Finding the right informational text can seem daunting, but it is possible and can be very rewarding for both you and your students. Sometimes you’ll find the right piece with your first internet search; other times it can be a very time-consuming hunt. The key is finding pieces that your students will want to read either because they connect with what you’ve been doing in class or because they are topically interesting to them. So, here are some tips and resources.
- Get to know the New York Times Learning Network – written and edited by teachers, an enormous trove of lesson plans based on articles related to timely issues as well as commonly taught novels (be sure to check out their new “Text to Text” feature)
- Set Google news alert for topic-related key words
- Ask your school or local librarian for ideas
- Talk to your content-area colleagues to find out what texts they are using / topics they are teaching
Here are some quality resources that can cut down your search time (the codes next to each source indicate the grade level its content is most appropriate for: E=elementary, M=middle school, H= high school):
CURRENT EVENTS / ISSUES
- NYT Learning Network (M, H) — the excellent “Text to Text” feature pairs a literary text with a NYT article, along with discussion questions
- Newsela (E, M, H) — a service that offers recent articles from partner media outlets (e.g., Associated Press) in multiple versions aimed at a range of Lexile levels, along with quizzes and discussion questions
- The Lowdown via KQED (M, H) — lesson plans based on current events articles, particularly on topics related to politics
- PBS NewsHour Extra (M, H) — text- and multimedia-based resources on current events
- TweenTribune (M, H) — a wide array of recent news stories selected and posted by teens and tweens, working in conjunction with their teachers and professional journalists
- CNN Student News (M, H) — video news reports produced for middle and high school audiences
- Time for Kids (E, M) — current events articles, videos, and activities for elementary and middle school students
- DOGOnews (E, M) — original articles on current events, sports, books, and movies for kids
- Slate (H) — current event articles and thought-provoking opinion pieces, which often assume a high-level of background knowledge
- Kelly Gallagher’s AOW (H) — links to recent articles and lesson plans used by Gallagher in his high school classes during the current school year
- The Digital Textbook (H) — a collection of resources for teaching students how to read and write from a wide variety of texts created by Jim Burke
- CoreStand (E, M, H) — free service for teachers offering current events articles for elementary, middle, and high school students, along with templates for students to complete
HISTORY, SCIENCE, ECONOMY, TECHNOLOGY, and HEALTH
- Library of Congress (M, H) — a vast wealth of primary source documents and teacher-created lesson plans
- National Archives (M, H) — another trove of primary source documents and related activities
- EDSITEment! (E, M, H) — lesson plans featuring a wide variety of sources and disciplines from the National Endowment for the Humanities
- Facing History and Ourselves (M, H) — a wealth of resources to help teachers create thoughtful inquiry and dialogue about events and issues like the Holocaust, racism, slavery, etc.
- CommonLit (M, H) — an innovative project started by teachers that offers informational and literary texts on a wide variety of common themes, organized by grade and reading level.
- NewseumED (M, H) — several sets of text-based and visual primary sources from the Newseum’s collection, accompanied by interactive learning tools
- ReadWorks (M) — a variety of articles, activities, and units, including lesson plans featuring paired texts, aimed at supporting reading comprehension in middle school students
- TeachingAmericanHistory.org (M, H) — a project of the Ashbrook Center at Ashland University, this website offers 50 core historical documents, as well as professional development resources for teachers.
- Delancey Place (H) — this blog posts excerpts from an eclectic range of noteworthy nonfiction books on a daily basis
- PsychologyToday (M, H) — a reliable source for engaging articles of manageable length and reading level on a wide range of psychological topics
- ScienceDaily (M, H) — a great resource for brief news articles on the latest science discoveries and research
- Science News for Students (M, H) — original articles on developments in science, technology, and health written specifically for students
- Scientific American (M, H) — articles and features of varying length and depth on wide range of timely scientific topics and trends.
- Phys.org (M, H) — accessible articles on current developments in physics, nanotechnology, chemistry, astronomy, biology, and other fields
- Teens and Their Money (M, H) — the Motley Fool offers a series of entertaining articles for teens on various issues related to personal finance and investing.
- Business Week (M, H) — accessible current articles on the economy, finance, and industry
- Forbes (H) — wide range of accessible articles on the economy, finance, and industry, as well as tips for success in business and/or professional life
- TeensHealth (M, H) — student-friendly articles on health issues that affect them
- Wired (H) — articles on all things technology-related
- Wonderopolis (M) — informational resources focused on a “wonder of the day” featuring a wide range of topics
SPORTS and ENTERTAINMENT
- NPR music/entertainment (M, H) — archive of NPR’s music and entertainment-related stories
- Sports Illustrated for Kids (M, H) — sports news articles aimed at middle and high school students
Download a selected list of the above resources in a handout ready to share with your colleagues. Please add your own reliable sources for great informational texts in the comments below.