How I Use It
I have a class setup and each student has an account attached to mine. Weekly, I search for articles that may enrich my science curriculum. When I find a piece that connects to an essential question we might be answering, I assign it to students. Typically, I do this for homework, but sometimes we read these articles together in class. Students are able to choose the level of reading they feel most comfortable with and are required to answer questions based on those articles.
When we use Newsela as a small-group assignment, I will print out articles at varying Lexile level and group students based on their reading level. In some cases, I may give a higher group two or three articles at a lower Lexile level and ask them to connect the themes. Or, I may give each group a different article to dissect and allow the whole class to find connections between the articles.
Once students complete the comprehension checks or the writing prompt attached to the article, their scores are loaded into the Teacher Dashboard. I can easily see which questions were most difficult for one student or the entire group/class. I can also see how these questions help to address specific CCSS reading standards, which is especially helpful for my students with diagnosed learning differences.
My student population is entirely exceptional learners, specifically those with diagnosed challenges in language. Newsela allows me to choose one article and make it accessible to ALL of my students, regardless of whether they're reading on a 4th grade level or a 10th grade level. Titles, vocabulary, captions, and number of sentences adjust based on the learner's need. There are not many tools with these accessibility features and I (and my students) are grateful for them.
Newsela recently added several science-specific text sets which has made searching for appropriate content incredibly easy. Since I began using it, they've also added a writing prompt to many of the current event articles, which has helped me gather data about how well my students are comprehending content heavy reading.
The Teacher Dashboard is easy to use and there are suggestions along the way as I assign articles to students. I can sort by reading standard to see my students' performance, I can see accuracy percentages of one student or the whole class in one view. I love that my students are not only accessing these current events at a reading level that makes them confident, but that I am also able to gather specific data about their comprehension abilities.
The only way I can think to make this tool better would be to add a quotation feature, where students would be able to highlight main ideas within their reading to directly respond to the text.