Adaptive Platform Delivers Reading Materials at 5 Different Reading Levels, With Built in Assessments
How would you like to be able to give students reading assignments focused on current events that are geared to their reading level?
Could you use sets of articles focused on topics in the sciences, social studies, law, health, arts, and other areas, or maybe even regionally-focused content, offered in multiple Lexile Levels so students of any reading level can comprehend them?
What if these articles came with pre-built quizzes that can help you assess proficiency with Common Core Reading Standards?
How about delivering these articles in an online environment where the reading level will adapt to student progress?
Sound too good to be true? Well, it's not … these capabilities and more are part of the amazing Newsela platform.
How Newsela got it's Start
Matthew Gross is the Founder and CEO of Newsela. This platform is his brainchild. Before starting Newsela, Matthew's career revolved around education and technology, and often focused on helping teachers. As Executive Director of the Regents Research Fund, he reported to Education Commissioner John King and oversaw the organization’s growth strategy, partnerships, talent acquisition, and day-to-day operations. While at the Fund, Matthew led the development of EngageNY.org, a web site providing educators resources for implementation of Common Core state standards and teacher and principal evaluations (since its 2011 launch, the site has been viewed over 14 million times by educators in all fifty states!).
When Matt's son was in second grade, he was struggling with reading. His son knew he was reading at a lower level than his friends. When given books that were geared towards his reading level, he would complain that “these are baby books”. His teacher had tried everything she could think of. This frustrating challenge was the impetus that inspired Matt to develop Newsela.
Since its launch in 2013, the Newsela platform has been used by over 400,000 teachers and 5 million students! Newsela has users in over 70% of K-12 schools in the US. That's impressive, but once you understand what the software provides, it's not terribly surprising that it is so popular.
How Newsela Works
Any teacher can request a Newsela account, for free, and use it to set up classes and assign any of the articles on the site to their students. There are over 1,600 articles on the sites and new ones are added regularly. Students can also sign up for free and read the articles at any of the reading levels, and take a quiz, or complete a default writing assignment associated with the content.
The PRO version of Newsela provides much richer functionality, where teachers can really leverage the personalized capabilities of the platform and interact with students individually (more on that shortly).
The Content – Newsela offers grouped by topic and searchable in many ways:
- Topic groupings include War & Peace, Science, Kids, Money, Law, Health, Arts, and Sports (these may change over time).
- Search articles with free form text searches, or narrow down your search with filters for Grade Level or Reading Standards.
- Many articles are now available in Spanish or English, and this can be part of your search criteria as well.
- Use Text Sets to find articles grouped by theme. Examples of Text Sets include “Climate Chaos”, “Immigration in America”, “Making Music”, and “Dream Big”. There are dozens of these Text Sets and each can include dozens of articles (in the PRO version, you can also copy text sets and edit them to build custom sets).
- There are 4 new current event articles added every day. Newsela partners with many organizations for content feeds, such as the Washington Post and the Tribune, and recently developed a partnership with Scientific American.
The Student Experience
When students sign in, they can go to their “Binder”, where they will see articles that have been assigned to them. They can see how they have been doing on quizzes, what their overall reading level is, and even drill down to see how they have done with respect to Reading Standards.
Here is a screen shot showing how I performed as a student over 2 quizzes I completed while getting to know more about Newsela works:
Tomorrow, we will examine some of the functionality offered in the PRO version of Newsela. Newsela PRO is custom priced for each school or district. The PRO version of the software provides tools that can enable teachers to help students work on developing their reading skills, and enables schools to track student progress over time. Be sure to come back for a further look at this powerful platform!