One of my go-to tools for finding interesting informational texts is Newsela, and it has taken my district by storm. What’s so great about Newsela?
- Adaptation of Lexile Level
The biggest selling point for Newsela is that it adapts the text complexity of recent news stories to five different Lexile levels. Oftentimes the lowest Lexile will correlate with around a 3rd grade reading level, while the highest (generally the original article) will be about a 12th grade reading level. These various levels allow for scaffolding during close reading (by providing students access to easier text to clarify understanding of more difficult text), student self-selection of reading level, and the potential of adapting texts inconspicuously for different reading groups. Newsela helps us meet the maxim of “differentiation with dignity.”
2. Engaging and Recent Stories
Newsela posts new stories the day after they are in print in their original publications. Is there a story captivating the nation? There is a good chance you will find it on Newsela the next day. The stories come from reputable sources as well. Just a cursory glance today showed me articles from Scientific American, The Seattle Times, The Los Angeles Times, and Herchinger Report.
3. Content for Most Disciplines
Here is a list of categories you can search on the menu bar. War & Peace. Science. Kids. Money. Law. Health. Arts. Sports.
There is a nice variety. I have seen teachers artfully use Newsela in English language arts, biology, earth science, chorus, dance, financial math, and Spanish. Yes, Spanish! That brings me to my next point.
4. Articles Available in Spanish
A new feature of Newsela is that some articles are available in Spanish. In addition, the reading level of each article can be adapted in Spanish. This option not only benefits native Spanish-speaking students as a form of scaffolding, but it also provides adjustable content reading for the Spanish content area.
5. CCSS-Aligned Assessments
Most articles also feature a multiple-choice quiz that is aligned to the CCSS Reading Information Standards. There is also a writing component. English language arts teachers, especially, can choose articles by standards that they would like to measure in formative assessments. If your school opts for the Pro version, you can track student performance over time, but for those using the free version, printed quizzes could still give you information. One caveat here. Newsela does not teach these skills; that is the job of the teacher. But, Newsela does offer some cool tools to help you teach comprehension. Check out Point 6.
6. Digital Highlighting and Annotation
The teacher and students can highlight text on the free version of Newsela. They can also have two-way annotation conversations. These are useful tools for helping students monitor comprehension as they read or for having them read for a purpose aligned with your lesson’s learning targets.
7. Text Sets
You can search for text sets (pre-compiled sets of articles related to a unifying topic). English teachers love the Text Sets for Literature, which allows them to pair informational texts with canonical texts in order explore novels’ themes in a modern, real-world context. Examples of novel-themed text sets include The Giver, Of Mice and Men, and Macbeth. There are also text sets related to other content areas. Some example text sets include “Animal Einsteins” and “Bringing an End to Bullying” (awesome way for a counselor to use Newsela!).
If you haven’t used Newsela before, I encourage you to start exploring their site today. If you are already a Newsela user, I’d enjoy hearing what you love about Newsela in the comments.