Thursday, November 19, 2015

Thursday Thoughts: Benefits of Newsela

Our school was recently able to upgrade to NEWSELA Pro accounts. I've used NEWSELA in the past but more as a source for myself. Today, I dove in face first into NEWSELA as I needed articles for a nonfiction lesson. As we work toward harder texts, I felt like Scholastic News just wasn't cutting for some of my lesson's objectives. Plus, with need for annotations and differentiation, I was looking for a way to make my job easier. Today, NEWSELA did that for me!

I was about to assign all students via Google Classroom, a NEWSELA article to read and annotate. I was able to put directions at the top of the article and on the SMARTboard. The best thing was after students finished reading the article, I had instant feedback on their reading successes or failures! What?! I felt like reading the article digitally also helped my students be exposed to reading "differently" and allowed to practice using tech tools for annotations. I was nervous students wouldn't be engaged because even I have trouble with digital texts. BUT... My room was absolutely silent as students read and annotated.  I was also shocked and impressed by complexity of some of their annotations. 

Here's a snapshot of my day using NEWSELA: 

Another benefit is the ability to create text-sets for popular topics. I'm hoping to use these of our "research" portion of the nonfiction writing component to this unit. We usually write feature articles focused on space exploration and technology. There are also lots of sets that create an instant pairing with novels or social studies texts. 

Students can also "adjust" the reading level of articles as well. I made my students choose lexiles based on their Fountas and Pinnell and MAP data for their first read. I'm hoping the short quizzes and data points, will give me more information and feedback on my students as nonfiction readers. 

The free version is worth checking out as well! Today, I learned that sometimes you gotta be willing to jump off and take a risk. 

Do you use NEWSELA in your classroom? 
How do you promote digital literacy? 



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