Newsela is an effective classroom literacy tool for students and teachers, and just like with any tool, routines and procedures increase its productivity. This strategy outlines some best practices for creating routines using Newsela in the classroom. It highlights the importance of consistency and clarity when developing routines, rooted in consistent use of the tool and a structured set of norms. As when introducing any new tech tool into a classroom, initial routine-setting and continuous refinement of those routines for how to use the technology support student success.
Teacher Preparation and Planning:
Review the Newsela platform and familiarize yourself with the tools within a Newsela or Newsela Pro account. Then consider the following when developing your routine:
Frequency: How often will Newsela be used?
Daily: Students would be required to read an article inside or out of the classroom for a total of five articles per week if students are meeting with their class every day. For this frequency to work effectively, consider how many other articles students may be reading in other classes so they are not overloaded.
Weekly: Assign one article per week relating to the topics discussed in the class or relating to the Key Learning Targets or Objective of the class period. This could be done by having students identify their own article(s) to read or by having the teacher assign articles.
Unit/ Project specific: The teacher may elect to identify and assign specific articles to support learning in a specific unit or project that relates to the Essential Questions of the unit.
Purpose: What is the purpose for using Newsela?
Practice: A teacher may wish to utilize Newsela solely to infuse more literacy practice into their class, especially for non-ELA teachers or electives.
Literacy Development: A teacher may wish to track the progress students are making by using the Newsela Pro features available in the Newsela Binder. Teachers can analyze students' Quiz scores and review responses to the Write Prompt.
Content Development and Discussion: Another focus may be to have students dive deep into a topic through a series of articles known as a Newsela Text Set. The instructor can curate a text set that focuses on a topic that is being covered in class and have the students read and discuss these articles to gain new perspectives and knowledge. Consult the Recommended Text Set section below to see some sample Text Sets.
Newsela Pro Tip- Instructors who have Newsela Pro will be able to modify the Write activity to facilitate reflection and group discussions. An example of an edited Write activity could be as follows. "How did the article change your perspective on the events that occurred on D-Day? Please provided excerpts from the text to support your ideas."
Resource: Students may use Newsela articles and Newsela Primary Sources to research topics related to an assignment or project they are working on.
Placement Within Lesson and Timing
Beginning of Class (Do Now, Bell Ringer, etc.): Newsela is a great way to start your class. Whether it is scheduled or a spur of the moment idea, reading a Newsela article, taking the quiz and responding to a Write Prompt is a great way to engage students in the day's topic.
During the Lesson: Newsela articles can be used to enhance a lesson. Inserting an article that students read as a group or individually during a lesson can help to kick off a discussion on how that article influences the topic that is being covered, or provide insight into a new perspective on an issue.
End of Class (Exit Ticket): Formative assessments like exit tickets help teachers to identify what students are learning and what they still need help on. Assigning a Newsela article at the end of the day or lesson can serve to reinforce students' understanding of a topic and assess their understanding at the same time by using the Newsela Pro feature of modifying the Write Prompt. This may be a way to prompt students to think about a topic outside of class.
Outside Class Time (Flipped classroom or homework): Sometimes it is difficult to devote enough in-class time to get the full benefit of a tool like Newsela. Setting up routines for using Newsela outside of the classroom is a great way to maximize class time.
Timing: How much time should be allotted to using Newsela in class?
Think about: It is important to keep in mind how much time you have to devote to Newsela in a given session and align the allotted time with the purpose of using Newsela. If you are really looking for students to dive deep into the text for an assignment, you will want to give more time to let students analyze the text. On the other hand, if the purpose of using Newsela is to give students an opportunity to practice their literacy skills, 10 minutes may suffice. NOTE: The length of the article is based on the level viewed, so if you have students reading at max level, it may take them more time than someone reading it on minimum level. Alternatively you may have students who struggle with reading. It is important to give ample time to ensure students are successful and benefit fully.
Timing Guide: Here is a general guide for how long it may take for students to do the following in Newsela:
An entire lesson can be structured around a Newsela article. In this situation you may want to devote an entire class period or in some cases multiple periods.
Select Texts and Create Text Sets
Teachers will need to select the Texts or Text Sets they wish to use.
Teachers can create their own Text Set(s) to enhance the connection between the class and the topics being covered. See an example of a teacher curated text set in the resource section below.
Consistency is the key to all procedures and routines in education. Students want to know what to expect on a given day. In addition, once they learn how to use a tool, they expect it to remain fairly constant. When using Newsela, it is important to stay consistent with usage frequency and requirements. That is not to say that teachers shouldn't introduce or utilize different tools within the platform, but they should remember to keep expectations, allotted time, and resources consistent.
Newsela Pro Tip: If multiple teachers or the entire school is using Newsela and/ or Newsela Pro, it can be beneficial to have a conversation about having common elements used in all classrooms utilizing Newsela. This will reduce stress students may have about using the tool and increase productivity.
Prepare and Train Students
Newsela assesses students' reading comprehension as they read and respond to the article quizzes. Newsela then recommends the appropriate level article for each student. Teachers should explain this to the students so they understand that as they get to know the program, it will be getting to know them in order to give them content at their personalized level.
Teachers will need to provide students with adequate training on how the platform works and how to access the platform.
