Newsela is a leveled reading program for students in grades 4 through high school students. It begins with news stories which are then rewritten to correspond to different levels of reading complexity. The product first became available in beta in June 2013. The team eventually plans to charge a subscription for the product.
The idea behind Newsela has been something of a holy grail for literacy programs: Create a way to present leveled texts, appropriate for a wide variety of learners. Newsela starts by selecting news stories published by McClatchy-Tribune papers that are likely to have some interest or relevance to students. (McClatchy-Tribune is a partner.) Newsela has hired journalists to rewrite those stories at different grade levels. Each story is published at four different Lexile reading levels as well as in its original form.
Students take short quizzes, aligned with Common Core stanards and associated with the different Lexile levels to assess their comprehension. If they struggle with the quiz, they can read the story at a lower Lexile level (or similarly at a more complex level if they ace the quizzes). Because all students get a chance to absorb the same material, however, teachers can lead class discussions on the article topics with all students, no matter what their reading level. Because the articles are drawn from current news feeds, the topics are relevant and timely.
Newsela includes a dashboard of analytics so that teachers can track student progress.
The product is being developed by a company called Whipsmart Learning, which is led by two Teach for America alums: Matthew Gross, founder and CEO, was previously director of the Regents Research Fund in New York and a VP at Pencil. Whipsmart's chief product officer, Dan Cogan-Drew, was most recently the Director of Digital Learning at Achievement First Public Charter Schools in Connecticut.
Rhode Island Tech for Schools Summit (October 2013)
On EdSurge News
Strengths: The content for Newsela is out of this world. It's by far the most interesting literacy content I've seen because it's so CURRENT. Every article I've seen on their dashboard has been an article that's been curated within the past few days. With Common Core standards, it's imperative that students...
Suggestions for Improvement: I know Newsela truly believes that it is the student's choice to direct their own learning, and I'm a believer in that as well. However, allowing students to pick their own reading level for their exercises could be problematic. I've heard feedback from schools where students pick the lowest read...
Nov 2, 2013Read Full Review