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New Raz-Plus and Reading A-Z Close Read Passages—February 2019

18 Passages Added

Ideal for teaching 21st century skills, Close Read Passages from Raz-Plus and Reading A-Z help students think critically, uncover layers of meaning within a text, and deepen their comprehension with scaffolded questions. These 18 new passages address fun topics, from new kinds of grades to phones in school.

Handy Parrots

Handy Parrots

Level: M
It’s rare for animals to use tools. In 2015, scientists in England observed greater vasa parrots using rocks as tools to grind seashells (they need the calcium in the shells to form their eggs). The next step is to find out if these birds also use tools in the wild!

Who Needs Grades?

Who Needs Grades?

Level: W
Instead of using typical letter and number grades, some teachers are using new alternative methods to assess their students and measure their progress and achievement. Some of these updated systems are based on whether students have mastered a topic.

What is Success?

What is Success?

Level: Z
How do you define success for yourself? Most people hope to be successful, but there are many different ways to define success. From completing a task to fulfilling your dreams, this passage explores various perspectives on success from great leaders.

The Tiger, The Brahmin, and the Jackal

The Tiger, The Brahmin, and the Jackal

Level: W
Ben, a young Brahmin man, helps free a tiger stuck in a ravine, only to have the tiger turn against him once he is free. When the Brahmin is shocked, the tiger reminds him that life isn’t fair. Luckily, a wily jackal comes up with a clever way to save Ben's life.

The Sisters Three

The Sisters Three

Level: Z
As he journeys to meet his Viking ship for a voyage, Halvor the Old is trapped in a snowstorm. He finds refuge in a cottage with three elderly sisters who happen to know his fate. Who are they, how did they find him, and how do they know his future?

The Receiver

The Receiver

Grade: 4
Vala "overhears" other people's thoughts—but only thoughts showing some kind of misunderstanding about the world. At first, she tries to intervene, but eventually she starts to wonder whether some of them would be better off without her help.

The Parade

The Parade

Level Z2
Powerful sorceress Gruhelga casts a spell making a magical green or gold orb appear over everyone's head. But soon these orbs create problems, dividing people more than ever. Will people learn from Gruhelga's lesson? Or will they stay divided?

The Flying Spider

The Flying Spider

Level: P
Cobb the spider learns from another spider that she can use her silk to fly on the wind like a kite. She goes so high, she’s carried out to sea—but she can’t swim! Will she be able to use her newfound skills to land safely on the ship sailing past?

The Blind People and the Elephant

The Blind People and the Elephant

Level: P
Six blind people walking together down a road in India happen to encounter an elephant for the first time. Because they each experience a different part of the elephant, their descriptions of—and understanding of—the same animal vary greatly.

Telemedicine Treats Asthma

Telemedicine Treats Asthma

Level: O
A new study demonstrates how people suffering from asthma don’t need to travel far away to see a special doctor. They can visit a nearby doctor’s office and see the specialist via video, using digital tools. This kind of medicine is now called telemedicine.

Shortchanged

Shortchanged

Level: Y
According to a recent study, American parents are giving more allowance money to boys than girls. Boys are making about twice as much money as girls do! Why the huge difference? It seems boys are sometimes paid for doing things girls do already.

Second Sight

Second Sight

Level: Z1
A Japanese traveler stops at an inn, where he is told by the inn keeper that he owes her a vast sum of money. She says her father foretold this day would come. After thinking carefully over this issue, the traveler helps her understand her father's wishes.

Raise a Puppy, Make a Difference

Raise a Puppy, Make a Difference

Level: S
Assistance dogs need to be raised by volunteers until they are ready to complete their special training. This passage explains the things required of these puppy raisers, including classes, coaching sessions, meetings, ongoing training, and attending conferences.

Last of His Tribe

Last of His Tribe

Level: Z2
The Amazon rainforest in Brazil is home to many indigenous tribes. Learn about the problems the tribes face as their lands are threatened for many reasons, and about the efforts of the Brazilian government to help tribes stay unaffected on their native lands.

Kids Should Have Cell Phones in School

Kids Should Have Cell Phones in School

Level: W
This persuasive passage compares the benefits and drawbacks of students being able to have and use cell phones in class. The passage concludes that students should in fact be allowed to use cell phones in school, along with suggestions for appropriate use.

High Ropes, High Hopes

High Ropes, High Hopes

Level: Z1
This passage provides the personal narrative of one person's ability to courageously overcome her fear of heights in a high ropes course with the help of her class. In spite of a panic attack, she is able to recognize her fear and trust in her teammates.

Mysterious Monkey

Mysterious Monkey

Level: T
Mandy awakens one morning to find a monkey in her bedroom! Where did it come from? She decides to follow the clues to see if she can figure it out. Eventually, a newspaper—and some messages from someone on a recent safari—tell her the answer.

Asking Nicely

Asking Nicely

Level: T
Common devices in many homes, voice assistants are causing some parents concern that the devices are teaching children bad manners. Some companies have added features to the devices to encourage children to speak politely—but is it working?


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