Teachers, Rejoice, You have Newsela!

Consider it the Internet’s gift to teachers—a free source of newspaper articles on topics of interest to adult students, available in a range of reading levels, from roughly 7th grade to 10th. There are hundreds of articles here, within the categories such as Science, Health, War & Peace, Law, and Money. One of the very best features is that teachers have access to articles on one topic that are on a variety of reading levels, so those with multi-level classes can still have all students in class read about the same topic.

These articles can be used in the classroom in a number of highly effective ways:

Choose and print articles related to content tested on the TASC for example:

  • In a study of evolution, “Animals are lots Bigger than they were Millions of Years Ago, study shows”
  • While learning about economics: “The Falling Price of Oil is both Good and Bad”
  • For a lesson on separation of church and state: “Some Turks say Government is adding religion to Country’s Schools”

As a prompt for writing.

  • Each Newsela article has a “Write” icon which provides students with a writing prompt for that article. The student responses can then be placed in a virtual binder for teacher review.
  • Pro/Con articles also provide ideal sources for the persuasive writing that students must do on the TASC. Sample Pro/Con articles: “Filling American’s need for Skilled Workers;” “Should U.S. Troops be Fighting Ebola in West Africa?”

Other teacher-friendly features of Newsela:

  • Click on “Learning and Support,” and find “Quick Links” that provide easy-to-follow directions for using some of its features such as “Write,” mentioned above.
  • The “Write Toolkit” includes a rubric teachers can use to evaluate student written responses
  • “5 Easy Ways to use Newsela” has some helpful lesson suggestions for teachers

Teachers love Newsela! A few comments:

“I have used Newsela in past semesters but only this semester discovered that they have added a Write button. After students read assigned article and take the quiz (if there is one) then they click on the Write button and are asked to write a paragraph identifying the central idea using two details to support it. Then they save it and I can go in later, read and comment and grade.

This is the first online platform where I have been able to do this. I highly recommend it.

Teachers can also filter for articles that focus on specific learning objectives and they can also filter for Pro/Con argument writing.”

–Jane Parkerton, Adult Literacy Teacher, LaGuardia Community College ALC

“I used Newsela yesterday in the computer lab and it was very successful. Students sent me their work and they enjoyed the science articles.”

–Angelo Ditta, Lead Teacher, LaGuardia Community College ALC

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About Kate Brandt

Kate Brandt is a Professional Developer in the adult literacy field in New York City and she loves her job. She loves her job so much that she commutes 2 hours per day, from her suburban home in Shrub Oak, New York, to get to work. She loves working in adult literacy because she gets to work with people who are smart, kind, and dedicated.

14 thoughts on “Teachers, Rejoice, You have Newsela!

  1. What I like about this resource is that students have an opportunity to check their comprehension after they are finished reading. It encourages them to go back to the text to look for the answers.

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  2. I love that Newsela gives you the ability to download up-to-date news articles at different reading levels. I wish I had known about this when I was teaching pre-GED reading to young adults.

    For example, I just looked up a new article on the Justice Department’s report on the police and courts in Ferguson, MO. Here’s the first paragraph at 730L (low), 1010L (middle) and MAX (high) reading levels, which seem to roughly map to ABE, pre-HSE and HSE levels:

    “The results of a six-month federal investigation came to a dramatic conclusion Wednesday with a 102-page report that accused the Ferguson Police Department and courts of unfairly targeting African-Americans, searching people without probable cause, abusing authority to quash protests and routinely violating civil rights.”

    “A Justice Department report released Wednesday accused the Ferguson Police Department and courts of unfairly targeting African-Americans. The report found that police searched people without a legal reason, abused their authority and routinely violated civil rights.”

    “The Ferguson Police Department has treated black people unfairly, according to a government report released Wednesday. It found that police officers searched black people without a legal reason. They arrested people just for walking down the street. They used too much force and often ignored people’s rights.”

    I would say that the “low” level, which Newsela says is about a 4th grade level, still seems a bit high for our ABE-level classes, though it feels right for pre-HSE. I’m curious to know if other teachers agree with me on this gut feeling.

