4 Ways to Use CommonLit to Support Differentiation

A student wearing headphones and listening to a CommonLit text read aloud.

Innovative ways CommonLit supports differentiation in the classroom

Differentiation — a buzzword in education that can mean many different things. Small-group instruction. One-on-one support. Different versions of the same homework packet. The list goes on and soon the hours of data analysis and lesson planning pile up.

We all want to do the best by our students and give the most targeted, rigorous, and data-driven instruction we can.

Here at CommonLit, we hear you. Our goal is to make planning for differentiation as easy as possible so that you can focus on helping students. Here are four ways you can use CommonLit to support differentiation.

1. Turn on Guided Reading Mode for select students

Guided Reading Mode is a feature on CommonLit that supports student comprehension. When you enable Guided Reading Mode, students are prompted to stop during reading to answer basic multiple-choice comprehension questions. These questions are meant to be “checks for understanding” that help struggling students slow down.

A short video showing how choosing a correct answer in Guided Reading Mode reveals the next section of text.
Enabling Guided Reading Mode allows students to have multiple attempts at “check for understanding” questions throughout the text.

Guided Reading Mode helps with differentiation because you can enable or disable it for individuals, groups, or entire classes. It works great for small-group instruction because you can easily circulate the room and monitor comprehension while groups work at different paces. On the Assignment Report Page, teachers can see how many attempts it took each student to get a specific guiding question correct.

A chart showing student data for guiding question responses.
On the Assignment Report Page, teachers can see how many attempts it took each student to get a specific guiding question correct.

2. Encourage students to use the “Read Aloud” feature to improve fluency

Every CommonLit reading passage comes with the “Read Aloud” feature. This can be a helpful way to support students who struggle with fluency. The best part is that students can pause and restart the audio whenever they need — or repeat a section as needed.

In a differentiated classroom, students can use headphones to listen to their own text read aloud.

3. Facilitate small-group reading

After completing a few lessons on CommonLit, your student performance page will be full of data broken down by individual standards. Using data from Guided Reading Mode, assessment questions, and even student annotations, you can begin creating small-group and whole-group lesson plans.

A chart showing student data for CommonLit assessment questions.

Use this data to group students by standards that they need extra support on. Then, filter our library by specific standards that you want your class to get extra practice on. Once you decide which lessons you want your students to complete, group students in a whole-group setting in smaller groups to complete the lesson together. Then, provide individualized attention and scaffolding to the students that need it most as you circulate around the room.

4. Support ELL students with our translation tool

Every CommonLit lesson can be translated into 25 different languages. Students can press the “globe” button in the top right corner of their assignment page, then choose their preferred language and start translating any paragraph. For students who are learning English, this feature can help support growing their English vocabulary and comprehension.

A video showing how to turn on the Translation tool in the lesson "Martin Luther King, Jr."
Students can press the “globe” button in the top right corner of their assignment page, then choose their preferred language and start translating any paragraph.

Additionally, CommonLit has a Spanish library with over 400 lessons, 93 of which are available in both Spanish and English (click here for our top recommendations). For students who are native Spanish speakers, teachers can support students by doing a first read in Spanish and then completing a close read with the English version. Research shows that students who are learning to read in a second language can use the comprehension skills they learned in their native language to support skills development in their new language.

Next Steps

The CommonLit team is here to support you and your students!