Review and Grade Student Work Faster Than Ever

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Collect, review, and grade work right from the article
Reviewing and keeping track of all your students’ work can take forever, and too much of your day is spent peeking over students’ shoulders, gathering and sorting papers, and recording grades.
To tackle this age-old issue, we’ve souped up the PRO teacher view of all Newsela articles. This update will improve your grading workflow and save you time, so you can focus on the thing you care about most: teaching. Just visit an article you’ve assigned and everything you need will be right there.
Clearly see when work is ready for review
Every time you visit an article on Newsela, a new left-hand sidebar will show you whether work has been done for that article in your classes. A red dot indicates that there is new work ready for you to review.
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Stay on top of each student’s progress
Your days of chasing down students for work are over. Click on a class to see individual student names on the left-hand sidebar, and watch as circular assignment icons appear next to their names in real time whenever a student completes a piece of work. Automatically know which students have completed their quizzes, annotations, and Write prompts without having to refresh the page — and know exactly when your class is ready to move on to the next part of the lesson.
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Review and grade work in a snap
Once you see that a student has completed work, simply click on his or her name to review and grade it on the right-hand side of your screen. No more jumping back and forth from your Binder to articles to complete your grading — everything you need is in one place.
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With this update, staying on top of student’s work is now easier than ever. Collect, review, grade. Done, done, and done. We can’t wait to hear what you think.
Yours in reading,
Dan Cogan-Drew
Newsela Co-Founder & Chief Product Officer

Your Reimagined Binder

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January is a second start to the school year — a time to reinforce the routines you’ve found most valuable and a time to commit to new habits that will put your students on the road to success. Each day, more educators are adding Newsela PRO and its suite of formative assessment tools to their daily classroom routines.

Over the last six months, we asked teachers like you how we could make the PRO Binder even more effective. You spoke up and we listened. Now, we’re thrilled to announce that the Binder is better than ever — just in time for a new beginning.

Time-saving navigation

Assessment results and other insights are automatically organized in your PRO Binder. Quickly jump between assessments, annotations, Write responses, and student insights with the Binder’s new simplified tabs and improved navigation. See performance by assignment and by student, and easily distinguish work done in class from independent reading. Spend less time grading, and more time teaching.

New student-level insights

Quiz scores are only part of the puzzle, so we added valuable new student-level insights, like standards mastery, reading level, time on article, and more to help you better understand how each student is progressing over time. With item analysis, you can now check for classwide understanding at a glance and know where you should direct your attention next. Break things down student by student, standard by standard, and question by question.

Support resources and feedback

We’re here to help you make the most out of these changes and add Newsela PRO to your 2017 routine. To get up to speed on your new PRO Binder, see our ever expanding set of Binder support resources, or register for one of our free Binder demos led by educator specialists. We rely on your suggestions to keep making our products better, so please send your feedback to community@newsela.com.

With these updates to the Binder, Newsela PRO continues to save you time and put critical insights at your fingertips. You can then use these insights to plan the activities, lessons, and assignments that will enable every student to do their best work.

Your work is never done, so neither is ours. Stay tuned for even more upgrades on the way.

Yours in reading,

Dan Cogan-Drew
Newsela Co-Founder & Chief Product Officer

Go Beyond the News With Library

To our valued educators,

We at Newsela believe students are being deprived of reading experiences that are essential and engaging. What do I mean by that? Think about everything you’d like your students to read – in order to be informed and confident dealing with the many types of media and rhetoric they’ll face in college, careers, and civic life.

There’s a good chance your list includes famous works such as the Declaration of Independence and Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, as well as lesser-known gems spanning a range of topics and genres. Perhaps Cesar Chavez’s powerful speech on workers’ rights, or a biography of someone like Confucius or Aretha Franklin, or maybe archaeologist Harold Carter’s diary entry from the day he discovered King Tut’s tomb. In other words, you want your students experiencing the actual words and lives that shape and illuminate the world in which we live.

Unfortunately, there’s an even higher chance that you don’t feel comfortable assigning many of these texts for fear that the reading will prove too challenging for your students. What do you do in that situation? Well, for decades you’ve had mainly two options. One, use a textbook, which more often than not offers a bland, oversimplified summary. Or two, skip it, and find something else.

Not anymore.

To upend this paradigm, we’re thrilled to introduce the Library, an ever-growing collection of leveled nonfiction content covering core subjects ranging from the arts and culture to history and government. Packed with biographies, famous speeches, primary source documents, essays, and news archives, the Library can help turn your teaching three-dimensional while building critical reading comprehension skills. Much of this content you know and love. Some of it will be new to you. All of it, you can be sure, has been selected and presented in a way that will add depth, variety, and rigor to your tried-and-true lessons.

So whether you use these resources as assignments to beef up background knowledge, or you set your students loose to conduct their own inquiries and research, you can know that they are enjoying an authentic reading experience, and one that is – as always – at the right level for them.

Happy reading,

Jennifer Coogan
Chief Content Officer at Newsela

Choose to go to the moon

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For nearly three years we’ve offered students a staircase to access topics of national and world significance that are otherwise out of reach. It thrills us when we hear from you telling us how your class discussed the refugee crisis in Europe or debated the use of encryption. Knowing that we’re feeding young brains with meaty issues to ponder is what gets us revved for Mondays. But we’re hungry to do more. So we asked ourselves, what other complex nonfiction is out of students’ reach?

We recently leveled biographies of the presidents. In doing so, we came across many famous quotes: “Ask not what your country can do for you…,” “The only thing we have to fear…,” “Four score and seven years ago….” We all know these words, but realized, to our surprise, we couldn’t really recall the full context in which they were uttered. So we went back and read the complete speeches. Goosebumps and watery eyes soon followed. That’s because great speeches don’t just inform and persuade. They evoke a physical reaction from their audience. But struggling or young readers may not be able to experience that sensation, because the writing, often intricate and archaic, is beyond their reading ability.

That students might miss the opportunity to experience the power of these words pained us. One hundred history textbooks combined cannot convey the inhumanity of slavery better than the 1,800 words of fury Frederick Douglass unleashed on an audience in Rochester, New York.

Listen to the address following the Challenger disaster, and you’ll never forget or wonder why Ronald Reagan was dubbed “the Great Communicator.”

That is why we dared to adapt these words, which many would deem sacred. We expect some will charge that we’ve given students an easy out to avoid the hard work of grappling with a complex text. We don’t see it that way. For us, the greater risk is that students never feel the full drama of these important moments in history. We want them to hear the original speeches and to absorb their meaning and appreciate the craft. Our intent is to help them “level up” to the point where they don’t just understand the words, but feel the goosebumps, too.

Some of the speeches in the collection (and those that follow) may seem very complex, and perhaps seem too hard for students to comprehend. Indeed, we had some doubts, but we drew encouragement from the words of President John F. Kennedy:

We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.

So choose to go to the moon. Assign your students something challenging and great. The past is rich in truly stirring words. Let’s make sure all our students know what it sounds like when they hear history in the making.

Jennifer Coogan is Chief Content Officer at Newsela.

Be Worldly: Newsela introduces its first international content partner, The Guardian

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According to the American Press Institute, roughly 59 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds surveyed follow international news — a lower percentage than any other older age group surveyed. In U.S. newspapers, the international news sections are consistently thinner than in European ones. Here at Newsela, though, we want to ensure students are always a click away from world news. That’s why we have decided to add our first international content partner: The Guardian. Based in the United Kingdom and founded in 1821, The Guardian content will help students become more informed in two ways — through exposure and through perspective.

By exposing students to more stories from Europe, Asia, Africa and the Middle East, we hope to bring more nuance to international news. Students can view Africa not only as a place of extreme poverty, but as a place of booming entrepreneurship and promise. They can see that the Middle East is not a place of seemingly endless violence, but a region that is persistent and dedicated in its fight for peace. And with this knowledge of the diverse, complicated world, students can gain better understanding of some of the concepts their teachers are trying to illustrate. Geography is no longer simply lines on a map, but hard-fought battles, cultural and religious clusters, and proximity to valued resources. Foreign countries are not just places visited in history books and travel guides. They are living, breathing places where people laugh, listen to music, and go to school – just like students in the United States.

While Newsela already has a wealth of content covering countries around the world, the stories are told by American media outlets. With content from The Guardian, we add a new perspective. Students can read about events and issues that affect the globe through an international lens. Topics like climate change, space travel and the protection of wildlife affect legislation all over the planet. How Tokyo chooses to tackle these problems may differ from the way they are dealt with in Paris, in Johannesburg, or in Washington, D.C. Providing news on these issues from an international publication allows students to become better informed on the topics at hand.

Students reading about these issues today — no matter where they live — may be responsible for the legislation that happens tomorrow. This makes a well-balanced and multi-dimensional perspective increasingly imperative. We feel strongly that The Guardian (and other international content to come) will provide a wealth of knowledge, perspectives and ultimately, we hope, understanding.

