Newsela was always one of the greatest gifts teachers could ever receive—newspaper articles on current events worldwide that could be reprinted at different reading levels for students with varying literacy needs. Well, just in time for a new school year, Newsela has remade itself into THE go-to source for adult literacy teachers, especially those of us who teach to the HSE test.
Whereas the Newsela staff always chose intriguing topics that students wanted to read about, they have now gone one better, and greatly expanded their collection of articles so as to directly address the needs of students who are preparing for an HSE while simultaneously reading about current events. Using Newsela articles, students can now learn all they need to know to prepare for the Social Studies subtest, and by engaging in the study activities that accompany each article, they can prepare for the Reading test as well.
(Note: You will need to register for a free account to access the linked articles here.)
Want to give your students a quick introduction to the key concepts of economics? Try having them read the articles Comparing Economic Systems, The Three Great Thinkers who Changed Economics or Issue Overview: GDP. Students who read “Coffee Beans and Globalization” will get an excellent introduction to supply and demand, and can reinforce their understanding by reading “The Falling Price of Gasoline. The text set “All About Economics” will help them understand the economic pros and cons of globalized economics, and “Tea and the Development of a Global Economy” will help them understand this trend through a historical perspective.
That’s just economics! Articles such as “What is the Purpose of Government?” and “Comparing Governments: Democracy vs. Authoritarianism” will help students understand basic civics concepts that can also be applied to world history. There is a rich collection of articles on U.S. history as well, such as the set on the 1950s, World War I, The Great Depression, and Cold War tensions. Reconstruction is also covered—all of these are important for the Social Studies TASC.
Newsela isn’t just a go-to source for social studies. For teachers who are teaching the essay, there are a number of pro/con sets, and the articles that are categorized as “issue overviews” usually summarize both sides of an argument, making them useful as source texts for practicing the essay. Quizzes accompany every article, and questions are worded in such a way as to parallel the kind of thinking that students must master for the TASC. In addition, there are text sets and articles geared to science, such as the text set on climate change, which is featured on the TASC. In addition, a number of text sets on careers will help teachers fulfill WIOA requirements as they teach.
As all of us in the adult education world know, it is simply not possible to cover all of the content areas and topics that appear on the TASC test, but Newsela’s new collection offers a possible solution: assign articles that target key TASC topics for homework, then give the quiz when students return to class. Students will be building their reading skills and acquiring content knowledge at the same time.
So what are you waiting for? Start browsing!
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
CollectEdNY’s first review of 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