How many hours do you spend planning each week? This is one of the biggest challenges new teachers face. Since you do not have years of prior lesson plans to refer to, it can be easy to spend hours every week writing lesson plans and researching the perfect activities that align with the standards. In my New Teacher Survival Guide, one of the tips I share is the importance of finding your go-to resources. Rather than spending hours searching Pinterest for ideas, just go straight to your favorite sources. To help you get started, here are a few of my favorite ELA resources!
Free ELA Teacher Websites
Several years ago, it was a challenge to find free passages and books to use in the classroom. Today, the internet is full of both free and paid websites for teachers and students to use. But, with all the options available, it can be hard to know which are the best. The following websites are not only free, but they are also some of my favorite ELA resources.
Before I wrote this post, I surveyed hundreds of teachers on social media to find out what their favorite ELA resources are. The number one response I received was Newsela. Newsela provides current event articles that can be used as part of reading activities and lesson plans. Articles on the literacy website are written at different reading levels and a search tool is provided to help you locate articles that best meet the needs of your students. Without a subscription, access to Newsela is limited, but there are still plenty of articles available with the free version.
Epic! Books for Kids
Are you looking for free books for your classroom? Look no further than Epic! Epic! has a digital library of picture books and novels. Best of all, access to more than 35,000 titles is completely free for teachers!
ReadWorks provides a treasure chest of literacy resources for teachers. After registering for ReadWorks, teachers are given access to leveled, nonfiction passages. Teachers can select and assign passages to students based on the reading level of each student. Each passage comes with vocabulary and a self-graded assessment.
Like several of the other resources on this list, CommonLit provides leveled, nonfiction passages that can be assigned to students. The thing that makes CommonLit different from some of the other literacy websites is that these passages and questions most resemble what students might see on standardized testing. There are also options for students to highlight the text as they read, which is one of my favorite features.
Dreamscape is entirely different from every other website on this list because it is a video game that helps students practice reading skills. As students play, the game even identifies the reading level of the students, adjusting passages and questions accordingly. Reports are also sent to the teacher, updating you on the students’ progress. This information can also be used to help you make decisions about what to teach during whole group and guided instruction.
Paid ELA Websites for Teachers
The two ELA resources listed below do require a subscription to use, but I have found them to be well worth the money. I have personally paid for subscriptions to both of these services. Each resource enhanced my instruction and simplified my planning. If you do not have funds to purchase one of these subscriptions, there are other teacher websites you can go to for help! One year, I received a year subscription to Time for Kids for my entire class through a Donors Choose request.
Time for Kids
Time for Kids is one of my absolute favorite ELA resources! Every week, students receive a magazine with current event articles. I use the Time for Kids magazine at least one day per week for whole group or guided instruction. Students also use their magazines at ELA centers throughout the week. At the end of the week, they are able to take their magazines home. Many of my students do not have access to reading materials at home, so having something they can keep and take home each week has been huge.
One of my favorite aspects of Time for Kids is that a subscription also comes with a weekly digital version of the magazine. During instruction, I am able to open the digital version on my SMARTboard. Then, I am able to have the articles read to students. Also, when clicking on the images, videos appear that provide further information about the reading.
One of the biggest struggles I have with teaching ELA is that my students have not been exposed to large vocabularies. Therefore, they struggle to recognize and comprehend words when reading. Flocabulary has been a solution to this problem.
Flocabulary uses music and interactives to help students expand their vocabularies. The program also comes with worksheets and assessments. I often use Flocabulary activities as part of my Word Work center.
ELA Classroom Worksheets
If you’ve ever read my guide on how to effectively use technology in the classroom, you know that I am a fan of finding a balance between digital and print resources. Studies show that students retain some information better when it is displayed digitally and other information is retained better when it is displayed on paper. For this reason, I always give students a combination of digital and print reading activities throughout the year. Here are some of my favorite print ELA resources.
Daily 5 for Upper Elementary
Today, I love using Daily 5 to teach ELA in the upper elementary grades, but this has not always been the case. When it was first introduced to me, I thought it was too “primary.” Then, I had the opportunity to attend a conference with the creators of the Daily 5. There, I learned strategies for effectively using the ELA teaching strategy in upper elementary. In my Daily 5 resource for upper elementary, I show teachers how to make Daily 5 work in their classroom and provide the resources needed to set up Word Work and Work on Writing Stations.
Pre-Made Writing Prompts
It is important for students to be writing every day, but it can be a challenge to come up with writing prompts every week. So, I took the time to create 140 writing prompts that I use throughout the year. I made each writing prompt available on a worksheet, a task card, and a digital worksheet. This gives me options when I go to present each writing prompt throughout the year. Preparing my writing prompts at the beginning of the year has saved me TONS of time and has made planning so much easier!
Reading Skills Worksheets and Activities
Upper elementary students have lots of reading skills to learn throughout the school year… inferences, main idea, summarizing, context clues, etc. With so much information to keep track of, I like to make sure students have an explanation and examples of each skill nearby at all times. So, I created reading skills interactive notes and worksheets. I use the interactive notes during guided instruction to introduce new reading skills. Students store these notes in their binders and reference them when working at a reading center. Then, I use the worksheets in conjunction with books and passages that we read throughout the year. These reading worksheets have been a helpful tool for my students!
Planning for ELA takes time, but having go-to ELA resources will down cut down on your planning time. I recommend selecting at least three ELA resources that you like and trust. Those resources can be digital or print. Then, when you are creating your ELA lesson plans, go straight to your go-to resources for activities and ideas. Don’t waste hours searching Pinterest unless your go-to resources are missing what you need. Following this simple tip can save you hours every month!
If you are also in need of great go-to math resources, be sure to check out Math Resources for New Teachers!
Are you looking for even more teaching tips and strategies? Be sure to download my FREE New Teacher Survival Guide. The guide outlines 15 proven strategies known to help first-year teachers have a successful first year. If you are new to teaching, you definitely want to know these time and money-saving strategies!
And, if you are looking for even more tips and strategies for first-year teachers, be sure to check out the New Teachers page on my blog!