Read All About It: Curriculet Gets News

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How’s this for news?

San Francisco-based Curriculet said today that it has partnered with USA Today to offer K-12 students reading texts with three different level of assessments, based on newspaper stories written by USA Today writers.

The first 150 stories, released today, come with embedded questions, aligned to Common Core standards aimed at three levels: elementary, middle and high school students. 

Building out the library of content is another step for Curriculet, which boasts an available elibrary of more than 1000 popular books for readers in grades 3 through 12 with “curriculets” attached. Curriculets are rich collections of teacher-created questions, annotations and multimedia, embedded into the texts. Teachers can create their own or use ones created by others.

Similarly Curriculet founder, Jason Singer says the curriculets released with the news stories are written by teachers who have previously written curriculets for ebooks.

“No other news source ready for the classroom is as relevant and timely as USAT-Curriculet,” Singer declares. The system will not support teachers creating their own curriculets.

Curriculet has been making big strides in winning over teachers with its ebook curriculets: Singer says that each month more than 450,000 students and 50,000 teachers in 115 countries use the service every month. What’s more Singer says that teachers have been adding their own materials—including thousands of news articles and information texts—to the Curriculet reading platform. “Our teachers are constantly asking us to deliver more informational texts and news stories,” he says.

Even so, Curriculet is following in the wake of an another, enormously popular platform, Newsela, based in New York. Newsela debuted its leveled news reading service in late 2013, based on articles from the McClatchy news service. Newsela provides articles at different Lexile levels.   

Curriculet plans to deliver a half dozen stories a day, all with assessment layers. The stories will be as USA Today delivers them--essentially at a 6th grade level. For the first 45 days, the service will be free. In the autumn, Curriculet plans to charge $4.99 per student for a 52-week subscription.

Perhaps the most significant change is positioning Curriculet not as an ereading system but as a digital platform that delivers content in many forms. “You can pair readings,” Singer says, “like today's articles about the 50th Anniversary march on Selma with poetry like Still I Rise, primary texts like Letter from a Birmingham Jail, and a novel like The Watsons Go to Birmingham all on a single platform.”

And as a former high school English teacher, that Singer says, is exactly what he hopes students will do. 

Editor's note: An early version of the story suggested that Curriculet is rewriting news stories; it isn't. 

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