Using Newsela’s Text Sets In Your Science Classroom

Teachers across the country are asking, “How can I address the Common Core Learning Standards (CCLS) when I have a full year worth of science standards to teach?” Some science teachers even feel that including literacy instruction means giving up their science focus. Newsela’s new text sets, which address disciplinary core ideas from the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), show that literacy and science instruction do not have to be at odds.

Newsela is a powerful tool for science teachers. Students can choose which articles they want to read from a list of articles covering each science standard. Every article on Newsela also comes with five different reading levels, so struggling and advanced readers can use texts written just for them. To make literacy instruction easy, every article includes a CCLS aligned quiz, which helps teachers track their students’ reading progress and understanding.

One Standard, Many Ways To Teach It

Newsela’s text sets for science come with diverse sets of articles, helping science teachers thoroughly explain each standard and find crosscutting ideas. Take, for example,  ESS3.C Human Impacts On Earth Systems. The standard is simple enough: responsible management of resources or development of new technologies will help sustain the Earth systems and the natural resources key to our survival. The easiest solution might have been for students to look at the problem from just one angle.

For instance, how does drought influence agriculture and what can we do to mitigate the problem? How is air pollution influencing human health and what can we do about it? But what about invasive species, ocean acidification, or the dangers of industrial or chemical runoff? Newsela’s text sets allow teachers to address the many aspects of these topics at once, helping students develop a multidimensional understanding of the standard.

The ESS3.C text set includes more than 50 articles that address the standard in some way. The breadth of topics found offer an opportunity to meet CCLS standards while also teaching science topics that cannot be fully covered in a simple lab or lecture.

Make Science + Literacy = Success In The Classroom

Here are some tips for using text sets for science to address science standards and CCLS information text standards at the same time:

  • Finding Evidence: Ask students to find evidence for a standards aligned statement or question. (e.g. How can human activity influence Earth’s systems?) Students can use Newsela’s annotation system to find the evidence or record it in a document. They can share evidence and use it to write an essay, create a slideshow, or a write a letter to a community or political leader.
  • Summarizing: Ask students to write a short summary (no more than 30 words) of an article in the context of the appropriate science standard.
  • Analyzing connections and interactions: Have students make a diagram, flow chart, or graph showing the interaction between the systems in the article. Have them write a title and caption for their diagram. Use the diagrams for a gallery walk with your students.
  • Get Creative: Have your class create a class book or field guide. Students could also design and perform their own experiments based on articles they read on Newsela. They might also write and perform a skit, song, poem or presentation on one of the science standards or concepts.

Lastly, Newsela’s science articles give students a glimpse into how the lessons they learn in class might apply to the real world. If a student is particularly inspired by an article about NASA being underfunded, or by a piece of misinformation being spread among the science community, ask them to write to their local member of Congress or write an opinion piece of their own.

If you enjoyed this post or use Newsela in your science classroom, you might try making text sets of your own. Let us know how you create a symbiotic relationship between science and literacy by tweeting @Newsela.

Gregry Livingston is an Earth science and computer science teacher.  He is also an education writer and program developer who has designed and implemented innovative programming for Galileo Learning, the New York Expanded Success Initiative, and other education organizations.  Gregry is a regular assessment contributor for Newsela.com.  He has degrees from Columbia University and Brooklyn College.

Top 6 Blog Posts of 2015

This has been a busy year for us at Newsela. We’ve been hard at work improving the site and adding features that matter most to educators. We launched our blog back in May to keep you up-to-date with all the latest news, provide best practices based on data, and feature inspiring educator stories. Here’s a look back at the top posts this year.

6. What’s in a Name? For Newsela, it’s a Science

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One reason why we’re not News-E-L-A is that we’re not just for ELA teachers. In fact, more than 60 percent of Newsela educators teach subjects other than ELA. With new features like Español and Newsela for Science, it’s never been easier to make cross-curricular connections with Newsela. Read on to discover some of our all-time most read science articles.

5. Supporting Spanish-Speaking Students As Never Before

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Spanish language content was one of the most-requested features, and we’re happy to offer 200+ Spanish articles, with more being added daily. Read the post for more on why Newsela Español is close to our hearts.

4. 6 Ways to Encourage Students to Keep up With Current Events

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Inspired by a New York Times survey of students’ most-followed news topics, our staff tracked down some tried-and-tested methods for engaging students with current events. Find them here.

