OK, I have to admit I am becoming a huge Newsela fan. Here’s why. It’s really working for my students. Newsela is a free database of free quality nonfiction articles for my students from a wide array of sources. Newsela aggregates news articles from a variety of trusted sources, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, Scientific American, and more than one hundred others. Even better, every article can be adjusted to meet five different reading levels.
You can print articles or have your students read them online, where they can annotate as they go. You can also assign built-in comprehension quizzes or writing assignments.
All those features are free for all teacher users. Schools can also subscribe for additional content, including 20+ genres of informational texts to support instruction across the curriculum. Learn more about Newsela’s paid options here. It’s pretty easy to assign Newsela articles and activities in Google Classroom, so you can use them as homework or for in-class activities. I got the hang of it quickly. The site also works with other learning management systems like Schoology, Classlink, and Canvas. Find out if your LMS works with Newsela here.
Newsela content includes documents and primary sources for ELA, social studies, and science. There is also up-to-date news and current events sections and even a social and emotional learning (SEL) collection. Here are some ways to use Newsela with your students:
1. Try the See, Think, Wonder Method
Reading is about more than just comprehension. Good readers ponder what they’ve read, considering the content and making their own connections. The See, Think, Wonder method helps students go deeper when they read, and it works perfectly with Newsela articles. Learn more about See, Think, Wonder from The Reading Roundup.
2. Notice and Note
Notice and Note is another way to approach close reading with news articles. Start by reading articles as a group and filling out the organizer together. Then, assign students articles to read on their own using Notice and Note. BetterLesson has more about this method, plus a free printable organizer.
3. Do an Article of the Week
Work on close reading skills by choosing one new article to focus on each week. Each day, spend time with the article in a different way, teaching students to read carefully and analyze the content. Learn more about using an article of the week from AdVenturas in Fourth.
4. Add supporting evidence to opinion pieces
Opinion writing can be a tricky topic, but it’s more important than ever to teach students how to back up their opinions with reliable evidence. Newsela’s PRO/CON articles are a great way to help students debate a topic and find the evidence they need when writing their opinion pieces. Learn more from Performing in Education.
5. Research background info for fiction reading
Close reading in fiction often means learning more about the time, place, or themes of a novel or short story. Newsela can help provide that info with their Paired Text sets, where common fiction books are matched with current events articles. Students can use the annotation tools or a graphic organizer to record their finds. Find out more at BetterLesson.
6. Make a vocabulary list
Newsela’s Core Subjects products (one of their paid subscription services) include Power Words automatically highlighted in each article according to the reading level. Teachers can use these to generate vocab lists. If you’re using the free version of Newsela, find your own vocab lists with a tool like VocabGrabber. Just adjust your Newsela article to the appropriate reading level, then copy and paste the text into VocabGrabber to get suggested words for your list. Speech Time Fun has more on using this cool tool.
7. Take Newsela on a speed date
Reading “speed dating” is all about exchanging facts and opinions with other readers. Students prepare for this discussion strategy by reading and annotating a news article. They then pair up with another student for a quick one-on-one conversation, sharing what they’ve learned and asking questions about the topic. You can get more info about the speed dating discussion strategy at BetterLesson.
8. Combine Newsela with Pear Deck
If you already use Pear Deck in your classroom, don’t miss out on their Newsela Daily Decks! Each school week, they’ll send you five new decks, one for each day. They’re ready-to-teach and include interactive prompts that will help you get each student engaged and involved. Find out more about these Daily Decks from Pear Deck.
9. Give current events reports
Because Newsela’s articles are updated daily, they’re ideal for keeping up with current events. Assign a different student to give a current events report every day, or have each student turn in one report each week or month. You can buy printable templates for them to use from Literacy in Focus, or make up your own.