Neda Anasseri: Hello and welcome, everyone. Excited to get started with virtual instruction with CommonLit. My name is Neda Anasseri, and I am the Technology Projects Coordinator for OTAN. This webinar is being recorded. Thank you so much for attending. And I'm handing it over to Rob from CommonLit.
Rob Fleisher: Hey there. It's great to meet all of you. Thanks so much for coming to today's training. I'd love to just give you guys a little bit of background on myself. And I'll have my co-presenters introduce themselves as well. So my name is Rob Fleisher. I'm the Director of School Partnerships at CommonLit. And before I worked at CommonLit, I was a middle and high school special education teacher. So I'm just really excited about our program and telling you more about how CommonLit supports students of all ages all throughout the United States.
And I'm here today with two my colleagues, Bryn and Amanda. And I'll have them just quickly introduce themselves as well.
Bryn Bogan: Hi everybody. As Rob mentioned, my name is Bryn. I run our District Success Team at CommonLit. And I work with a lot of our school and district partners that are looking to train their teachers and roll out CommonLit. So I'm excited to be with you all today.
Rob Fleisher: I'd love to just first just start off by-- oh sorry, Amanda. I thought we lost you.
Amanda Riddle: No it's OK. Hi, I'm Amanda. I'm on the school partnerships team as well. I used to teach for special education at an early elementary. I'm really excited to get to know you all today and looking forward to seeing your questions on Q&A.
Rob Fleisher: With that, we're just going to start off with a very quick agenda so you know what to expect from today's training. First, we're just going to start by doing a brief overview of CommonLit. We'll take a little bit more about our literacy resources. Then we'll walk through the website. And we'll start by choosing a great lesson from CommonLit's platform. We'll show you some of the different lessons that CommonLit offers. Then we'll do some work where we'll show you how to create a class and get your students set up on CommonLit.
Then we'll talk a little bit about what it's like to assign a lesson to students. What does it look like from the students platform? What are the lesson planning resources that a teacher has access to, as well, we'll cover. And then we'll talk about what it's like to grade a lesson. What data do you see as a teacher? What data do the students see? How can they track their own progress? And then we'll finish up with just some next steps and ways that you can get started with CommonLit.
So just a little bit more about CommonLit. CommonLit is a completely free reading program that has over 2,000 reading lessons in both English and Spanish. It's completely free for students, and teachers, and families. The way that it works is that you can choose a lesson from our website. We have short stories, poems, nonfiction articles. The difficulties of these lessons starts at a grade level 3 equivalency. And it goes up to adult level literature. We'll talk a little bit about what's included in the library in a little bit.
You can download just about any lesson from our platform. You can also share every lesson on CommonLit with your students through the CommonLit platform. Each lesson comes with lesson planning resources for teachers and a series of tools that students can use to help scaffold instruction and help them effectively read CommonLit's reading lessons.
The next is that students and teachers can both track their progress on CommonLit. Teachers are able to complete all of their grading through our platform. You're able to track student progress on a lesson and then also, across a school year. And we'll talk more about those features as well. Finally, CommonLit also has just about 500 lessons that are written in Spanish. And the vast majority are from authors who were born in Mexico or Latin America.
I'm going to go ahead and jump now to the CommonLit library. And we'll just explore some of the different resources that CommonLit has to offer. First, you'll notice that CommonLit's English library has over 1,500 reading lessons. Then, as I scroll down here, you're going to see just some of the most popular texts on CommonLit on this first page.
You'll see poetry from great authors like Tupac Shakur or Langston Hughes. You're also going to see great short stories by contemporary authors like JK Rowling, or Roald Dahl, or Shirley Jackson, or Langston Hughes. You're also going to find really great informational texts about influential people or important events in history like the Holocaust, or Jackie Robinson, or Malala. So a really great mix of informational texts and literary texts-- it's about 50% of each in the CommonLit library.
On the left-hand side of the page, I can browse the library in a variety of different ways. I can search by lexile level. I can sort by the grade level difficulty of a text. I can also search by things like historical topics or by literary genres. I can search by a particular theme of a text or by a Common Core standard. So there's many, many different ways that I can browse the resources to find the perfect text that I'm looking for.
What I'll do for today's purposes is, I'm going to search for a text that's between 1,000 and a 1,200 lexile. Specifically, I'm going to look for a short story. And this is going to give me 49 possible texts. What I'm going to do for today is, I'm going to choose the text "Raymond's Run." It's a great short story that's one of my favorites. One thing that makes CommonLit reading program really effective is that it comes with a lot of really great lesson-planning resources with each lesson. And the lesson-planning resources that you'll find with each lesson are very similar from lesson to lesson. So you know what to expect.
