Enhance Student Learning Through Differentiated Technology

Need timely and relevant nonfiction articles for students? Have learners at a wide range of reading levels? Want quick formative assessments? Want to give your students more choice? Newsela is a solution to each of these needs!

If you haven’t looked at Newsela, do it today! Newsela is an innovative approach to bringing daily news to students. Each piece of news comes from reliable news leaders such as the Associated Press and other major American newspapers.

Each article is offered at five different lexile levels, so that your students can all be reading and learning the same content, but at their own level. This simple fact makes Newsela huge for differentiating a classroom!

For example, a recent article from the Orlando Sentinel, “SeaWorld won’t breed, replace unusual dolphins,” has a word count of 902 and is written at the 1140 lexile. It also can be read as:

“Unusual SeaWorld dolphins won’t be bred, replaced,” 728 words at a 990 lexile;
“SeaWorld won’t keep as many dolphins,” 575 words at a 730 lexile; and,
“Unusual SeaWorld dolphins won’t be replaced,” 263 word count at a 440 lexile level.

Students can be given a link to the main article and then choose the reading level that’s right for them. Teachers could pre-select the levels needed and have articles printed and ready to go. No more embarrassment for students who are reading at different levels. With appropriate vocabulary and varied word counts, learners are able to focus on content rather than struggling with the mechanics of reading. With more students able to fully engage with content, class discussions can move forward.

Ready-to-go text sets are available for science, literature, social studies and even individual states. This feature makes both lesson planning and student research easier.

Icons beneath the image for each featured story tell (and link to) the category it fits, the learning anchors it supports (lightbulb icon), and whether the article is available in Spanish (“ES” icon). A heart icon displays the number of times the article has been favorited by students, a social feature that also encourages interest. Students also have a lot of choice with Newsela since it categorizes articles by subjects like sports, money, kids, war, health and science. Beyond these categories, there is a search window so that any subject can be researched in Newsela.

Another great feature of Newsela is that it offers short, four-question comprehension quizzes for articles. The quizzes are at the same lexile as the article the student has just read. Writing prompts related to each article are also provided with established accounts.

As a librarian, I believe we will soon see the Newsela model widely duplicated by other content providers. Tools like this ensure that learners can continue to learn content at grade level while growing in literacy at their own personal rate.  Newsela is a game changer! Check it out!

In addition to being a published author, teacher librarian and Chair of the Information and Technology Resources Department at Kutztown Senior High School, Dr. Boyer also teaches courses for Eduspire, such as Virtualizing Your Library — a quick-start guide for K-12 librarians who want to maintain a vibrant online library in schools making digital shifts.