Blog Post #4 Fruits from the Field

by Amy Miller

Newsela is an incredible resource that all classroom teachers should be made aware of. For those just starting in the teaching profession, I encourage you to open a Newsela account and receive the daily email that includes the “front page” articles.

What is Newsela? It’s a web-based site that pulls articles written by journalists at “The Washington Post”, “Scientific American”, “The Guardian”, and from the “Tribune Content Agency” and adapts them for students. Articles from these various outlets is presented on the website using five different reading levels: 3rd grade/590 lexile; 4th grade/690 lexile; 5th grade/850 lexile; 7th grade/1000 lexile; and 12th grade. There is no better way to put primary sources in students hands, and it’s all free!

Other features of the site include the ability for teachers to import their class list using Google Classroom and assign readings, track reading history, as well as overall performance of their students. Quizzes and writing prompts can be assigned and shared from the teacher’s account. Users can create their own library of articles and create text sets to be used for specific units. There are Text Sets already created for: Science, Literature, Spanish Language (articles in Spanish are clearly marked ES inside a green circle), Social Studies, State, and Election. Full disclosure, I’m not a fan of adding my students’ accounts to outside sites so I don’t. But I regularly print articles for my students to use. I encourage them to use the site as a resource too. Here’s a list of the topics you’ll find within the site: Opinion, War & Peace, Kids, Money, Law, Health, Arts & Culture, Issue Spotlight, Dream Jobs, Myths & Legends, Biographies, Famous Speeches, Science & Math, Religion & Philosophy, Government & Economics, World History, Sports, and U.S. History. There’s something in there that interests you, right? Relates to the content you’re teaching? Would be of interest to your students?

Differentiation has NEVER been this easy. Everyone can read the same article, but at a reading level that is appropriate for them. I have witnessed struggling readers participate in whole-group discussions with a heightened level of interest, engagement, and pride; knowing everyone has just read a version of the same article. Working to incorporate the amount of nonfiction texts the CCSS expects is both manageable and with the use of these news sources, it’s also immediately relevant to our students’ lives and the world they live in.

Sign up for an account, familiarize yourself with the content, its delivery and how you can save articles of interest to you. It’s definitely something you’ll want to carry forward with you into your own classroom.

Common Sense Media provides a review of this site. Here is their summary of Newsela:

PROS An innovative tool for delivering high-interest, cross-curricular nonfiction texts to students, right at their reading levels.

CONS Expanded search and recommendation features could help kids connect with articles tailored even more to their interests and reading levels.

BOTTOM LINE Up-to-date, high-interest articles meet kids right at their levels: Use this robust tool to bolster students’ nonfiction reading practice.


One thought on “Blog Post #4 Fruits from the Field

  1. Amy, This is a wonderful resource! I agree with you that I wouldn’t integrate my class list into this website, but I would use it – to recommend individual readings based on student interests and their reading level. I think as teachers we sometimes forget the power of an individualized recommendation. When I was in 3rd grade, my social studies teacher recommended a book called the witch of black bird pond. Little did I know that it would be my favorite book and an inspiration for my first 207 page novel. This would encourage students to read, and search for more information. With the help of the track reading history option I could see all of the articles they’ve read for research and ask them to compile them on an unassigned/unscheduled reading log- that they have the power to control. In order to scaffold their development even further, I would ask them to create critical thinking questions that I could then turn into writing prompts for students who are also reading the same or similar articles – to answer. Depending on what grade level they are in- these questions can collect data of their ability to dissect, analyze , comprehend, summarize, synthesize, and evaluate news articles- using their student created questions- instead of having to constantly create my own. And the students, could create their own library of articles and create text sets to be used for specific research projects. And then I could compile that list- so they could take all of their research with them – to high school if they wanted to. There are Text Sets already created for: Science, Literature, Spanish Language (articles in Spanish are clearly marked ES inside a green circle), Social Studies, State, and Election.



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