At the top of the page, you're going to find a series of tools to support you. The first is paired texts. Paired texts are other texts from CommonLit's library that share a similar theme or topic. What we do is, we take those other texts, we provide a little bit of background on that other text, and then provide some questions to help you and your students compare and contrast those texts to one another.
We also offer related media. Related media are usually videos, sometimes a song, or sometimes a slide deck that help to introduce or provide an extension to the lesson. We also provide an answer key. And that's available to teachers after they register for CommonLit and verify that they're an adult.
If I go back to the lesson now, I have a couple of choices. The first thing that I can do is I can download the lesson. Just about any lesson on CommonLit can be downloaded. If I download it, it's extremely easy to use. You'll see here that there is the reading passage. At the end of the story, you'll get a series of multiple choice questions that you can give to your students. These are all standards aligned. And there's often a writing question as well. And then there is a series of discussion questions. The discussion questions that we offer are meant to be much more open ended and allow students to make a connection to their lives or to the world around them.
I'm going to go back to the text now. The other thing that you can do is, especially to support distance learning or to support online learning in general, you can assign a text through the CommonLit platform. So for today, I'm going to click the class that I would like to assign this to. I also have the option to assign a lesson to individual students. But for today, I'm going to assign it to my whole class.
In this box here, I can customize the directions or what I want students to take notes on as they're reading the text. So I could tell students exactly how I want them to complete the assignment, what I want them to take notes on, in this box. I can also turn on a feature called Guided Reading Mode. Guided Reading Mode is one of CommonLit's most popular features. It's provides students with a series of scaffolded questions to support their comprehension as they read. It helps them hone in on the main ideas as they go through the text.
Then just this past week, we released another feature that allows teachers to give the flexibility of assigning just the multiple choice questions, just the writing questions, all of CommonLit's questions, or none of CommonLit's questions. So it just gives teachers a little more flexibility when working with their students. For today, I'm just going to assign the writing question.
And then finally, I'm going to choose a due date. I'll say that the assignment should be due next Friday. If your students are using lessons on CommonLit and they happen not to complete the lesson by that date, they could still submit the assignment late. But when that assignment is submitted, it's flagged for you that the assignment came in past the due date.
I'm going to go ahead and I'm going to click the Assign button. Bryn and Amanda, are there any questions that we should address to the group?
Bryn Bogan: One question that did come up that I wanted to make sure to highlight, that Rob, you covered a bit in the beginning of the presentation is, there were some questions around what is CommonLit? Who are we? And who has access to our program? We are a nonprofit. We're a 501(c)(3) nonprofit. And our mission is to provide this website and associated resources completely free for teachers and students around the country and the world.
So all the teachers you work with and everyone on this call does, or should have access to our reading program. We'll show you later on, if you have any questions, how you can get in contact with our support team. But please know that this will always be free for you and your students.
Rob Fleisher: So now I've assigned the lesson to my students. And now I'm logged into sample student account. I want to show you a little bit about what it looks like to complete a lesson on the online platform.
So as a student, actually first what I'll do is, I can go, if I'm a student, to my performance page. I can see how I've done on previous assignments. So I can see how I've done on all the lessons that I've already completed. I can also see all of the lessons that I haven't turned in yet that I need to work on.
And then at the bottom of the page, I can also track my progress. I can see how I'm doing by a standard on all of the CommonLit lessons that I've completed. So I've completed three questions on RL.1. And I've gotten them all correct. So I know I'm really doing really well on that standard. But I could look at a different standard, and I could see that I'm not doing as well on that standard. So it's just a way for me to track my progress.
If I'd like now, I can go back to my assignments. And I'm going to go ahead and start that lesson that my teacher assigned me. I'm going to click on the assignment. A couple resources to point your attention towards-- at the top of the page, so three really important tools. The first is called Read Aloud. Students can listen to the text read to them. So I click on this button. I'll play this out loud.
Website Audio: --much work to do around the house like some girls. My mother does that. And I don't have to earn my pocket money by hustling. George runs errands for the big boys and sells Christmas cards.
Rob Fleisher: So I can listen to the text, or I can listen to the questions on the side of the page. I can also translate the text. CommonLit offers digital translations in 27 different languages. So I can choose the language that I would like to translate the text to. I'll choose Chinese. And I could read the text in Chinese as I read the text in English.
