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Sunday, March 22, 2015

Helpful Literacy Tools for Students: Newsela

The Common Core State Standards has emphasized that our students need to read more non-fictional texts; however, finding appropriate articles to meet the needs of our students can be difficult. Just this past weekend, I was introduced to Newsela by a friend of mine, who has used this in his elementary classroom; however, this tool could be used in any middle school or high school classroom too!

What is Newsela? 

Newsela is a free (and paid) current event resource with articles that adapt to the needs of the students. There are dozens of articles related to science, money, law, health, and sports. Teachers have the ability to customize each article to fit the needs of your students. There are five different versions of the same article that are divided by reading lexile level, which provides the appropriate amount of challenge to meet the needs of our students (Multiple Means of Representation). There are also several interactive components, where you can embed quizzes and writing tasks within the article for students (Multiple Means of Action / Expression). 

How Does it Work? 

After creating your free teacher account at www.newsela.com , you will be asked to create a "class." Students will be able to sign up for this class by creating a free account and entering an enrollment code. Creating a class will allow you to share articles, create assignments, etc.; however, you do have to have the paid version of the website to view student progress. 

I totally understand that companies have to make money; however, I was disappointed that had to have the Pro (paid version) of Newsela to access many of the advanced features. You are given a free trial period; however, 30 days is certainly not enough time to experiment with your classes. 


How Can I Use the Free Version for My Students? 

Even though many of the great features (like viewing student progress) Newsela are only available if you pay, there are still many useful ways of using the free version with your class. 

  • You can have students read the article and choose their own lexile level. Not great, but still very useful. 
  • Choose your lexile level and use the Print feature of the article to generate a PDF version of the article, which can be printed or saved as a PDF. 

2 comments:

  1. What a cool blog you have here. Thanks for sharing. Unfortunately I don't have much time for Internet surfing right now cuz I'm currently busy with all my college assignments.

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