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.!