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: