Showing posts with label Actively Learn. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Actively Learn. Show all posts

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Actively Learn - Find & Create Engaging Reading Assignments and More

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post that I wrote for a new supporter of 

A few years ago I stumbled upon Actively Learn while walking through the ISTE conference. I was immediately impressed by what they were developing. At that time it was just getting started as a new platform through which teachers can create, distribute, and assess ELA activities. Since then Actively Learn has expanded to offer a catalog of thousands of free assignments with embedded media, standards-aligned questions, scaffolding notes, and teaching ideas for science, ELA, and social studies.

There are three key elements of Actively Learn that I really appreciate. First, it’s easy to locate interesting and engaging articles, videos, and simulations to share with your students. You can locate resources in the Actively Learn catalog by searching according to subject, topic, grade level, standard, or Lexile level. Second, unlike some other services, Actively Learn doesn’t limit you using their pre-made questions. You can easily add your own questions to the materials that you distribute to your students as assignments. Third, Actively Learn can save you time by automatically grading any multiple choice questions that you include in your assignments.

Here’s an example of how you could use Actively Learn in a science class. Open the Actively Learn catalog and find the Cells Topic page, which includes a variety of assignments related to cells. Some of the assignments are based on excerpts from textbooks, high-interest news or journal articles, videos, and PhET simulations. All of the assignments and articles have notes in the margins to describe concepts that may be challenging to students and standards-aligned embedded questions. Additionally, you can add your own notes into the margins for your students.

You can distribute an assignment to your students through Actively Learn’s classroom environment or distribute it through Google Classroom or Canvas. Throughout the assigned reading there are questions that your students should answer. You can edit or remove the pre-made questions. You can also add your own questions for students to answer. Take a look at the screenshot below to see the students’ view of an article. Watch this video for an overview of what a student sees in Actively Learn.

One of the options that I appreciate about Actively Learn’s online assignments is that students can flag sections of an article with "I don't understand" comments.

Actively Learn offers free and paid plans. The free plan includes all of the core features of Actively Learn including:

  • Locate materials according to subject, grade, standard, or Lexile level.
  • Customization of any of the instruction in Actively Learn (edit questions or notes).
  • Upload any Google doc, website, video, or PDF and turn it into an interactive assignment with your own embedded questions and notes.
  • Give feedback to students as they read and get real-time data on student reading progress.
  • Automatic grading of multiple choice questions.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Actively Learn - Create, Distribute, Assess Reading Activities

Actively Learn was one of my favorite discoveries at the ISTE conference this week. Actively Learn provides teachers with a platform through which they can create, distribute, and assess reading activities.

To get started on Actively Learn first register for an account then create your first classroom within your account. Students join your Actively Learn classroom by entering a class code at After creating your classroom you can begin adding reading assignments to it.

To create an assignment in your Actively Learn classroom you can select from thousands of articles arranged by topic, grade level, reading level, and length. Some articles have comprehension questions built into them while others do not. You can add reading comprehension and or discussion questions to any article that you select from the Actively Learn library. You can also upload your own articles as PDFs.

Once you have selected an article and added questions to it, distribute it to your students through your Actively Learn classroom. Students can read and respond to questions directly within the Actively Learn platform. You can require students to answer questions before the next section of an article is revealed to them. In addition to responding to your questions, students can flag sections of an article with "I don't understand." As the teacher you can see those flags and respond to them in your Actively Learn classroom.

Actively Learn has free and paid plans. The free plan includes unlimited assignments and unlimited access to a gradebook. The paid plans provide more tools for analyzing how students work with text beyond responding to your questions.