Finally, I can also take notes on the text as I read. So I can say here, the main character is describing her life. And all of these notes that I take, my teacher will be able to see. I can also highlight portions of the texts, if I'd like, too.
Now, what you'll see here on the right is what we call Guided Reading Mode. These are the questions that I mentioned a little bit earlier that appear for students to help scaffold their comprehension of the text. So let's see. I believe the right answer to this question is C. Yes, so I got this right on the second try. After I got it wrong the first time, I was prompted to look back at the text. All of the wrong answers that I make here are recorded for my teacher so that they can track my comprehension of the text as I'm reading.
If I continue to scroll through the text, I get a little bit further. And then I get that question right on the first try. And then I'm able to move right along. And my teacher sees that I comprehended that part of the text really well.
So within the text, we provide some definitions and footnotes. You'll see here, we define the word fit, because it's an unfamiliar definition of the word. We also provide a footnote here for the term stagecoach, since we know it's a term that some folks might not be familiar with. At the top of the page, you can change the size of the text.
So now, we'll pretend that I have completed this lesson. And I'm going to go ahead and I'm going to stop sharing my screen. I'm going to switch back to my teacher platform. I'll do that in one second. So now I'm back on my teacher platform. I'm going to go ahead and I'm going to pretend that I'm now ready-- that my students have completed the last lesson, and I'm going to go ahead and begin grading their last assignment. So I am going to go to my classes. And I'm going to click on my first block class, because I want to grade their assignments.
And the lesson that my students most recently completed was The Lottery by Shirley Jackson. So I'm going to go to View student annotations. Here's where I can see all the notes that students took as they were reading the text. I could see what Corey's note was, as he was reading this part of the text. And I could comment back on his notes to provide him with feedback or to push his ideas. And it's really easy to use. Like here, I'll tell-- and I can give them that feedback to push their ideas forward.
Next, I can go to the grading page. All of the multiple choice questions are going to grade automatically on CommonLit as soon as students complete it. But we do prompt teachers to grade the writing questions. And remember, there's usually one or two writing questions per assignment.
You'll see here that we provide an exemplar response. So you can review these as you're grading your students' writing. Then here, you'll see all of your student writing samples stacked up. And then you can easily score students from a scale to 0 to 4. And if you'd like, you could even provide a little bit of optional feedback to tell students how they can improve upon their work. I'll click Save.
Now that I've graded all of my students writing, I can go ahead and click on the button here at the top that says View Assignment Report. The View the Assignment Report is one of the coolest features on CommonLit. You're able to see, in detail, how your students did on one lesson in a really easy-to-comprehend way. At the top of the page, you can see how your students did overall. I could see that my class average was an 81. I could see how students did on the multiple choice compared to the writing. And I could see who did really well on the assignment and who kind of struggled.
Here's where you can see how students did on the guided reading questions. These questions are the ones that students answer as they read. And I could see here that for a student, perhaps, like Angela's, she got almost every question right on the very first try, which shows that her basic comprehension of the text was really strong. She probably understood just about every main idea in the story.
If I look at a student here at the top like Shawn. Shawn got about half of those questions wrong on the first try. And it suggests that maybe his basic comprehension of the story was pretty weak, and he might need to reread a portion of it. Or that this text might have been a little too hard for him.
If I scroll down a little bit further, I could see how students did on the Standards Aligned questions that they get at the end of the lesson. With these questions, you can see how each student answered each question. You can see how students did on the writing. And I can even send a lesson back to a student if I want them to give another try because they struggled on this assignment. I can also see when students submitted the assignment. And if students submitted it after the due date, I would see here that their assignment was late.
Next, if I go back up to the top of the page, if I go to student performance, one of the last really important features to check out is, you could also see your grade book from across the school year. So if I look at my Block 1 class again, I can see how this class is doing overall. I can see that my students are doing better on literary texts than they're doing on informational texts. And I can see how students completed each assignment of the year.
One last feature is that I can also go into an individual student's report. And I get a full report that I could print off that tells me how they did on each assignment. And this is obviously really, really, really great for report cards or progress reports that you might be filling out for students.
With that, I'm going to go over to our Manage Classes page. This is when you create an account on CommonLit, this is the page that you'll be brought to. And this is where you'll be prompted to set up your classes on CommonLit. You'll want to click on the button that says Create a New Class.
After you click on this button, there are really two different ways that a teacher can set up their classes on CommonLit. You can click on the button that says Import Classes from Google Classroom. We highly recommend this feature. Teachers who use the Google integration with CommonLit-- it tends to be a really, really smooth integration that helps promote the usage of CommonLit.
