Friday, June 20, 2014

Sharing What Works: News ELA

I was reading through other bloggers posts about four or five months ago. There were a few teachers that were excited about this website that offered opportunities for kids to read about current events that interested them and then answer comprehension questions about what they read. I was sold when I heard it helped students with comprehension because that is a constant battle in my classroom. Also, it incorporated technology that my students loved using whether it was an iPad or a computer. Oh yeah, and it's common core aligned, can't beat that!

I knew from the beginning of the school year I wanted an independent activity for my higher functioning students and some of my lower students that could work a mouse. I loved the idea of an audio/listening area where students could listen to stories and then answer questions but, my elementary listening center wasn't what I felt a 7th or 8th grade student should be doing especially when the books I had on tape and CD from previous years of teaching were books like "If You Give A Mouse A Cookie". So, I was introduced to NewsELA. It is a website that takes current events and write articles or adapts them to be read by students of varying reading abilities. The lowest it goes is 3rd grade (not sure if they would take a suggestion and attempt to lower them even more). That's why I said it was good for my higher functioning students. It does go as high as 12th grade reading levels so for teachers of students in that reading ability it can be super useful.

One thing that is nice about it is you can pick articles based off your student's interests whether it is sports, money, the environment, health, the arts, animals, etc. I also got really technology crazy when I figured out how to take the articles and have it so it read them out loud to the students. I added both a button on the iPad for the students and a desktop icon to use it and on the computer. I set up their account and went from there.

Yes, it did take time to show them how to sign on and how to work the reading and the quizzes. However, I have to say that once they got it, it did not take long to get them using it everyday, independently, and it was keeping track of what they read, and their scores on the comprehension quizzes. Maybe if more teachers like the idea of this website we can contact them and ask for a lower reading level for some of our other students and let them be included on it as well. 

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