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Ignition

Raise your students' reading levels with this interactive journey!

Updated yesterday

All active Ignition assignments will be cancelled on July 31, 2024. Watch for an improved Ignition experience coming in August!

Based on feedback from our teacher users, we’ve streamlined Ignition to better fit your classroom schedule and your students’ interests. Coming in August, you’ll see a new Ignition experience designed to be completed in two weeks, with upgraded reports that let you track progress more easily. Students will see more choice in the topics they want to read, and additional “power up” activities will keep everyone engaged for the whole two weeks, regardless of individual pacing through the Ignition skills. You'll be able to assign Ignition as soon as our new version launches in early August!

Ignition is a hyper-differentiated, student-paced series of lessons on Zinc's four essential reading skills. Students start by taking a Level Placement that determines their starting level. Then, they make their way through passages and questions, working with increasingly difficult texts and getting extra instruction and practice if they reach a skill that challenges them. Once they've completed all their required levels, they'll take a final Level Placement.

We created Ignition because we often hear from middle and high school teachers that they need more resources for teaching reading comprehension. Struggling students need to be able to read grade level texts, and all readers should be prepared to access college-level texts. We've identified four key skills that we've found have the biggest impact on reading comprehension:

  • Use Your Senses: tapping into sensory words and phrases

  • Make It Real: connecting real examples to abstract ideas

  • Pronouns: tracking pronouns to their antecedents to stay connected to the writer's point

  • Navigators: following the signals and layers authors create to make meaning

Our shared goal — among Zinc, teachers, and students — is reading comprehension growth. We believe that by meeting students where they are, and guiding them at their own pace, Ignition can make a difference.

Assigning Ignition

You can assign Ignition to individual students or your entire class in less than five minutes! Each student may be assigned Ignition twice a year. We recommend beginning each semester with Ignition using a two or four-week implementation plan.

To assign Ignition, click "Assign Activities" in the middle of the top menu and then click "Ignition."

You will now be on the Ignition assignment page. From here, you can assign Ignition, view past Ignition assignments, track student progress, and cancel Ignition assignments. To continue, click the green "Assign Ignition" button in the top-right corner.

Clicking the button makes a pop-up appear. Select whether you want to assign Ignition to an entire class or classes or individual students.

If you select the option for classes, you may choose one of your active classes from a drop down menu. If you select students, begin typing a student's name to select them. Once you've entered all the classes or students, just click "Assign Reading Ignition Unit." Your students will now see the assignment on the dashboard of their Zinc homepage.

The system may alert you that a student did not receive an Ignition assignment. This may occur if a student has an ongoing Ignition assignment or if they have recently completed Ignition. If a student received an Ignition assignment from another teacher, you may follow their progress and view their results with your class's Current Ignition Report.

Time to Complete Ignition

Most students complete Ignition in 60 - 90 minutes. We recommend students spend 10 to 20 minutes a few times a week, over the course of two to four weeks. In our tests with students, we found 10 to 20 minutes to be manageable for daily assignments. See below for example scheduling and implementations.

Ignition is designed to allow students to work at their own paces. As a result, they will likely be in different places of their progression at any given time. Don't worry, Zinc has plenty to do for students who finish early!

Recommended Student Instructions

  • Once you assign Ignition, give your students instructions to complete the Level Placement and begin the first skill, Use Your Senses.

  • Let your students know that they'll see three progressively more difficult levels for each skill, and that they can't move on to the next skill until they've completed their three levels.

  • If Ignition sees that a student is struggling with a particular level, they keep practicing for up to two rounds at that level.

Previewing Ignition

It's easy to experience Ignition from a student perspective! This special preview allows you to try out various parts of Ignition. There are special options that aren't available to students to help you try everything out.

To reach the Ignition preview , click "Assign Activities" in the middle of the top menu. Under "Ignition," click "Try this as a student."

You'll now start Ignition as if you were a student. For more information about what a student will experience in Ignition, see below. The biggest difference between the preview and an actual assignment are the purple "Skip to the End" buttons. You can use these at any time to continue to the next part of Ignition.

You can even preview Ignition at a variety of reading levels. Once you reach the Ignition map, click the green "Start Level Placement" button. This will take you to an actual Level Placement.