It does a few things. The first is that as a teacher, you can sign in with single sign on, as can your students. You'll all be able to access your CommonLit accounts with a single sign on. So students won't have to remember their passwords.
The second is that you can import your classes directly from Google Classroom, which means that if you have your classes set up there, CommonLit will take a copy of those classes. So each student doesn't have to go ahead and create their own account.
Third, you can post any CommonLit lesson to your Google Classroom stream, which makes it really, really easy to disseminate lessons to your students. And then finally, you can integrate your CommonLit grade book with your Google Classroom grade book. So any of the grades that students accumulate on CommonLit will also populate in your Google Classroom grade book.
We do not have a full integration with Canvas. However, what you can do is, with any CommonLit lesson, you can post those in Canvas. And it will route students to complete their lesson on CommonLit. However, we don't have a full integration.
If you don't use Google Classroom and need to set up your classes a different way, you can use the Create a New Class Manually feature. Once you click on that button, you'll complete some basic information about the class. You'll name your class. You'll save the grade level of the students that you teach. And then you'll receive a class code. With a class code, that's how students will join your class. So students will go to CommonLit. And then they'll click on the Create an Account button. After they create an account that has a name and password, they'll enter the class code. And with that class code, they'll be routed to join your class.
That pretty much wraps up today's presentation. Are there any additional questions or things that I should address to the group Bryn or Amanda?
Bryn Bogan: One important thing to highlight-- I've seen a few questions regarding this. If you try to sign up for CommonLit, during that process, it asks you for your zip code to identify your school. If you do not see your school when you enter your zip code, please email email@example.com. I will send that to everybody in the chat box. If you email firstname.lastname@example.org and give the zip code name of your school, our team will help set that up for you to make sure you can create your account. If you're the first person from your school, this sometimes can occur. So please, if you have any questions or if you have any issues when setting up your account, please email email@example.com, which Rob has also shared on the screen there.
Rob Fleisher: Just to highlight Bryn's point, this might be particularly the case. Because we have all of the schools that are traditional K12 public schools, we might not have some adult education campuses in our database. So please just email firstname.lastname@example.org, and we can help facilitate the creation of your account in a very, very short amount of time.
Bryn Bogan: Here's a question. Is there a report that shows class and student performance by Common Core standard?
Rob Fleisher: Yes, there is. I can go back and I'd be happy to go ahead and show that.
Penny Pearson: Bryn, this is Penny. I have a quick question that might help some of our audience members, as well. On that previous answer, you said about entering a zip code and not potentially finding an adult education campus. Some of our schools are associated with K12 districts. So if they searched for that first, might they then have a better chance-- it may not be the adult education school. But it would at least be their K12 district that they're associated with.
Bryn Bogan: Yes. So chances are, if they are associated with a K12 district, we will actually already have their school set up for them. If they would like and they want to enter the zip code of their school district, they can sign up at a different school in their district. There's not a problem there. But if they do want to be associated with their adult education campus, if it is not already showing up on that dropdown list, our team is more than happy to set it up for them.
Penny Pearson: Thank you very much.
Rob Fleisher: On the screen right now, this is the Student Performance tab. Whoops, sorry about that. Underneath the grade book, you can see this chart. This tells you how students are performing by Common Core standard.
So for example, there have been six questions answered about RL.6 in my class. And my students are getting 100% of those questions correct. Whereas, with RL.5, students are scoring 81% in my Block 1 class. And then you could see those for all of the Common Core standards that students have been assessed on here.
Bryn Bogan: The next question we have here is, can you show again the button where you create a class?
Rob Fleisher: And click on the Create a New Class button?
Bryn Bogan: Yes. Perfect. So if we close out of that, Rob, just to highlight that once more for everybody. When you log into CommonLit once your account is set up, if you click on the My Classes tab at the top of the page that we see there and then select Manage Classes, you'll be able to see the Create a New Class button to set up your class.
There is another question-- is this program friendly or accessible with cell phones?
Rob Fleisher: That's a really great question. It's something I forgot to address. CommonLit is extremely mobile friendly. There is just one feature that doesn't work on a phone or tablet. Students can't annotate the text on a phone or tablet, or really, on any touch screen. However, on a mobile device, everything else works perfectly fine. Students can read the passages, answer the questions, everything like that.
Bryn Bogan: Another question that came up-- can I just post the lesson PDF to my Google Classroom, if I would like?
