Newsela has some awesome new content that is of particular interest to social studies and history teachers. For those of you unfamiliar with Newsela, it is a website that adapts the text complexity of recent news stories to five different Lexile levels. Usually the lowest Lexile will correlate with early elementary grade levels, while the highest (generally the original article) will be about a 12th grade reading level. For this and several other reasons, Newsela serves many literacy needs for teachers and students.
Now, Newsela has more resources for studying the past and present!
Time Machine allows students to explore news articles from the past. Using time machine is great way to understand how events were interpreted at the time they occurred. They can also be rich secondary sources for text sets. Check out this article on the Lincoln-Douglas Debate from 1858.
One of the greatest challenges students face when reading primary documents is often the antiquity or formality of the language in some documents. Having students work through complex texts like these (with scaffolding) is often how students grow as readers. Newsela offers suggested annotations for many of these texts to help students hone their close reading skills. In addition, students can access less complex versions of the text to help support their comprehension of the original documents. Check out how Newsela supports students reading the Constitutional Amendments.
Just like reading primary sources, famous speeches can be interesting and engaging texts for students to analyze for rhetoric, bias, figurative language, and historical impact. Oftentimes, these rich devices can sometimes confuse striving readers, so Newsela’s suggested annotations and less complex versions can support students’ understanding of the main ideas and themes of these texts. Here is what Newsela has to offer for Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream.”
Students can learn more about important figures of the past and present with Newsela’s featured biographies. With the upcoming presidential election, Newsela has biographies on presidential candidates, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, as well as the vice presidential candidates, Tim Kaine and Mike Pence.
Issue Spotlight is a new type of text at Newsela. Essentially, Issue Spotlight gives an overview of a topic, much like a textbook entry. These articles are perfect for offering differntiated readings to build students’ background knowledge on a variety of topics in many different subject areas. A recent article discusses gun rights and gun control in the U.S.
Newsela helps us “differentiate with dignity.” If you haven’t used Newsela before, I encourage you to start exploring their site today. All of the new features can be accessed by clicking on Library on the tool bar at the top of the Newsela site.