You can complete as much or as little of this assessment as you like. At any time, click the purple "Skip to the End" button. The options to choose a specific Zinc Level will appear. Select the Level you prefer and click "Complete."

This Ignition preview will now reflect that Level. Each time you begin an Ignition preview, you may choose a different level (For more information about Zinc Levels and Level Placements, please click here.)

A Student's Journey in Ignition

  • Level Placements: Students take a Starting Level Placement as they begin Ignition and an Ending Level Placement after they complete all four skills. Level Placements take most students 15 to 30 minutes to complete. Remind your students to try their best! (If a student has completed a Level Placement in the last 6 months, they will not be required to take a Starting Level Placement.) Please note: Level Placements are mildly adaptive. If a student misses all questions on a level after Level 4, the Level Placement will automatically conclude. This means that more advanced students will see more passages and more questions, and their Level Placement may take longer to complete.

  • Surveys: Students will take a short survey about reading at the beginning and the end of Ignition. Their results will not be shared with teachers, but Zinc will use all the data to help make Ignition more interesting, effective, and targeted to the students who are actually using Zinc.

  • Skill Videos: Students watch a video explaining each of the four Ignition skills before they start the level. They can rewatch the videos if they need a reminder as they make their way through the required levels.

  • Required Levels: Depending on their score on the first Level Placement, students are assigned a starting Zinc Level. They then complete three passages at each skill: a passage at Your Level, a Goal passage one level above, and a Challenge passage two levels above. If a student is struggling at a particular level, Ignition will assign additional passages for more practice.

  • SWYKs: After students complete the first two skills, they complete a Zinc-ing SWYK (Show What You Know). Then, after they finish the third and fourth skills, they'll see a Tracking SWYK. SWYKs are made up of three short passages at three different levels, with five questions per passage. Each passage presents students with questions focusing on the skills they've learned so far, allowing students to Show What They Know.

  • Passages: In each activity, students will read the text on the left side of the page, then answer the questions about them. If they try to rush through the passage, they will be asked to slow down so they can really understand it.

  • Click on a Phrase: Some questions will ask students to click on words or phrases. Available phrases appear shaded in light gray. Students simply need to click on the desired word or phrase to submit their answer.

  • Drag and Drop: Use the cursor to drag a word or phrase in the passage onto another word or phrase. Phrases that can be dragged onto appear shaded in light gray. A green or red arrow will appear indicating whether students have made the correct connection. Students can also click on the desired second word or phrase rather than dragging and dropping onto it.

Track Student Progress in Reports

There are two ways to view Ignition reports in Zinc, the Current Ignition Report and the Assignment Ignition Report. The Current Ignition Report gathers information for all students in a class, while the Assignment Ignition Report shows information for a particular Ignition assignment.

Current Ignition Report

On the Current Ignition Report, you'll find details for the most recent Ignition assignment for every student in a particular class. This report is especially useful if you have a student who was assigned Ignition by a different teacher. Here, you can view every student's progress and results.

To reach the Reports page, click “View Classes & Reports” in the top menu on your Zinc homepage and then click “Reports.” Under "Current Ignition Report" select the class you’d like to view from from the dropdown menu. Then click the “Generate Report” to display the report for that specific class.

For details on the Current Ignition Report, please visit the relevant section of the Teacher Reports help article.

Assignment Ignition Report

You'll find Assignment Ignition Reports on the Ignition page. Find the class or student you assigned Ignition to, then click "View Report."

On the report page, you can see an overview of which skills your students have started, completed, and struggled with. Then, click the student's name to get level by level details.

Use the key to find out if:

  • Your students struggled on a particular skill or level (3 or more attempts)

  • Your students have completed their required levels (light green)

  • Your students are currently working on a level (yellow)

  • Your students have completed a bonus level (dark green stars)

Make note of a student's initial Level Placement, then track their progress as they move through their required levels. A red circle may indicate the student needs further attention in the skill area.

Once your students complete their final Level Placement, you will be able to see if they improved. Here is a breakdown of what Zinc levels mean.

