How I Use It
I have used Newsela in multiple ways in my classroom. I currently teach Digital Literacy to 6th grade students. Digital Literacy is a new reading curriculum that focusses a lot on analyzing informational text. One way that I use Newsela is by simply giving an article per week as a homework assignment. On Mondays, the students receive a hard copy of the article (it is also available on Google Classroom, but I cannot assume that all of my students have internet access at home) and 4 quiz questions about the article. The quiz questions are due back that Friday. The quiz questions are pre-made by Newsela, and they are higher-level questions that would be found on the PARCC assessment. When the students bring their completed questions back to school on Friday, we review the answers together. It really helps the students prepare for the PARCC assessment, but also forces them to analyze informational text on a daily basis. Another way to use Newsela within a classroom is to have students access articles they are interested in, and answer discussion questions about the articles in small groups. The discussion questions are pre-made by Newsela as well. I can then choose to grade the students' discussion, or have them answer the question in essay format and grade the written assignment. As you can see, there are a number of ways to use Newsela and assess student performance while preparing them for future assessments and keeping them connected to real world events.
I believe Newsela is a great teaching tool to use and I have found many benefits to using it in my classroom. One thing I like is that the questions are already created, and they are not simple multiple choice questions, but ones that actually make students have to go back to the text, analyze what they have already read, and then come up with the best possible answer. I also appreciate that teachers can see what grade-level would be best for specific articles. These grade level assignments are based on the Lexile range, and help me when choosing articles for my heterogeneous classes. Students also have access to the app/website, which allows them to search for articles they are interested in. This raises student motivation, and gets them excited to read a current event in something they are actually interested in. The only critique I have for using Newsela is that although it works well with Google Apps, it does not work well with other website types. For example, my school requires me to update Edline with work that is due (even though I also use Google Classroom). Edline is a website that keeps our students and their parents connected to whatever assignments are due and keeps parents aware of their child's current grades. Newsela articles do not easily save as Microsoft Word documents because the formats do not agree. Therefore, taking an article and making it a Microsoft Word document to add in Edline is somewhat of a process. However, I believe the many benefits outweigh this one negative of Newsela, which is why I recommend it for teachers to use as a tool in their classrooms.