Rob Fleisher: That's a really good question too. That's completely fine. It's perfectly OK for teachers to post PDF lessons in their Google Classrooms. If you work at a district level or you support multiple schools, we have some restrictions around that. You can just email email@example.com if you are looking to post any lessons online for more than just your class of students.
Bryn Bogan: The next one I'm seeing here is, could you please show again, for everybody on the presentation, how students can annotate the text as they read?
Rob Fleisher: Yes, sure thing. I'm just going to switch my view for a second. So now I'm going back to my student platform here. And here, all I have to do is just high highlight a portion of the text and then click the T button. And then I can say The main character has a brother named Raymond. And I could save that note. And then just as a reminder, teachers will be able to see any note that students make on the text.
Bryn Bogan: Could you also show-- there is a question again to show how students make the font bigger.
Rob Fleisher: I can change it up here at the top of the page.
Bryn Bogan: There is a question, basically, how do we go about setting up an account?
Rob Fleisher: What I'll do is, let me open up a different browser. So I'm opening up a new browser. And I'm going to CommonLit. And I won't be logged into an account here. So since I'm not already logged into this account, I'll have the option, when I get to this page, to click the button that says Create free account. And then if I'm an educator, I will just click the Educator button. And then here, I'll enter my zip code. So I'll enter a zip code. And then that's going to give me the options for the schools that are in that zip code.
And from there, I just provide a little bit of information about myself. And my I provide my email address for my school, create a password, and then there's a couple questions after that. And then I'll be able to create my class. And just to reiterate would Bryn said before, if you don't see your class on that list, just please email firstname.lastname@example.org. And our support team will help you right away.
Bryn Bogan: One of the two remaining questions I want to cover live is there's a question about whether there's a pre-assessment that you can use to determine a student's reading level.
Rob Fleisher: That's a really good question. This is a feature that we only have live on the site. Or this past year, we launched it. And then we kept it live on our site from roughly September through November of the year. We're going to relaunch this feature for the beginning of this upcoming school year. Each pre-assessment on CommonLit has about 20 to 25 questions. And it will tell you whether your students are performing compared to the students who took an assessment at that grade level.
Bryn Bogan: And the last question for everybody-- could you highlight again how students access their accounts? There are two questions regarding how students set up their accounts on CommonLit and whether they are the same accounts the teachers have.
Rob Fleisher: Great question. So let me switch back to my student account. So here's the home page of CommonLit. If I'm a student, I'm going to go to the button here that says Login. And if I'm a student, I can enter my username that I get. I'll know my username once I register for CommonLit. And then I can enter my password. And then I can manually enter my CommonLit account.
If my school uses Google and my teacher imported my class with Google Classroom, then I won't even need to enter my username and password. I can just click the Login button. If my school uses Google and my account was created with a Google account, I can just click this Log in with Google button. And that will route me into my CommonLit account.
Bryn Bogan: We really do appreciate everyone joining us today. To quickly re-emphasize from the beginning of the call, we're a non-profit. So it is completely free for your team to use our resources. We're excited to support you and your students in any way that we can, especially during what we know are some pretty unprecedented times right now with this unexpected transition to remote instruction.
Rob will share his screen again with the different support pages or the different emails you can use to reach our team. I'll also be sending a few resources, including our FAQs page in the chat box. So you can copy that if you want to access our FAQs page at any point. Great. I'm going to go ahead and--
Penny Pearson: And then Rob-- sorry, Rob, this is Penny Pearson again. I know one question that's come up, and I know it is near and dear to the hearts of our adult educators here in California, regarding your back-end database of tracking students as they're working online. And that's a time-on task feature. I didn't notice it when you were showing the screen. But as far as I could tell, CommonLit does not have a How much time did a learner spend on a particular lesson. Correct?
Rob Fleisher: No. The only data around time that we reveal is when the student submitted the assignment.
Neda Anasseri: Thank you, Rob. Everyone, we're very happy that we were able to share this resource with our California field. This is exciting for adult ed. And I'm so happy that CommonLit is supporting our adult educators and our adult students using this program.
Bryn Bogan: Thanks so much again for having us today.
Neda Anasseri: You're welcome. Thank you.
Amanda Riddle: Yes, thank you so much.
Neda Anasseri: We hope to collaborate some more in the future.
Rob Fleisher: Same here.
Penny Pearson: Oh, I am sure our adult educators in California will be happy to provide with ideas and recommendations. They're usually pretty vocal about things like that in a very positive way. So I think they'll definitely want to see some new features, if at all possible. So keep your programmers busy, I suppose.
Rob Fleisher: Sounds good to me.