Reading the News at their Comprehension Level
Any teacher is familiar with the blank stares you get when trying to start up a discussion about current events. At times we feel like we might as well be trying to promote the virtues of wood whittling (a noble hobby, by the way).
If getting your students interested in the news seems tricky, then encouraging them to read the news may feel infinitely harder.
If Medium is a useful tool to get your students writing, then Newsela should help them start reading.
Where cutting and pasting articles from the New York Times fails, Newsela prevails. Newsela cleverly presents current events at a variety of different lexical levels, allowing teachers to customize reading assignments to the needs of their classes, or even to the granular needs of their students.
Let’s take a look:
The Free Option
For most teachers starting off with Newsela, the free option will be more than enough. All of the bells and whistles are nice, but at the core we’re looking to help our students start reading non-fiction literature.
As you’re preparing your lesson, look into the different versions of the reading and see which one (or ones) you want your students to read. Depending on how you want to use it, you can either print it, download a PDF, or project the reading on the wall.
Play around with the basic options and you’ll see that just having access to the different readings and a variety of lexical levels will really let you go far with your lessons.
An Upgrade to Pro
Newsela has grown a lot over the last year since I’ve been watching them, and in that time they’ve released Newsela Pro.
When you sign up for Newsela Pro, you get access to a lot of back-end tools that will help you incorporate Newsela into your curriculum and keep track of your students’ work.
Newsela gives you free access to the Pro version when you sign up, though it seems unclear how long it lasts, so be careful of the features you’re getting used to using as you may lose access later.
The Bottom Line
I used to spend a lot of time looking for news articles for students that were both relevant and readable for my students’ level.
It was a surprisingly difficult process.
Newsela has simplified that process by providing us with daily news on a variety of topics, and giving us each article at a variety of reading levels.
If you’ve been struggling with getting your students engaged with the news and reading in general, play with Newsela and let me know how it works for you.