Four Classroom-Ready Tips to Boost Reading Engagement and Drive Learning

Arts and Humanities

Four Classroom-Ready Tips to Boost Reading Engagement and Drive Learning

from Newsela

By Malvika Bhagwat     May 21, 2018

Four Classroom-Ready Tips to Boost Reading Engagement and Drive Learning

What leads to reading success? In my view, success with reading doesn’t follow from drill and kill practices that stifle interest and motivation. Rather, it follows from nurturing a love of reading and closing the reading engagement gap—the discrepancy between how students engage with modern digital content and how they engage with traditional texts in school.

Here are four classroom-ready practices that I have developed while teaching English and designing reading curriculum; I’ve found them to be essential in stoking students’ reading engagement.

1. Offer high-interest content that reflects student experiences

Studies show that for students to remain engaged, they need texts that reflect their personal experiences. This is especially crucial for hesitant readers; struggling students are more likely to engage in reading and learning when the text makes a real-world connection to their lives, or when they are inherently interested in the topic. Additionally, nonfiction content that showcases stories of success and hope for people of color drives reading motivation for racially diverse students.

Newsela’s nonfiction texts cover the massive range of interests and lived experiences of students across the country and even around the world. From popular culture and national conversations to emerging technology and social justice, we have articles that interest every student from any background. This diverse, engaging approach to content selection is apparent whether teachers are using material to support core curriculum, inform independent reading—or something in between.

Newsela opens up a conversation. Students need to have a reason to read beyond just understanding the main idea. Newsela articles really connect to their interests and their lives.
—Natalie Franzi, Director of Curriculum and Instruction, Middletown Township Schools

2. Empower teachers to personalize instruction

Ultimately, it comes down to the teacher. No advancement in classroom technology or instructional materials will ever have the impact of a passionate, empowered teacher. We know that teachers are most effective at driving engagement and learning outcomes when they are empowered to differentiate their instruction for the range of needs and interests in their classrooms.

We equip teachers with tools that help them personalize instruction for the needs of each student and subsequently track student activity. Additionally, educators can streamline assignment management by assigning and collecting work with a click, so they can focus class time on engaging students.

I loved that with Newsela all the students in a class could read the same text at the same time but at different levels. I thought this was a great tool to help us reach all of our students more effectively.
—Kenneth McKee, Literacy and Instructional Coach, Buncombe County Schools

3. Offer the right level of rigor

Research has shown texts used for instruction that can be read with at least 95% accuracy produce greater gains than more difficult texts. At the same time, only teaching students with texts that match their comfortable reading level can result in stalled reading growth.

Because all of our articles are published at five discrete reading levels, teachers have the flexibility to use both texts that are just right for students and texts that are slightly challenging. We also provides scaffolding tools to help students better grasp more difficult texts.

Most meaningful of all, our adaptivity allows all students in a class to cover the same material—regardless of reading ability. Because each student accesses the same article at his or her own reading level, everyone can engage in a real-world dialogue after reading, and take engagement even further.

Kristine Goworek, a teacher at Middletown Village Elementary School, says before Newsela, “I was stressed about finding resources that were accurate and reliable.”

How should schools think about efficacy in edtech? Join Edsurge for an online panel discussion on edtech efficacy June 20 at 11am PT | 2pm ET.

4. Provide students with autonomy and choice

Giving students a choice in what they read is crucial for student motivation and engagement; students are more likely to read purposefully if they can choose what they read. In fact, self-selected reading activities are approximately twice as impactful in driving reading development as teacher-directed reading activities.

Students can explore our library of more than 5,000 articles and find texts that are of interest to them. And with Text Sets, teachers can find or create groups of articles related to what they’re covering in class and allow students to select articles. Literacy coach McKee, for example, found that his students thrive on choice. So he invites them to seek out articles on topics that interest them, and he encourages teachers to give students a choice of choosing from several articles. In order to gauge comprehension, teachers can alternate quizzes with writing prompts or live discussions.

Source: Newsela. Video also available on Facebook.

Getting results

Across two different studies, conducted by WestEd and Empirical Education, we found that students who read Newsela at recommended frequency saw double the reading gains and students that read Newsela daily saw three times the growth. This positive impact held true for students of all demographic backgrounds including ELL students and students of color.

Newsela is reading evolved. Find out more:

  • Positive learning outcomes begin with engaged readers.
  • Newsela works, and it works for everyone.
  • Newsela Collections are packed with differentiated content and instructional strategies that will stay current and are accessible and relevant to every learner in today’s diverse classrooms.
  • The Newsela SEL Collection provides engaging content that empowers teachers to weave SEL topics and strategies into core instruction.
  • Can’t find a curriculum resource that meets all your needs? Work with our Custom Services Team to design a Collection that is fully aligned to your academic priorities and instructional frameworks.
Learn more about EdSurge operations, ethics and policies here. Learn more about EdSurge supporters here.

More from EdSurge

Get our email newsletterSign me up
Keep up to date with our email newsletterSign me up