Newsela provides teachers, parents, and students with over 1,000 current event articles scaled at five different Lexile reading comprehension levels. Students read articles covering a wide array of topics then complete accompanying Common Core-aligned quizzes. Teachers have the ability to assign articles and monitor student progress through the Newsela Binder feature. A large portion of Newsela’s offerings are free for users, however, schools and districts may opt for additional features through Newsela PRO, a paid subscription that costs anywhere from $4,000 to $7,000 per school.
Newsela’s stated goal is to improve reading comprehension in students 2nd through 12th grade. Newsela offers an extensive online library of over 1,000 current event articles geared towards readers of varied abilities and interests. Most articles are accompanied by a comprehension quiz aligned to Common Core Standards.
Newsela pulls its articles from over forty different media sources. These include McClatchy-Tribune papers like the Chicago Tribune and the LA Times, along with other prominent news sources like the Washington Post and the Associated Press. Articles are scaled at five different reading levels, allowing students of all abilities to share in the same content but in an accessible way.
Newsela for Teachers
Newsela articles fall into eight categories:
- War & Peace
These categories offer teachers the opportunity to find articles that are both relevant to their subject area and interesting their students.
Through the Newsela ‘Binder’, teachers invite students to join their online class through site-generated access codes. Teachers can assign articles to their entire class, or to smaller groups of students, opening the door for greater differentiation and a tailored experience for students. Teachers have the option to select the Lexile level of the articles they to assign their students. Students who choose to read articles independently of teacher assignments are responsible for selecting their own Lexile levels. Most articles are followed by a Common Core-aligned quiz to reinforce reading comprehension. Quiz questions are anchored to eight different learning standards:
- What the Text Says
- Central Idea
- People, Events & Ideas
- Word Meaning & Choice
- Text Structure
- Point of View/Purpose
- Arguments & Claims
Newsela’s library is not limited to just articles for English-speaking students. Most Newsela articles are also translated into Spanish. The site includes lesson plans to help teachers implement bilingual reading comprehension in their classrooms.
As previously mentioned, Newsela is a freemium program. For unpaid users, the Newsela Binder allows teachers to track when students complete assigned articles and quizzes, in addition to reviewing student and class-wide results. Teachers can also see how their students compare to all Newsela users within the same age group.
Paid users have access to expanded Binder features. Teachers can track student progress on a granular level to determine overall reading comprehension growth and mastery of Common Core standards. Other Newsela PRO features allow students to annotate articles and respond to fully customizable written response questions. Newsela PRO users have access to a live chat feature to troubleshoot any issues that may arise.
Newsela for Students
Newsela’s student users can access the online library at both school and home. Each student has access to a personal assignment page where she can view the materials assigned to her. Directions and links take students directly to the articles and quizzes. Newsela provides students with instantaneous quiz results. They are not, however, permitted to retake the quiz without teacher permission. If students wish to continue reading beyond assigned materials, they have open access to the Newsela online library.
Access to Newsela’s basic features is completely free to users. The newly-released Newsela iOS app is also free for users. Subscription to Newsela Pro gives users access to additional content, progress-tracking capabilities, and lesson plans. Yearly plans vary depending on class, school, and district size. According to a recent interview with Newsela CEO Matthew Gross, schools can expect to pay anywhere from $4,000 to $7,000 a year for Newsela Pro. Users can work one-on-one with a Newsela consultant through the company website to determine exact pricing.
WHO'S USING IT?
According to the company’s website, over 650,000 teachers have assigned over 100 million articles and 100 million questions to over 5.8 million students. Newsela also claims usership in 70% of public schools in the United States.
Little outside research exists to corroborate Newsela’s efficacy. The company claims that their articles and content-based quizzes improve reading comprehension levels for students who frequently access the Newsela library.
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