Newsela in the Classroom

Overview

Welcome Back, Teachers. from Newsela on Vimeo.

Newsela is primarily an online news site that provides access to high-quality news articles, each of which is written at five different reading levels. The original article is presented as the highest Lexile level.

Newsela has integrated features that allow assessments by teachers. As users read a story, they can annotate the content for deeper engagement with the material to develop understanding. They can also take a four questions quiz after reading the article to check for understanding. Teachers may also assign a writing prompt to students. Students store their assessments into binders, where they can later review their work. Teachers can see class data in aggregate with the free features, and have to upgrade to Pro for individual student information.

Newsela organises news articles into different categories, including Science Law, Math, Arts. The news are curated from sources such as Associated Press, the Washington Post, The Guardian, Scientific American, Smithsonian, Atlas Obscura, AlJazeera and others. Many of the news stories have been translated into Spanish as well. Although news is the primary resource on Newsela, there is also a library that includes primary sources, biographies, famous speeches, myths and legends, etc. Newsela also organises content into text sets which curates material from the website around a particular central topic or theme. Teachers can use existing text sets or curate their own text sets. Teachers can also access and used “paired texts” which are made up of two articles on a theme or topic. The writing prompt for paired texts requires students to use evidence from both texts.

Dashboard

Teachers set up students into classes in Newsela and select a reading level for each student. The system is responsive and adjusts a student’s level after 8-10 quizzes.

Grade Levels

Newsela is meant for use in Grades 2 – 12. Newsela elementary mirrors the parts of the main site that are for elementary school students. The premium option is called Newsela Pro.

Why use Newsela

Use Newsela to help students build background knowledge and vocabulary around a topic, and knowledge of current events. Provide differentiation in the classroom by letting students high-quality documents at their individual reading level, so that they can access the same content at a level appropriate to their individual progress.

How to Use Newsela in the Classroom

  • use articles and texts for students to develop background information
  • provide examples of concepts from the real-world
  • expose students to the real-world vocabulary around an issue
  • access additional information or context on a subject
  • use the five w’s or other frameworks to help children learning about their world
  • find articles that spark iTime explorations
  • explore the pros and cons of a controversial issue through news and articles
  • read articles related to personal interest

Main Uses

  • debates
  • persuasive and opinion writing
  • discussions
  • comparing and contrasting
  • summarising
  • reading and comprehension

Platforms

Subject Area

All

Professional Development

 There is a built-in learning and support centre, which provides a variety of resources, including sample lesson plans and information about how to use various features and articles in Newsela.

Adoption

According to the About page, it is used by over one million educators. Customers include Chicago Public Schools, Newark Public Schools and KIPP Foundation.

Login integrations

Google account logins available

Reviews

Epic! Tool for Reading and Literacy

Epic is an online library for children 12 years old and younger. It is free for use by teachers, and cost $4.99 per month for home use.

Tools available


Search – Search and filter by age, lexile level, AR level, or fiction/nonfiction book type, or select a common search word

Browse – Look through the books recommended for the child, based on available categories and your preferences.

My Library – Access books and videos that the user has made a Favorite.

Mailbox – Access collections of books that a parent/teacher has created and sent

Profile (avatar) – See books read, the number of hours read for, and the videos watched

Hamburger (three lines) – Access profile or reading log, or sign out

Great features:

  • wide selection of books
  • works on Android, iOS and web
  • no ads
  • no in app purchases
  • 30 days free trial
  • up to 4  profiles allowed per household account
  • differentiation is possible with individual student preferences

Area for improvement

  • Let students log in using a pin such as a picture or symbol

 

Next Steps

Sign up for an account at Epic for Educators, or if you would like to try Epic first, check out my class.

If you are a teacher interested in using Epic in your classroom, here are some suggestions of ways to do so.

This post was originally made on http://blogs.isp.cz/esit/2017/03/15/epic-tool-for-reading-and-literacy/

Use Tinycards to Memorize Content

Tinycards is a flashcard app that lets you learn anything. It is an extension of Duolingo’s service. It lets you follow Duolingo (to learn German, French, Spanish or Portugese), as well as TinyGeo (for geography facts), TinyHistory (for history facts), TinyScience (for science facts) and Chineasy (for Chinese).

Using Tinycards

 Once you register and log in, you are taken to your DISCOVER page, which shows your favorite decks, people that you follow, and trending decks. If you want to make a new deck, you can click on Create.

To create a new deck, you need to upload a cover image, and then add cards to the deck. The settings let you select whether both the front and back sides of the card contain content to be learned. You can also set the visibility of the deck to Everyone, or Only Me.

On the front side of the card, you can place an image or text. If you choose to use an image, you can search for images right in the app, and crop the selected image.

For the back side of the card, you can have 1-3 sections (select ADD FACT), and each section can contain either text or an image.

 

Platforms

Tinycards words through the web, and there is an iOS app. There is no Android app yet.

Other Reviews

7 Ways for Girls to be Brave with Technology

This research study presents the observations that women leave engineering because of group dynamics and negative experiences working in teams. I also heard Caroline Paul on Tim Ferris’ podcast around the same time that I came across her TED talk below. I was struck by how much she fought to do the fun things that may routinely be considered the domain of men, and realized that she experienced the same obstacles referred to in the study.

5

Ways That Girls can be Brave in Using Technology

  • Try a new technology tool, and decide whether to keep and use it or discard it.
  • Ask for help when stuck.
  • In a group, get a chance to do all the different activities and don’t let others limit what you can do.
  • Help people who are being cyberbullied, whether it’s by standing up for them online or doing something nice for them in person.
  • When you’re afraid of something, learn more about it and use what you learn to help you overcome your fear.
  • Choose to regularly put computer technology away and focus on something else.
  • Learn to code.

P.S. I need to look into how this could have happened, but the first version of this post disappeared. I’m grateful to The Wayback Machine for providing the archive so that I didn’t have to recreate the whole post.

Unglue Parental Control

Unglue is a new tool that allows parents to set controls on children’s use of devices. The idea is that parents set limits on social media and entertainment sites and apps, while allowing free use of others. This doesn’t disable the device, but particular apps. Parents can save settings for individual days, for all weekdays, and for all weekends. These settings include:

  • hours during which internet use is allowed
  • entertainment time

Children also have control. They can:

  • track their device use
  • check their schedules
  • earn more time with chores
  • roll over unused minutes to another day

 

Unglue is currently free to download. You first install it on a tablet, to manage other mobile devices.  To manage gaming consoles and other home devices, you have to set up Unglue on a desktop computer, or purchase a special peripheral from the company. For views of the app as seen by parents or children, see here.

My Impressions

I think that Unglue could be a great addition to your family’s digital tools. As always, I encourage discussion with children to set reasonable limits. I like that Unglue lets you differentiate between different uses of the device, and makes the settings clear to children so that they can exercise some agency as well. To me, this moves the conversation beyond screen time, to how do we use and engage with devices in our life, and what do we value as part of our life. What do you want your children and your family to be doing when not using digital entertainment? I suggest that you have that conversation as a family.

If you’ve tried Unglue, I’d love to know more. Please leave a comment.

Other reviews

Also posted on the ISP ES Blog