ISTE 2017: Newsela Announces Team Growth and More Product Offerings Specifically To Address The Reading Engagement Gap
The team at Newsela is serious about students reading. Their platform allows students to partake in today’s relevant news across a wide range of topics found in trusted news sources. Newsela wants to super charge reading engagement and one of the easiest ways to do that is with news and current events that matter to students. This approach is known to be more favorable than normal, sometimes outdated subject reading.
What if for science, students could read about how a Chinese chemistry experiment gone wrong, led to the invention of fireworks? What if the social studies lesson could be about how George Washington made ice cream popular and not Ben & Jerrys. What if for math, students could read about how many title games Lebron James, Michael Jordan and Steph Curry have played in? That would make things much more interesting and student more engaged.
Newsela takes content from partners like The Associated Press, The Washington Post, The Guardian, National Geographic and many others and rewrites the articles at five reading levels, making the news more accessible and appropriate, for all ages. The company has baked in assessment and tracking tools so that teachers can keep up with what the students are reading.
Newsela is first and foremost a reading tool. But the company is finding that teachers are able to take current events that may be causing reactions in class, and point students to the relevant articles about those events. Now students can come up with their own opinions on the subject matter, over what they may hear at home, or in the community. Over 13 million students with over 1 million teachers are using Newsela.
At ISTE 17, last week in San Antonio, the company announced more initiatives to put reading engagement first, starting with staffing with key hires including Chris Mezzetasta, Chief Revenue Officer, Aimee Fearon, Chief Financial Officer, Lori Ostenfeld Chief People Officer, Scott Sokoloff, Chief Data Scientist, Angel Geden, Director of Instructional Content, and the promotion of Alex Wu to the executive team as Vice President of Marketing.
“I am so proud of the growth we have seen over the last year; however, our team knows we still face an uphill battle when 1 out of 5 students report feeling actively disengaged at school. The vision for this expansion is to have Newsela at the core the classroom. We want to go beyond the textbook and help create an instructional content experience for the digital classroom era,” said Matthew Gross, “You’re also going to see a lot of new features layered on the texts themselves, making them more interactive…all beginning this fall” said Matthew Gross, Newsela Founder and CEO.
The following three features will be rolling out on the Newsela platform in the fall of 2017
· Newsela Units (beginning with U.S. History)
· Power Words for vocabulary
· Increased elementary content for younger readers
Newsela has always provided an incredible amount of differentiated, engaging, and unique content, but now the company is doing even more for their growing community of teachers across subject areas. Newsela is organizing the content and pairing it with instructional suggestions to better align with the curriculum and help save teachers time.
· Units organizes Newsela articles related to commonly taught topics by sequencing and drawing connections between articles. Units was created as a planning resource to help teachers streamline the curriculum design process.
· Unlike textbooks, Newsela can include unique articles and current events content in addition to standard, expected content.
· Modeled after how teachers do their curriculum planning, each Unit is packed with content and resources. Units come with high level Guiding Questions that help teachers frame their instruction. A Unit breaks down into 3 Topics. Within the Topics there are more bite-sized, classroom-ready elements called PRO Text Sets, which pair specific articles with tips and strategies for teachers to use the content immediately in their classroom.
With the launch of Power Words, Newsela is using best practices to help students learn vocabulary. Rather than memorizing a list of words just to “teach to the test”, Newsela Power Words allows students to encounter new words naturally in the context of an article they are reading.
· The definitions that appear to students are student-friendly and level-friendly. Plus, they define the word as it is being used in the article.
· The words highlighted in articles are high-frequency and high-utility (known as “tier 2 words”, so students who master these words will be well prepared to read complex texts across a variety of subjects.
· Power Words provides a series of low-stakes practice activities at the end of an article that allow students to practice the words.
· Students add words and points to their individual “Word Wall,” which is a visual and fun way to keep track of the words they’ve learned. Teachers can monitor individual and class progress against a yearly goal.
· Newsela will also be dramatically expanding the selection of content for younger readers. Starting in the Fall, we will begin publishing 3 new articles per day for elementary readers, bringing the total new articles a day to more than 10.
Go check out Newsela now at newsela.com