The Common Core provides a number of challenges to classroom teachers. One challenge is the requirement for the increased use of informational text within lessons. To utilize these texts effectively, teachers must provide materials at appropriate reading levels for each student as well as assess each student’s learning and growth.
A new website named Newsela provides innovative solutions for these challenges by providing engaging news articles that teachers can assign to students at one of four lexile levels and provides matching quizzes to assess comprehension. Although students need accounts to use Newsela, they do not need email accounts, and may be assigned usernames and passwords through a school district's Google domain. Teachers create an account at the Newsela website and receive a 5-digit code that their students use to join the class.
Teachers then assign articles to groups of students by standard, topic and lexile level, and monitor student work through a teacher dashboard called a “binder”. Students working online have their progress recorded automatically in both student and teacher binders, but hard copies of texts and quizzes may also be downloaded and printed.
Additionally, Newsela has partnered with the Reading and Writing Project at Columbia University Teachers College to identify some best practices for using Newsela in the classroom in large class, small group, and individual groupings. Supplementary lesson plans and ideas have been shared by schools in Newsela pilot projects and other innovative early adopters.