How I Use It
Current Events are a major part of my social studies classroom. However, often students are confused when reading traditional news sources because it is written for adults. Newsela makes it easier for students to read stories at a level that they understand. The website publishes a few articles a day during the school year based on current news topics. Each story has multiple Lexile levels for the students or teacher to select from. Most of the stories also have a quiz to check for comprehension of the story. The quick four question check is based on ELA CCSS. Most of the questions are multiple choice, but there also some to select a body of text to support a statement. This is helpful for teaching to read deeper than just looking to match a phrase. The difficulty of the quiz is also based on the level of the passage. Successfully completing the quiz earns students points, which is motivating to students. Teachers can delve deeper than the daily stories. You can also search the archives based on topic, grade, or reading standard, so this tool would be good for subject areas other than Social Studies too.
Creating an account was easy as a teacher. For students, they do not need an email, just a code provided by the teacher. The website offers a free version and a pro version. When you sign up you automatically start your Pro Trial. I wish this had happened during the school year instead of the summer so I could really experiment with actual students. The pro version offers options for assigning stories and tracking student performance and progress. All of these features are accessed through the ‘Binder.’ The navigation of the website beyond just reading the articles was not common sense, but the help section was useful. Even just relying on the free version, I see lots of potential benefit in the classroom. I am left with my initial concern, when you first go to the website it states “You have four articles remaining.” There was no mention of the limit once I registered, and I hope to have many more than four opportunities to present current events to students in terms they understand.