Annotations, Google Classroom Gradebook, & More: What's New on CommonLit

A teacher and students sitting at a table working on CommonLit lessons.

An Overview of the Best New Features for the New School Year

It’s August, that hazy summer month when the air is mixed with the smell of barbecue, sunscreen… and new dry-erase markers and books. While (we hope!) teachers were able to spend most of their summers recharging, we at CommonLit were busy improving the site to make your return to school smooth and stress-free.

Over the past few months, we’ve released some exciting new features and content. These updates:

  • Allow students to engage with text in a deeper, more meaningful way through annotations and highlights
  • Improve the Google Classroom experience with our new Gradebook integration, making it easier for students to find assignments and teachers to keep track of grades
  • Provide both teachers and students with a greater understanding of individual student performance through in-depth data reports
  • Include a wider assortment of Spanish and culturally relevant content

Read below for more information and check out our linked in-depth articles about each update.

Annotation Tools!

Students can now close-read CommonLit assignments with saveable highlights and notes.

CommonLit is excited to announce that we now support saveable annotations! Students can highlight and add notes to their assignments, while teachers can model annotations for students and track student annotations in real time.

Years ago, when we set out to make the highest-quality open educational resource imaginable, we asked teachers what pen and paper could do that our digital tools couldn’t. There was a resounding consensus: annotations! We took that answer to heart and got to work.

Now, teachers can encourage students to use their pen-and-paper annotation skills on the digital screen. This not only encourages best practices in reading, but also makes it easier for teachers to use CommonLit digitally and give students access to many of our other on-screen supports: Guided Reading Mode, Read Aloud, Translate, and data tracking.

The CommonLit lesson "Mother to Son" with student annotations.
Our annotation tool lets students save highlights and notes on their digital assignments for them and their teachers to review later.

Inspired by the usability of annotating on Google Docs, our Annotation Tool will be familiar to students. And because we designed it from scratch, it works with all of our existing digital tools.

To learn more about our Annotation Tool and best practices for using annotations in the classroom, read our blog post, “3 Ways to Effectively Use CommonLit’s Annotation Tool with Students.

Google Classroom Gradebook Integration!

Teachers and students now have easier access to CommonLit assignments and scores.

There are so many digital tools these days, it can be overwhelming to keep track of student assignments and grades across multiple platforms. That’s why we integrated with Google Classroom. In the past year, we released an integration with Google Classroom that allows teachers to easily post CommonLit assignments to students’ streams, track assignment completion in Google Classroom, and export CommonLit scores to the Google Classroom Gradebook.

Our Google Classroom Gradebook integration not only makes it easier for teachers to track CommonLit assignments — it makes it easier for students to access them and follow their own progress. You can learn more about our full Google Classroom integration here.

Directions for ways teachers can share CommonLit assignments to Google Classroom.
Students can easily follow along with their CommonLit assignments on Google Classroom.

Improved Individual Student Performance Reports!

Teachers now have access to data reports that provide a deeper understanding of student performance.

We know data-driven instruction is important, but it can often feel nebulous to teachers in their day-to-day work. Even when teachers can see classroom trends, how do they turn those into actionable differentiation tactics for individual students? Our individual student performance page helps teachers dive deep into every student’s individual learning experience.

Our individual student performance page contains:

  • Assignment score breakdowns
  • Assignment completion monitoring
  • Writing and feedback tracking
  • Standards performance data

And they’re easy to print for parent teacher conferences, in-service data dives, or student portfolios! Learn more about the individual student performance page here.

A student performance page with data for a student's CommonLit assignments.
Students and teachers benefit from improved performance pages for individual students.

Hundreds of new Spanish reading passages and tools!

Browse our library to see a wider assortment of Spanish content.

The CommonLit Español library has added more than 300 texts in the last year! Find high-quality reading lessons from authentic Hispanic authors across all genres including STEM, biographies, poems and short stories. Check out the 9 texts were highlighting to start off the new school year.

We’re also excited to announce the launch of “Related Media,” now available for more than one third of our Spanish texts!

Related Media resources in the CommonLit Español lesson "La historia de Filomena."
Spanish content now comes with related media for teachers to access.

Tell us what you think!

We hope you and your students like our new content and tools! Since we are always improving our site, we’d love to hear your feedback. Drop us a line at feedback@commonlit.org. If you want to learn about new features as we release them throughout the school year, be sure to sign up for CommonLit updates here.

Happy teaching!