction reading selections for 3rd-8th grade students.
This website is great. It has tons of articles about a variety of subjects. When you click on an article, there are many options to help students:
Underneath the headline you can click the "CCSS" button to see how this passage can be used to address critical thinking skills, vocabulary, and writing for various grade levels. The "NAS" button matches the article up with National Academy of Science Standards. The blue grade levels button tells you which students the article is appropriate for. Click the green "word search" button to complete a word search of vocabulary words from the article.
DOGOnews also has wonderful vocabulary tools. A floating list of vocabulary words always stays in view even as you scroll up and down the page. Each vocabulary word within the article is hyperlinked - just click the blue word to see its definition. Love that feature!
Other superb features include comprehension questions and critical thinking questions to complete after reading, and hyperlinks to geography locations mentioned in the article.
Newsela is another go-to resource that should be bookmarked on all your computers/tablets. You can register for a free account to access this entire site. A neat thing is that you can set up classes of your students if you'd like. If you do that, you can assign articles to students and you can see their answers to the writing questions. I haven't tried this feature yet since we go over articles together in our therapy sessions.
The absolutely best feature of Newsela is that you can adjust the reading level of each article. Just click on the lexile levels in the blue bar on the right hand side of the article. When you adjust the lexile level, the grade level and word count information below the title of the article will change (see the picture above).
Some articles have writing prompts or quizzes, which can be accessed in the blue pane on the right-hand side of the screen. The quizzes are great because they address main idea, summarizing, recalling details, and defining vocabulary from context!
There are many other useful kid-centered news sites out there, but these two are my favorites and most-used. Others include: