A Common Core–aligned website has taken on the uniquely twofold endeavor of getting students interested about current events while using a text-leveling process to ensure they’re meeting grade-specific reading standards. Newsela, founded by Matthew Gross, was launched in June 2013, and it publishes dozens of popular news articles daily. Topics include health, science, arts, sports and law. With the help of staff editors, current events articles from news sources like the Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times, Miami Herald, Philadelphia Inquirer, Scientific American and Associated Press news feeds are adapted into a range of five different levels of reading complexities. Using the Common Core–preferred Lexile measure, each article has been re-tailored so that students with different reading abilities can read the same article in the same classroom.

Stressing the importance of nonfiction in the curriculum of Common Core education, Newsela allows students to become involved with nonfiction material through articles and quizzes aligned to the Common Core State Standards. These multiple-choice quizzes provide questions that suit Common Core expectations for critical thinking and close reading. There is also a Write function in which students compose a written response to a question. Additionally, students can make notes and highlight text using the built-in annotate tool. Newsela Pro, the paid version of the platform, takes this one step further: Teachers can use the annotation feature to highlight text and ask questions throughout the article to which students may respond. It is with these integrative interface options that Newsela can provide a unique experience for students.

With technology becoming increasingly important in the classroom, Newsela has become a popular educational tool that allows teachers to bring nonfiction reading into their curriculum. Not only can educators assign news articles with accessible quiz and written response functions; the site also allows teachers to record student progress, including assessment results and any annotations made to the text. Additionally, the tools provide a visual format that clearly shows student results, allowing educators to see how students are faring against their peers and against the Common Core expectations. The battery of tools allows teachers to adapt their curriculum to specific student needs, assuring that each student can successfully reach the required standards.

Parents and guardians are often encouraged to stay involved with the Common Core and their child’s progress. Newsela accommodates this by allowing parents to create an account that has the same functions available to them as a teacher. This allows the benefits of nonfiction reading to be brought into the home and to connect parents with the process. The parental account lets students and parents share the learning process, and this includes involving the parents [PDF link] in how the Common Core State Standards are being applied, as well as keeping them informed of their child’s learning strengths and educational progress.

When Newsela is utilized to its fullest potential, teachers, parents and students can work together to create a positive online learning experience. The integration of nonfiction articles with the Common Core, along with reading level flexibility and methods to assess learning, make this platform an exciting tool in the educational field.

Did You Know?

Magazines are one fun and interactive hands-on way to bring nonfiction material into classrooms. One of these includes Time For Kids, which is an educational spinoff of Time magazine and has been produced specifically for grades K–6. Topics cover real-world issues while also bringing helpful features into the mix, such as prompts, special editions and test-prep sections, among other things. Most excitingly, they have begun to adapt material to the Common Core, indicating a commitment to integrating the standards into their material to assist teachers with their curricula.