Prepping for the Test with Newsela

With the pressure of preparing our students for upcoming standardized tests, we want to be mindful to not focus our teaching primarily on the TEST. When teachers focus their teaching on the test, it affects meaningful learning, lack of motivation, and a curriculum that is too structured without flexibility. By using Newsela for test prep or teaching nonfiction, students are engaged in deeper, more authentic, and meaningful learning. Newsela is a free, reading-leveled, nonfiction and current events website and app.

With Newsela, students are immersed in using higher-order thinking through articles that are current and of interest to them. Students learn to understand what they are reading instead of reading for basic comprehension. And, the articles can be modified for the skill levels of the students and lead to further class discussion. Teachers teach the standards that are being tested through the various articles. Just implement Newsela into the curriculum throughout the year, and students don’t even realize they are also preparing for standardized testing.

1. Selecting Topics and Skills

Teachers have the option to select current events, biographies, history, science, and other literature sets. With “Binders,” articles can be saved for further use. With Newsela, they select the grade level and reading skill they want to focus. There’s even a Spanish translation for ESL students.


2. New Features

Make sure to check out all of Newsela’s new features to the site and app. For Women’s History Month, teachers no longer have to search through articles and books for biographies of famous women. Notice that the articles on “Cultivating Close Reading” focus on specific skills. These are perfect for teaching core standards and preparing for standardized tests.
Information overload continues to bring the need for teaching media literacy.  Today’s students are not equipped with the skills necessary to differentiate between real and fake news. Newsela has partnered with teachers and Scholastic News to present best practices and resources for teaching media literacy. Newsela now provides different articles and activities to help students develop media literacy.
 I use Newsela as a resource for my project based learning (pbl) units. It can be used to introduce background information to global problems and issues. While teaching pbl, I’m able to incorporate other curricula into the unit through these amazing articles.

3. Differentiation and Customization

Even though Newsela is free, there’s an option for teachers to purchase the pro version. With the upgrade, teachers can customize the questions and writing prompts. When students select an article, they choose the length of the article according to their individual reading level, an option for a writing prompt, and then be assessed with a four question multiple choice quiz.
With Newsela, test prep can be motivating and no longer stressful for you and for your students. By engaging them in authentic tasks, they will be well informed with current events and prepared to ace the test!


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