Sparking Student Motivation: Using NEWSELA

Late last week I introduced my students to a new website:  NEWSELA.  It allows my students to read newsworthy informational articles on a variety of Lexile levels.  Friends,  THEY LOVE IT!

We went down to our LLC (Library Learning Commons) on Friday and signed up for a free account.  My smarties are grouped under a classroom that I set up.  This allows me to assign them specific articles to read.  Some of the articles also have online quizzes, so they can work as practice for CCSS and state assessments.  One of the things I love about the site is that each article is written on four different Lexile levels.  They range from 540 up to about 1100 depending on the article.  My students can adjust the Lexile level themselves for each article.  I loved the idea that I can assign a specific story to my class and also assign them the Lexile.  But, they also have the option of going to the site and changing the Lexile level depending on the article they read.  I found many of them adjusting the War and Peace  and Science articles down, and the Kids and Arts articles up.  Just a little piece of data for me to file away in my brain.
Primarily I am going to use this site as a center/task rotation.  For a few weeks I'm going to just have my students choose what they would like to read on the site, and then I will start to assign articles based on the concepts I'm teaching as well as increasing rigor before our assessment.  One of the other things I liked about the site was the ability to print the article and quiz as needed.  So if I have a student who can't get to this particular center for whatever reason I have the ability to print the article.  I am going to use this print option a little more when I'm working with my lower reading groups so we can focus in on some close reading strategies.  This print options allows them the ability to  mark up the page.  Many need more practice with this.  It's also great if you don't have a ton of computers or iPads in your room. You can still get high quality informational texts for your students written on their level.

After our first run through on Friday I was AMAZED at how much they loved this site.  How else could I have EVER gotten them talking about North Korea without an article like this:

It was so cool to see my students talk to each other on the way to lunch about the articles they chose to read.  Many of my students actually connected to students they don't spend time with because they realized they had read the same article.  I am hoping this will foster new friendships in  my classroom as we head into the second half of the school year.
Have you found a fun way to keep students motivated in their learning?  Go check out Joanne at Head over Heels for Teaching and find other ways to Spark Student Motivation.  Also, have you used Newsela?  If you have, and you have any tricks of the trade, I'd love to hear them.!


11 comments

  1. Wow, Love the info on a new source. As a sixth ELA teacher, I am always searching for ways to keep current on news event but keep the info accessible to all reading levels! love your blog...keep the great posts coming!

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  2. I love Newsela! I actually blogged about it once {here}

    I like it for guided reading time or if there's ever a news story that I need to be more age-level appropriate. Thanks for sharing! :-)

    Real Teachers Learn

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  3. I just learned about NewsELA a couple of weeks ago! I'm anxious to try it in my classroom! I'm so glad your students enjoyed the article-you've given me motivation to try it next week! How long do you give your students to read the article and take the quiz? Do they take the quiz online or paper? Thanks for sharing and linking up my friend!
    Joanne
    Head Over Heels For Teaching

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  4. I can't believe I've never heard of this website! Thanks for sharing. I'm headed there now!

    Jennifer
    Mrs. Laffin's Laughings

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  5. I just started using NewsELA last week after seeing it mentioned on a blog. I LOVE it! I am actually using it as a whole group activity. I choose an article, project it, and have students take turns reading. We stop to discuss vocabulary, nonfiction text structure, and connecting background knowledge. I LOVE the class discussions that have been sparked. We take the quiz as a class, and I enter the answer the majority of the class gives, but we discuss why someone else might have a different answer. When we review the correct answers we discuss strategies for why the other answers were not correct. It takes me about 30 minutes to go through an article this way, and I am amazed at how much teaching I am doing in this short time. There are so many different ways to use this resource!

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  6. What a great site! Thank you so much for sharing it. I plan on looking into adding to my daily rotations.

    Mary
    Fit to be Fourth

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  7. What a awesome resource! We have a activity where students read a news article and then write a news broadcast and film it and edit it to actually look like they were reporting the news. I have always struggled to find news articles that worked especially when you have students with very different reading levels, this is perfect. Thank you for sharing!

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  8. We just posted a free Newsela common core graphic organizer on Teacherspayteachers.com. We love this excellent educational resource! You can access it at http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/NEWSELA-Current-Event-Article-Analysis-Template-Common-Core-1051898. Have a great lesson. Tony at Instructomania

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  9. I also love NewsELA! The articles are interesting, current, and on my students' level(s)!

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  10. I just signed my kids up! You are right...I love it! Thank you again! xo
    Alison
    Rockin' and Lovin' Learnin'

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  11. Another great resource I use is ThinkCERCA. They are a little bit different as they use authentic texts about a specific topic instead of lexiled text. They also have a paid version with additional lessons and a writing framework.

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