Online LMS: Some districts may have an online platform such as Google Classroom, Schoology, or Canvas. Newsela can easily be linked to these platforms so students can access them with ease. In addition, some LMS platforms have Newsela built into the navigation of the site to allow for one click access.
Link to Articles and Student Accounts: Teachers will have their own classroom code and can enroll students into their course with a link or code. Students have their own accounts and can be enrolled in multiple courses so they can have access to multiple classes at the same time.
Newsela Tip: Students will need to read about 6-8 articles before Newsela has identified the student's reading level. When students are using Newsela in multiple classrooms, all the articles read by a student regardless of which class will count towards this data tracking.
Printed Articles: In some cases, teachers may want to print the articles out. For example, if the teacher has stations that students are working through, they may have a printed article at each station that individuals or groups need to read in order to complete the station activity.
Review routines and modify them periodically
It is important to review routines and expectations periodically to keep them fresh.
Newsela is always improving and adding new features especially when it comes to PRO resources. As new content and tools come available, it is beneficial to pass that along to the students and practice the new tools with them.
Use Newsela Pro Resources
Student Progress Tracking through Newsela Binder
Part of the class routine for Newsela PRO users should be to have students track their progress by viewing their binder and the feedback provided by their instructor(s) on a regular basis. From there, students can set specific personalized learning goals based on that data and track their progress.
The Power Words PRO resource can be used to highlight key vocabulary words that are addressed in that unit or lesson
Modified Writing Prompt
This is the easiest way to engage students in reflection about specific questions you have relating to the article and to the content being discussed.
This feature allows the teacher and student to annotate the text using a color coded system that may or may not be set in the classroom. This also allows teachers to focus attention on to key questions and/or ideas presented in the article.
These pre-set activities can be assigned to students to complete as homework or on an e-learning day. Lesson sparks are activities provided by Newsela for Pro accounts. These activities vary from a link to additional resources outside the Newsela platform or a complete lesson that is centered around the topic(s) covered in the article. These are great for new Newsela teachers or new teachers in general. They are a great resource that can inspire to create a new activity from scratch.
Introduce students to the concept of setting routines and procedures by identifying with them how routines and procedures help them in daily life.
Record important points that you believe are important to include in routines
Routines can be developed by the teacher alone, or with students by taking into account the feedback provided by the students. This "voice" can make the implementation of these routines easier for students and increase engagement
Train students on how to use the Newsela platform by modeling how to read and/or annotate a text and respond to the Quiz and Write Prompt.
Newsela training for teachers is available. Click the "Need Help" button in the upper right hand corner of the front page of Newsela. Teachers can also become certified by completing Newsela Lessonly programs. Access to this is located in the Need Help section.
Newsela Certified Educator
Newsela Certified Trainer
Newsela Resource Writer
Newsela Pro tip: Trainings on Newsela PRO features are available by visiting the Needs Help section of Newsela
Practice: Usually it takes a few times for students to really understand how to navigate any program on their own. It is important to give guided practice when first implementing Newsela in the classroom. A little extra time in the beginning will pay off later.
Post routines on the wall using an anchor chart for students to refer to as they engage in the reading.
Students read and perform assigned or selected tasks based on assignment criteria. Teachers should encourage students to take their time in reading the article thoroughly and not skip ahead to do the Quiz or Write Prompt.
Newsela PRO features
Modified Write Prompt
This feature allows you to change the Write activity that students see after reading an article. By modifying this prompt, you can focus students on a specific topic or create a short activity the students complete to demonstrate understanding of specific concepts.
Power words are a great way to reinforce key vocabulary that is present in an article and assess student understanding of these concepts. Articles that have Power Words will be denoted with a lighting bolt, and the students will find an additional activity listed in addition to the quiz and write prompt.
Address annotated text and respond as requested
Teachers can highlight passages or words from a text and prompt students with an idea to ponder or request the students to respond to a posed question. This feature is available on articles for Newsela Pro users.
Teachers should monitor individual students' progress during the reading of the article to ensure students are engaging in the article and working toward goals. These goals should be discussed with each student before or during the early stages of implementing this tool. Alternatively, you may set broad goals for all students to work towards. For example, all students will read 3 articles per week and complete each quiz with a 75% or better.
Both Newsela and Newsela Pro accounts will be able to view the quiz results, time on article, and response to the Write Prompt. In addition, Newsela Pro accounts will have access to the data collected for the students.
It is also important walk around and check in with students who may be having trouble or are disengaged.
Teacher will move about the classroom to answer questions about how to access or use the Newsela platform. If students have a question, they can put a sticky note on their computer to indicate that they need support.
Teacher should restate expectations of the given assignment and offer tips as needed.
Students should review their performance on the Quiz and set SMART goals for how to improve next time. Students can record these goals in shared Google document with their teacher so that both the teacher and students are aware of the students' goals and measure the students progress. To learn more about SMART goals or to see an example of a SMART goal planners, consult the resource below.
Teacher should review performances and levels that students viewed article on using Newsela PRO.
Adjust routine or expectations based on student performance and/or feedback given by the students.
Example: If this is your first time setting the routines and using Newsela, you may decide that you need to increase the time given to complete the reading and/or activities.
Example: The class may need to focus on a specific reading standard moving forward if a majority of students are struggling with a certain standard.
Example: Increase or decrease the frequency with which you use Newsela based on time constraints or the need for additional scaffolding.
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