I think that my brain naturally looks for trends. Whether it’s on social media, in Flipboard magazine articles, or at education conferences, if I’ve heard about something more than a few times, my brain starts alerting me that I should try something new, already!
Newsela is one of those tools that kept turning up in educational discussions, and I finally decided to take the time to learn more about it.
One of the skills that needs some extra work at our school is summarizing non-fiction texts. Finding relevant non-fiction at an appropriate reading level for students can be difficult. This is where Newsela can be a huge help.
As a teacher, you can get a free account on Newsela, and set up an account with classes to which you can assign news articles for them to read. If you are an elementary teacher, you can choose the option for the elementary version of Newsela which filters out articles that might contain “mature content.”
Once you have a class, you can have your students sign up for Newsela using your class code. If your students have Google accounts, they can sign in using their Google credentials. (There is also a Chrome app for Newsela that you can add so students can access it more quickly.)
A teacher can find an article on Newsela, and then assign it to the class. You can search for it by grade level and/or reading standard, or just type in a topic and see what you get. Newsela also offers articles in Spanish.
After you select an article, you will see an option to assign it to a class at the top of the page. When the students of that class sign in, they will find that article has been assigned, and be able to access it.
Newsela allows students to read the articles at comfortable lexile levels. It also offers a writing activity for each article, as well as a quiz.
Another great feature of Newsela is its Text Sets. These are collections of several articles that support many well-known pieces of literature. For example, I found text sets for two books I read with my classes, Tuck Everlasting and The Giver. You can also create your own text sets by using a button at the top of each article.
The free version of Newsela is limited, as you can’t track your students’ progress on the quizzes, whether they’ve viewed the articles, or annotations they’ve made. Newsela Pro offers all of these options. You can view the comparisons of the free and pro versions here. It does not list the price of the Pro version, as you must request a quote from them. You can get a free trial for 30 days to try it out for yourself.