Newsela is a brilliant website and app that helps you to teach reading comprehension strategies through global news articles. I wanted to unlock its potential, so I registered for the online course and completed it last weekend. I am now a Newsela Certified Educator. As a celebration, I want to share its main features with you. As you read, consider how your students might benefit from it. If you really like what you read, you might want to sign up for the course yourself.
Everything that you read about here is available in the free version of Newsela. However, the Pro version definitely has some desirable additions. If you’d like me to explain Newsela Pro in a different post, let me know. For now, here’s an overview for your reference.
Set up: Once you have created a Newsela class, you can invite students by sharing the link or the class code. They can create login information or just use their Google account. Very easy.
Articles: Newsela adds four new articles every day based on current affairs. Every article on Newsela is available at five different reading levels and readers can adjust the level manually. This is a fantastic for teachers and students because they can all access the same content, without reading ability being a barrier. Every article comes with a comprehension quiz and a writing prompt. In addition, one article per day is also available in Spanish.
Assignments: When you find relevant articles, you can assign them to your students (great for homework). If you do not want students to see an article, you can click ‘hide’ and temporarily remove it from your students’ Newsela. This is useful if you know that you want to assign it at a later date. After students have completed eight quizzes, Newsela starts to automatically pitch assignments at their reading level (but the level can still be adjusted manually). Have I mentioned how much I love Google Classroom? Newsela articles can be shared to Google Classroom allowing you to assign them from there. This is particularly useful if you do not have the Pro version of Newsela, because you can personalise the assignments with instructions and follow-up activities.
Text Sets: Articles that relate to a similar topic can be collated in Text Sets (one of my favourite things about Newsela). You can search for existing Text Sets or create your own. For example, our class novel is currently Boy Overboard by Morris Gleitzman. It’s about a family that is treated badly in Afghanistan and flee to Australia. Although it is fictional, it is based on events that are, unfortunately, very real. I collated articles that connect the story to real life and this made it much more relevant and impactful. Follow the link to see my Boy Overboard Text Set.
Binder: Admittedly, the Binder is much better in the Pro version. The Pro version provides detailed progress data on classes, assignments and individual students. The free version allows students to access their assignments and teachers can use it to see class averages on each assignment.
I could keep going but I don’t want to make this post too long. The main features are outlined here and I’ll let you discover the rest.
I have always believed that students should be aware of current affairs. My class subscribed to First News when I was in the UK. They similarly create interactive content for teachers. If you have never used Newsela, I recommend that you give it a try. Let me know how it goes in the comments below. If you already use Newsela, I’d like to hear from you too. What are your experiences? What have I missed?