    I was hoping that I could edit the newspaper article myself through the web site and save it to my account, but I guess I could always download and edit it that way. That’s what I used to do anyway.

    Here is the chart on Lexile levels and grade level (which we all know is problematic):

    http://support.newsela.com/hc/en-us/articles/201218865-Article-grade-levels

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  3. By the way, if you have trouble signing up for Newsela because you don’t work for a public school, follow these steps to add your school and create an account:

    Go to https://newsela.com/signup/, choose faculty/staff, search by zip code and when your school doesn’t come up, choose “Yes” to this question: Are you sure 11232 is the right ZIP Code?, then search by your school/program’s name. When it doesn’t show up, fill out the form to add your school to their list.

    It’s a bit roundabout, but you will end up with an account with Newsela.

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    1. Hi all,

      I just realized that in order to create classes, view student quiz results, and view quiz answers (this is important, right?), you need to be confirmed with Newsela as faculty of a school. They list K12 schools, but not adult education. I emailed info@newsela.com with our program name and got a quick response. I’m not confirmed yet, but I’m crossing fingers.

      Let us know if you have the same problem.

      By the way, you can still sign up for Newsela and download all the stories and quizzes without being confirmed as school faculty.

      Eric

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  4. I love Newsela! I especially love being able to differentiate by reading level. However, I don’t love the comprehension checks because I find the questions a bit awkward and difficult for most of my students. I tend to create my own reading comprehension questions.

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  5. I have been using Newela in my adult education classes since this past spring. I love that I can have my students read the articles on the Ipads within class, while choosing the reading level that suits them best! It also allows for a great “turn and talk” after reading independently. I always incorporate a writing piece into my science and social studies lessons and this website lends itself well to that. I’ve shared this resource with many colleagues.

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    1. Wendy, thanks for the comment. I love the idea of having students read on Ipads and choose a reading level that works for them. Would you mind sharing a recent article you used, the “turn and talk” suggestion and the writing prompt you used? I think it would be helpful for other teachers to hear how you used a specific article.

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  6. I use NewsELA all the time. With the shift to informational texts on the TASC test, this website presents a wealth of options for the adult ed classroom. The topics range from science, politics, current events, pop culture. I find it very useful that you can choose the range of difficulty of the reading with a click of the button.

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  7. NewsELA is a very good site because of the informational text articles that are leveled, therefore students in a mixed level classroom can get the gist of the same article, or they can compare and contrast the different levels of the same feature article, which can be helpful when teaching summarizing skills.

    I particularly like the Pro/Con articles which are an invaluable tool to help students who are preparing for the TASC exam, and of course many of the articles have multiple choice/review questions.

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  8. BMCC Continuing Education Program did show up when I plugged in my e-mail and I was able to create an account. Hopefully this works for other CUNY campuses with HSE programs as well.

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  9. I have used Current Event Articles before in class and it is such a great way to get students involved and discussing topics that they have just learned about. I am really interested in any noteworthy observations for differentiated instruction with the articles. I wonder the difference in results when I try to accurately place each student in their correct level, or the difference in instruction when the levels are distributed randomly? What would happen if I give the lower comprehending students a higher level to read, and the students who have higher reading comprehension a lower level article? Really my goal would be to boost the skills of the students at the lower level, and have the students who comprehend at a higher level reinforce skills in a simple way. I will try out a few different arrangements of Newsela inspired lessons and post results in the coming months.

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  10. An update: Newsela is very interested in working with teachers in adult education. They are currently doing a pilot to allow teachers access to the Pro version of their software, which allows assigning articles to students, tracking students’ progress, etc.

    Also Newsela is collaborating with Pro/Con (see CollectEdNY.org review here: http://www.collectedny.org/2015/03/use-paired-texts-to-explore-pros-and-cons/) to all Newsela users to assign Pro/Con articles at 5 different reading levels. This would help teachers start giving students practice with argumentative essays at more beginning levels.

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  11. Two instructors introduced me to Newsela. I plan to use it to supplement the newspaper I use in class, News For You.

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