How I Use It
Newsela is a tool that I have used for a few years in my English Language Arts classroom. I've used both the free and paid versions and would recommend both. Newsela allows students to have their own individual accounts that will track and monitor their progress. Newsela features articles on a variety of topics that you are more than likely already covering in your classroom. I love that I'm able to connect to other content areas in my ELA class. While we're studying earthquakes in science, I can easily assign Newsela articles covering current issues around earthquakes.
My favorite part of Newsela is how it tracks students' Lexile level and adjusts based on their needs. Teachers will need to provide students with their Lexile level and also explain what it means. When students first begin working on Newsela, they can read the articles and take quizzes on their Lexile level. After reading and completing at least eight quizzes, Newsela will begin to automatically adjust the Lexile level for the individual student each time they select an article. It will move their Lexile up or down, depending on that student's individual need and progress. Each student has access to their Newsela binder which stores their quiz scores, annotations, writing prompt responses, etc. It also graphs their progress. If your school is willing to fund the paid version, I would definitely suggest going that route. If not, it's still useful to use Newsela and your students could track their own progress as they complete articles and Newsela assignments.
Newsela is a fantastic tool to use in both an elementary and middle school setting. It's one of my all time favorite tech tools to use in the classroom. I've used the free version more than the paid version and have experienced success with both. My students respond well to Newsela and like the challenges they provide. Students of all different reading levels have responded well to this program. Some enjoy that it allows them to read on the computer, some like the interesting article topics, and some like seeing their Lexile improve over time. The only critique I would give Newsela is that all of the different features may not be available when using Newsela on a tablet or other device. In my opinion, it's best to use Newsela when working on a computer.