5 Great Sites for Student-Friendly Informational Texts

by Helen Beyne

sites for informational texts

You already know that one main mission of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) Initiative is to help students comprehend a wide variety of informational texts—nonfiction texts that inform readers about a topic. But with the vast amount of information available online, you might not know where to go to find appropriate informational texts for your students. The five websites described below are a great place to start.

1. Time for Kids
(primary, elementary, and middle school)

The articles on Time for Kids have been created specifically for students in grades K–6, introducing them to “high-quality nonfiction writing to build reading and critical thinking skills.” Topics include national and world news, science, and health. The articles address high-interest subjects, and many have appealing text features—such as “Are We Alone?,” which ponders the existence of alien life. (Note: Access to the site’s special features requires a subscription, but the full text of many articles can be accessed for free.)

2. Newsela
(elementary, middle, and high school)

Newsela presents daily news articles from a number of well-known media outlets, including the Los Angeles Times and the Associated Press. You can choose from topics including war and peace, science, law, health, arts, and sports. Articles are CCSS-aligned and are written at five Lexile levels, allowing students with varying levels of reading proficiency to analyze the same content in class. The free version includes student quizzes and one-click assignment of articles to class; a professional version (Newsela Pro) is available for a fee.

3. The Library of Congress
(middle and high school)

The Library of Congress (LOC) is one of the definitive online resources for primary-source documents. Oh, and it’s all free! Browse the site by topic to find materials on a range of different subjects, including American and world history; science, technology, and business; news, journalism, and advertising; and much more. A blog on the site describes how to use the LOC’s primary sources to address the CCSS; it also features teacher tools and a primary-source analysis tool for students. Also check out this article, which explains why primary sources are integral to the CCSS.

4. The National Archives
(middle and high school)

Another excellent place to access primary sources is the National Archives. This independent agency of the U.S. federal government has an entire Teachers’ Resources section devoted to helping educators use primary sources in the classroom. Use the online DocsTeach tool to find thousands of primary sources from different historical eras, including the Civil War and Reconstruction, the Great Depression and World War II, the postwar United States, and contemporary America. Find and create activities to “bring history alive for your students.”

5. The New York Times Learning Network
(middle and high school)

Need to find an engaging way to help students understand what’s going on in the world? Then check out The Learning Network blog from the New York Times. This resource features weekly lesson plans that use the newspaper’s content to teach current events. All content from The Learning Network, including any Times articles that are linked to, is free. To get started with The Learning Network, begin by reading How to Use Our Blog This School Year.

Have any thoughts on the sites above? Are there other favorite informational-text sites you’d like to share? Leave a comment below, or find us on Facebook and Twitter!

Helen bioHelen Beyne is a consultant for Green Light Professional Development. She has years of experience in creating innovative curriculum materials in reading, ESL, science, and social studies. She writes about IWBs and free online resources for teachers.

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