5 Reasons to Use Newsela

There are so many websites out there with great materials, and many of them, including News in Levels, Breaking News English, and others, use current events as the basis of their articles or videos. Today, I want to share with you five reasons to use Newsela with your students.

1. It’s Easy to Get Started
Newsela makes it easy to get started for both educators and learners. Educators simply answer a couple of questions and can even use their Google account information to sign up and log in, which is always my preference because that means one less password to forget—I mean, remember. Learners can sign up by entering the class code you provide, which adds them directly to your Newsela class, or they can create accounts on their own separate from any specific class. Unlike some websites, anyone accessing content on the Newsela site will need to have an account in order to have full access. This is important because if you choose to assign a reading from Newsela, sharing the link will still not allow students to read the entire article unless they have accounts and are signed in.

2. Newsela Is Free!
You and your students can access the whole library of articles and their quizzes once you have set up your accounts. As the teacher of the class, you will be able to see some feedback related to student work, for example how many students took a particular quiz and what the average score was, but not a fully detailed report, such as which students took the quiz and what individual scores were. For that information, you would need to upgrade to Newsela Pro, which you may decide to get or not after trying out the basic version. If you already use an LMS like D2L or Edmodo, there is a workaround for this because you could easily create quizzes on that platform and use Newsela for reading only.

3. Extensive Topic Choices
There are so many articles to choose from and such a wide array of topics on Newsela. Some websites have great content, but not for the topics I am looking for, and others make searching for content a nightmare, but not Newsela. I was reminded of this just last week when searching for articles about bison and Hutterites because I teach in South Dakota and we had a field trip coming up to a nature preserve and a Hutterite colony. I was amazed to find articles on both of these topics; Newsela has now become my go-to for supplemental reading material. You can find readings on various topics in three tabs: library, news, and text sets, which are small collections of readings on similar topics. Personally, I just go to the main page and search the entire site using one or two keywords.

4. It’s Easy to Differentiate
Because each article on Newsela has five levels, sometimes ranging from a second-grade to twelfth-grade level, it is possible to truly differentiate your instruction for a mixed-level classroom. Not only the articles but also the quizzes change from one level to the next, meaning that students can be given materials that suit their level and still be able to participate in a whole class discussion on the same topic. Students can also be encouraged to read the content at a level that is comfortable for them at home, but then come to class prepared to tackle a more challenging level within a group. Since more details are added at the higher levels, repeated readings at increasingly challenging levels will yield more information and continue to engage students with the topic.

5. Support and Community
Finally, there is a whole support system including FAQs, videos, webinars, classroom resources, and the Newsela educator community to help you and your students be successful using Newsela. If you have any questions, look for the learning & support page for help and you are sure to find the answers you are seeking. Once you are up and running on Newsela, you can be the expert at your institution who people turn to for assistance.

So there you have it, five awesome reasons to use Newsela this school year and in the future. If the topic seems a little familiar, it is probably because guest writer Rebecca Palmer mentioned Newsela in her post about independent online reading practice earlier this year. Feel free to share how you use Newsela and other resources by leaving a comment below.

About Tara Arntsen

Tara Arntsen
Tara Arntsen recently completed her Master's degree in Teaching-TESOL at the University of Southern California. She currently teaches in the Intensive English Program at Northern State University in Aberdeen, South Dakota. She has taught ESOL in China, Japan, and Cambodia as well as online. Her primary interests are communicative teaching methods and the use of technology in education.
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2 Responses to 5 Reasons to Use Newsela

  1. Joan Wink says:

    NEWSELA: The international teachers, whom I teach in Mallorca Spain, every summer love, love, love Newsela.

    • Tara Arntsen Tara Arntsen says:

      Thank you for commenting, Joan! It’s easy to see why they would love Newsela. It would be interesting to hear about how others are using it in the classroom.

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