Sample Implementation Plans

You're the expert on how Ignition will work best in your classroom! Here are some sample plans, based on 90 minutes total completion time:

Implementation Tips From Teachers

Here are a few favorite implementation strategies from current Zinc teachers:

  • Daily “do now” at the beginning of class, allowing the teacher to circulate and help students one-on-one or in small groups.

  • As practice in combination with direct reading instruction. For example, teach a reading skill using one of our Ignition Skills Mini-Lessons, then have students work on the corresponding skill in Ignition for 15 minutes.

  • Homework or remote work assigned either with a specific number of on-task minutes per day (15 minutes twice a week) or class-wide milestones due at the same time (e.g. everyone finishes Part One: Zinc-ing by Friday).

  • Want to celebrate your students and their hard work in Ignition? Consider awarding them with printable certificates!

Pre-Made Lesson Plans for Ignition Skills

We put together some slide presentations for each of the Ignition skills so that teachers can integrate the skills and terminology found in Ignition into their classrooms. The more on-board teachers are with this approach, the more effective the Ignition experience will be!

We're sure there are some edits you'd like to make, so these Google Slides documents are totally editable!

To do edit the Google Slides:

  1. Go to File > Download

  2. Choose the format you'd like to use (like PowerPoint)

  3. Make the changes you'd like on your version

  4. After your lesson, please send your version to support@zinclearninglabs.com so that we can synthesize the changes real classroom teachers have made and make improvements!

Printable Offline Ignition Activities

Here are some offline activities to reinforce the skills your students are learning in Zinc! These custom printables are perfect for assigning as classwork or homework.


We've also provided printable resource pages to help teach Zincing skills. We hope you'll find these pages valuable for instruction or as a classroom resource.

If you have someone who finished Zinc early or just needs a little more time with the material, these options have you covered!

Use Your Senses

Make It Real

Activate Pronouns

Navigate with Transitions and Punctuation

Celebrate Completing Ignition with Printable Awards

What If Students Finish Early?

Because Ignition is auto-differentiated, students working at different levels and at different paces. This leads to a variation in how long they take to finish all of Ignition.

If you have students who finish early, Zinc has plenty to keep them engaged! You can:

  • Allow students to browse and choose their own articles or Close Reading Experiences from their student dashboard

  • Pre-assign bonus articles or vocabulary of your choice to individual fast-finishers

  • Award extra credit for successful completion of additional activities

Grading Ideas

Grading on Completion

While monitoring to ensure students are making regular progress, give students targets and dates by which to complete each skill. While students are working on Ignition independently, have 1:1 conferences to discuss their progress, frustrations, and feelings of accomplishment. Based on how long it's taking your students to get through skills, set a final due date. If some students finish early, either ask them to complete bonus levels or explore their interests via Zinc articles and quizzes and self report their quiz scores to you.

Grading for Common Core Mastery

We built Ignition with the following parallels in mind:

Senses: tapping into sensory words and phrases

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.R.4 Interpret words and phrases as they are used in a text, including determining technical, connotative, and figurative meanings, and analyze how specific word choices shape meaning or tone.

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.1
    Read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; cite specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions drawn from the text.

Make it Real: connecting real examples to abstract ideas

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.R.4 Interpret words and phrases as they are used in a text, including determining technical, connotative, and figurative meanings, and analyze how specific word choices shape meaning or tone.

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.1
    Read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; cite specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions drawn from the text.

Key Images: identifying and making meaning from key images

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.R.4 Interpret words and phrases as they are used in a text, including determining technical, connotative, and figurative meanings, and analyze how specific word choices shape meaning or tone.

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.1
    Read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; cite specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions drawn from the text.

Pronouns and Antecedents: tracking who is doing what in each sentence

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.R.4 Interpret words and phrases as they are used in a text, including determining technical, connotative, and figurative meanings, and analyze how specific word choices shape meaning or tone.

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.1
    Read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; cite specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions drawn from the text.

Navigators: following the signals and layers authors create to make meaning

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.R.4 Interpret words and phrases as they are used in a text, including determining technical, connotative, and figurative meanings, and analyze how specific word choices shape meaning or tone.

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.1
    Read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; cite specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions drawn from the text.

Thank you for helping us make Ignition effective and usable!

Ready to start Ignition with your class? If you're signed into Zinc, you can follow this link to assign Ignition!

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