Making readers of our students
I love using Newsela, although it hasn't always been my favorite. I didn't like the grading format of it, and some of the quiz questions are not always reliable. However, the more I use it, the more I like it. I think a lot of that has to do with making my expectations clear to students, as well as modeling and guiding them through the program. The more I see it from a student perspective, the more I can see where student confusion might come in (such as titles of articles changing across different lexile levels), and me being able to fix that on my end. Again, the more I use it, the more aware I become of this confusion, and the more I can fix it. I have seen a visible score difference in the way students now read and approach an article. Their short written responses have changed because I was able to educate them and train them on how to do that through this program. Can CommonLit do that, too? Yeah, to some extent. However, the texts aren't as timely, and they aren't at varied levels.
How I Use It
I have used Newsela to add in a variety of nonfiction texts to my English Language Arts curriculum. They are very useful when helping students learn how to identify the central idea of a text, as well as learning how to cite evidence to support analysis. However, in recent years, they have added fictional texts that I have been able to use for whole class instruction. Students can also annotate and take quizzes on here, and they can read at levels appropriate for themselves, which can help differentiate instruction. I often use Newsela to help pair nonfiction texts together, or as a research tool that students can use when we are writing informative and argument essays. I've also used it to help model to students how they should respond in a short-answer format.