3. The State of Text Sets (or Vice Versa)

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We want to make sure you have the best possible resources to make cross-curricular connections through the news, and Text Sets are a big part of that equation. Our content team has curated Text Sets for literature, science, social studies and U.S. states. Check out the announcement and read how students applied these Text Sets in the Newsela In Your Community writing contest entries.

2. Share Your Newsela Goals

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Newsela educators of all stripes shared what they hope to achieve with Newsela this school year. Here are a few of our favorite #newselagoals:

“My grade 7-9 LA students are reading Newsela articles that connect what they are learning in science and social.” Noreen

“Next quarter, I hope to employ the Spanish articles to help my ESL students raise their overall reading comprehension.” Katie

“My goal is quite simple: To create lifelong readers! I especially want them to enjoy nonfiction.” Lori

1. Kathy DeBona’s Students Take Action and Give Back

One of our favorite stories of impact, this guest post from educator Kathy DeBona details an unforgettable experience for herself and her students, as well as a colleague.

“I think I’m always going to try new things now, because I never know if I can do it, unless I actually try to do it.”

Thanks for being part of our amazing community. We can’t wait to continue the journey with you next year.

 

 

We’re All Reading Teachers: Building Literacy in Science Class

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Each spring, I looked forward to introducing my sixth-grade class to our Weather & Climate unit. By this point in the year, the students could reference previous studies, such as our lessons on Energy & Ecosystems, which could lead to some “ah-ha” moments. I also loved this unit because it was easy to draw connections to the world around them and have students engage in meaningful research on Global Climate Change.

As a final project, my students researched forms of alternative energy and inferred how these new human influences could redefine climate patterns. They were able to synthesize the content and were eager to make broader connections with the real world. Students would ask, “Mr. Janikis, can we build solar panels?” and “Why doesn’t our school run on wind turbines?”

Since climate change is a hot topic, I always had a lot of choices in the readings we could use, but struggled to find articles that were best fit to their learning levels.

With Newsela for Science, leveled articles from Scientific American and other leading publications that are aligned with Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), we hope to change that.

Each collection is curated to the themes of key performance expectations. Educators can apply crosscutting concepts to relate cause-and-effect relationships in the articles. Or they can be used as a planning tool and research resource for eager students who want to evaluate and discuss scientific solutions and applications to real-world problems.

With the creation of the Common Core and Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), students are challenged to make real-world connections and think critically about the content presented in front of them. This three-dimensional learning encourages students to not only learn the concept, such as alternative energy, but be able to explain examples and design solutions based on evidence from a text or hands-on investigation.

As a teacher, I appreciate the guidance of these standards and understand the need for rigor. Students can grow in their critical thinking and better grasp the importance of science in their everyday lives. With so many new demands and expectations, it is increasingly valuable for teachers to have resources that help them implement these standards and, equally important, support science literacy.

I love the creativity of planning a unit and appreciate when I have a bank of resources to guide my work. Newsela for Science was created to help bring science to life in the classroom and remove obstacles to applying NGSS.

Science education is an incredible journey, and we hope to be partners on this quest with you.

Want to score some science swag? Share an article you’ll be using in the classroom with the tag #NewselaForScience to claim your prize. Available while supplies last.

JJ Janikis is Newsela’s Educator Specialist. He is a former middle school special education science educator. He most recently was the sixth-grade Integrated Co-Teacher at Mott Hall II in New York City.

¡A leer se ha dicho with Spanish-Language Content on Newsela!

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A native Spanish speaker and learner of the English language, I walked into my kindergarten classroom a curious child and walked out feeling disappointed, con mi corazón roto. Frustration was a common feeling associated with school when my parents were unable to help with my homework.

Years later, after many hours of working with two-way immersion programs, extensive research on summer literacy programs and the use of Spanglish in higher education, I find myself working for Newsela. It is the tool my family and I needed years ago. School resources for ELLs have come a long way since then. Newsela publishes relevant and thought-provoking nonfiction Spanish content at five levels of complexity for grades 2-12. Every article is accompanied by Common Core-aligned quizzes. Newsela was conceived to empower all students to learn at their own reading level, without isolating anyone based on reading level – or language.

