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Zinc-Led Remote Learning Unit Plan: Reading Sprints
Zinc-Led Remote Learning Unit Plan: Reading Sprints

Let us do the work!

Kate Hannum avatar
Written by Kate Hannum
Updated over a week ago

Want to use the next three to six weeks as an opportunity to get students excited about reading, while equipping them with tactical skills for understanding complex texts? If so, you’re in the right place! 


Zinc’s Reading Sprints are an ideal solution for remote learning. With a couple of clicks, your students will have access to a comprehensive assignment, lasting either three or six weeks. These Sprints cover all elements of Zinc. First, students take a Level Placement, allowing us to determine what they should be reading for the perfect amount of challenge and support. Next we create weekly assignments that combine reading authentic texts, learning new vocabulary words, and completing interactive close-reading video lessons. At the end of the Sprint, students will take a second Level Placement to assess growth. 

Watch a two-minute video overview of Sprints here.


  • Make sure your student accounts are set up and that students know how to log in. 

  • Let your students know they can find your Sprint assignment by logging in to their accounts and clicking on the red dot in the top right corner of their screen.


  • Short comprehension quizzes accompany all Articles (authentic texts), while Close Reading Experiences include scored checks for understanding throughout.

  • Students will take a Zinc Level Placement at the start and end of the Reading Sprint, unless they have taken a Level Placement within the past ninety days.

  • Zinc has seven reading levels, from fourth-grade level up to college. Here is the breakdown:


  • The Comprehensive Sprint will take students about two to four hours each week, depending on whether you choose the three-week or six-week Sprint. (The three-week Sprint has more assignments each week than the six-week one.) The Light Sprint will be about one to two hours each week. We recommend assigning the Comprehensive Sprint. Please note that these times are based on what we’ve seen in a typical classroom setting; there may be more variability with students working from home.

  • To increase completion rates, let students know when they should be working on their Sprints. Should it be during regular class time? Is the Sprint considered a homework assignment? Can students complete it at their own pace (for example, can they do it all on Monday and Tuesday?) or do you want them to do a little each day? Have a plan in place to avoid kids falling behind and feeling overwhelmed—which can happen quickly, since new assignments keep coming each week.

  • Internet access is required. Sprints don’t work on iPads or phones. Our full tech requirements are here.

  • How to assign a Reading Sprint:

  • Log in to your Zinc teacher account

  • Click on “Dashboard” in the top left corner of the screen

  • Click on “Reading Sprints” at the bottom of the dropdown menu

  • Click “Assign Reading Sprint”

  • Choose between a three-week or six-week Sprint

  • We recommend assigning the Comprehensive Sprint, but if your students have limited time, the Light Sprint—which only includes a Level Placement and Close Reading Experiences—may be a better choice.


  • Track progress and performance in Zinc’s Reports section. There are two ways to do this:

  • From the dropdown menu in the top left corner, choose Reports, select Student Reports and then navigate to the Student Performance Report. Type in the name of the student whose work you’d like to view. This will give you an in-depth look at their performance.

  • For a whole-class view, from the dropdown menu in the top left choose Reading Sprints and then click View Progress to monitor which students have completed which activities. From there, you can click on a student’s name and access the Close Reading Experience reports too. 

  • In our beta testing of Sprints, more than half of the participating students went up at least one Zinc reading level.

  • Please note that Zinc’s seven reading levels are broad, so staying at the same level after completing a Sprint doesn’t mean that a student didn’t grow as a reader. (See level chart above.)

Pro Tips (Read these for Zinc extra credit!)

  • Did you know that Zinc has a leaderboard? Students can view their stats within your class or school, or even across all Zinc users around the globe. This fun competition helps to engage many learners. Some teachers call out students who have made big leaderboard gains. Other educators track their top Zinc-ers. The great thing about the Zinc leaderboard is that it offers a level playing field. The top readers aren’t necessarily at the top of the leaderboard—the students putting in the most time and effort are. Access the leaderboard from the dropdown menu in the top left corner of the screen.

  • Do you want to give kids the option to extend their Sprints and add more writing practice? If so, as long as you’re assigning the Comprehensive Sprint, you can direct students to complete the Writing Prompts that accompany each article. The Writing Prompts are written outside of the Zinc platform, for example, in Word or a Google doc, and you’ll need to have students submit them to you for scoring. 

  • Do you want an in-depth look at your students’ reading comprehension? If so, be sure to check what they typed as their predictions for the multiple-choice questions accompanying the authentic texts. (Zinc transforms what could be a passive multiple-choice quiz into something much more active by requiring students to enter their answer predictions for the questions before we reveal the multiple-choice options. Learn more about this approach in this ninety-second video.) To review predictions, go to Reports and choose to view a Student Performance Report. 

Go to the Articles section and click on the rectangle quiz icon to see a student’s full performance.

  • Are your students reporting that they can’t complete the assignment because of technical difficulties? If so, we recommend asking them to send you a screenshot of the issue, so that you can verify. Also, you can let them know that they can contact our Support team by clicking on the help chat icon in the bottom right of the screen.

  • Do you need technical support? If so, you can also use the help chat icon to connect with our support team. And if you want to register for an online Zinc training or request access to a recorded walkthrough, please complete this form

  • Do you want to personally choose the Close Reading Experiences, vocabulary sets, and authentic texts that your students work on? If so, Reading Sprints might not be the best option for you. But no worries, you can easily customize your own assignments. Look out for our Teacher-Led Remote Learning Unit Plan for ideas on getting started. 

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