Our beliefs

  1. Language should not be a barrier for engaging in cohesive and meaningful conversation in a classroom. Newsela believes that all students in the classroom should have access to the same relevant content and a chance to join the larger conversation. Language should not be a barrier for classroom discussion and inclusion. Everyone in the classroom should have access to the same content at whatever level or language is most appropriate.
  1. Valuing language differences. Students perform better when they feel valued, so celebrating diversity and differences in languages is important in ensuring an inviting learning space for all. By allowing students to read in their native Spanish alongside their peers, teachers allow students to recognize their own inherent value. Furthermore, research shows there is much benefit in maintaining and developing bilingualism both cognitively and socially. Everyone has a voice; our job is to ensure everyone feels they have a right to use it.
  1. Integration not segregation. Language acquisition is often viewed as something that needs to happen outside of the content learning spaces, but this only alienates students. Research and practice recognize that students acquire language through the attainment of content knowledge. Put another way, studying abroad works best for acquiring a second language because one is immersed in the language in a contextual and real meaningful way, rather than separating language from context. Classroom settings should emulate these fundamental schools of thought. In short, language acquisition through content knowledge rather than language-only lessons are not only found to be more inclusive, but more effective too.

You can support your students with these Newsela features:

Daily Spanish Articles And Quizzes

We publish high interest and relevant nonfiction articles daily. Support your Spanish-speaking students by providing interesting and thought-provoking content that their English-speaking peers are also reading. Track their reading comprehension with the Common Core-aligned quizzes. Switch between Spanish and English to expose English Language Learners to leveled text in both languages. Cultivate an empowering learning space for your diverse students by valuing the language differences in your classroom.

Spanish Text Sets

Get your students thinking and talking about important issues as they build their background knowledge on a topic by browsing through our Spanish Text Sets.

Spanish Paired Text Set Writing Prompts

We pair two articles and pose critical questions to get students to start finding connections between issues or topics using Spanish Paired Text Sets.

Webinar Invitation

Dive in! Join us for our ¡Explora Newsela Español! webinar. Learn more about how to access Spanish articles, Spanish Text Sets and Spanish paired Text Set writing prompts to apply to your daily classroom practice. You will have the opportunity to ask all of your questions and have them answered in real time with a member of our Spanish content team.

Register here.

Evelyn Quezada is is a bilingual (English/Spanish) life learner, researcher and lover of life. She works on Spanish editorial and assessment as part of Newsela’s content team.

Behind the Scenes: New Search and Navigation

“Hello, I am having trouble finding my text sets.” 

“I have ‘favorited’ several articles. How do I find my list of favorites?”

“While there are aspects of Newsela that I truly like, when I go to the website there is no way to find the crosswords, text sets, etc.”

We receive hundreds of notes like these every week from passionate teachers who are engaging their students with Newsela in their classroom every day. Over the past few months, we’ve been collecting feedback and suggestions from our educator community and applying our design thinking on how to improve the discovery of relevant content on Newsela.

Today, we are excited to launch a modern and more powerful search and navigation tool that makes it easier find what you are looking for on Newsela.

With more than 1,600 differentiated articles and hundreds of teacher-created Text Sets, Newsela has become an essential tool for educators all over the world. But, until now, there’s never been an easy way to find all the Newsela resources available to teachers, students, and parents.

Better, More Relevant Search

As we went back to the drawing board, we thought deeply about how we could build a solution that would work across many different content types. By focusing our efforts on improving the search interface as well as the relevance of search results, we believed we could better connect teachers and students to the content they were looking for. 

We put search functionality front and center and designed it so that you instantly start seeing results as you start your search. In addition, we redesigned how we display relevant results so you can easily find what you are looking for at a glance. We also added advanced search functionality to help you further narrow your search if you needed to.

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In addition to improving the search bar, we also expanded search functionality to surface Text Sets, one of our most popular features, as well as content from our Learning and Support section. 

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Simpler Navigation

As we tackled site navigation redesign, we spent a lot of time thinking about how to balance functional needs like “teachers will want to find x” or “students will need quick access to y” while making sure our product design stayed modern and current.

One of the first things we realized is that we placed too much emphasis on content “categories” while providing no real estate for other important content types like Text Sets.

To solve for this, we focused on removing friction from our navigation experience. With this update, navigating Newsela takes less space while doing more. The new design surfaces more content without being tied to a specific category paradigm. Relevant content is now a click away, and you can now browse curated content from our Editors as well as most loved articles. 

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To learn more about our new search and navigation, visit our Learning and Support center

Brian James is the Director of User Experience at Newsela. For over 10 years he has designed user experiences for numerous interactive agencies and startups in San Francisco and New York. His work has been written about in the New York Times, Mashable, Business Insider, ESPN, Bloomberg, Forbes and Yahoo Finance.