Newsela

Finding informational text for the many and varied levels of student reading abilities in any classroom can be a challenge. Having a source that allows teachers to track student progress by Common Core Standards is even more difficult to find. That’s where Newsela comes in.  Newsela – unlimited access to hundreds of leveled news articles and Common Core–aligned quizzes, with new articles every day.

The product first became available in beta in June 2013. The team eventually plans to charge a subscription for the product.

The idea behind Newsela has been something of a holy grail for literacy programs: Create a way to present leveled texts, appropriate for a wide variety of learners. Newsela starts by selecting news stories published by McClatchy-Tribune papers that are likely to have some interest or relevance to students. (McClatchy-Tribune is a partner.) Newsela has hired journalists to rewrite those stories at different grade levels. Each story is published at four different Lexile reading levels as well as in its original form.

Students take short quizzes, aligned with Common Core standards and associated with the different Lexile levels to assess their comprehension. If they struggle with the quiz, they can read the story at a lower Lexile level (or similarly at a more complex level if they ace the quizzes). Because all students get a chance to absorb the same material, however, teachers can lead class discussions on the article topics with all students, no matter what their reading level. Newsela includes a dashboard of analytics so that teachers can track student progress.

How to Get Started?

1. Sign up for FREE account.

Newsela

2. Browse articles and assign to a class.

Teachers can browse articles looking for appropriate content by scrolling through the home page or by selecting one of the categories shown at the top.  While browsing for articles, notice that some articles have an anchor icon with a number next to it which indicates that it is aligned with a Common Core Standard. Those articles that are aligned with Standards also have a quiz that will ask students to answer multiple choice questions as well as prompting them to find evidence in the text to answer a question. Open an article that you’d like your class to read then click on the “Assign to” button and choose the appropriate class.

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3. Show students how to use their Binder to track progress.

Students access assigned articles by going into their individual Binder. There they’ll see a list of assigned and completed articles.  They will be able to track their overall average score as well as the average score by Standard. After selecting an assigned article to read, students can answer the quiz questions (which vary by Lexile level) and see the results immediately as well as review any incorrect responses. Students are also free to make their own reading choices by browsing through articles and selecting ones that interest them or will help them to develop skills associated with the Common Core Standards. The progress in reading these articles is also tracked by both the student and the teacher.

4. Use the teacher management tools to track student and class progress.

Teachers have a binder where completion of articles and quizzes can be viewed and progress tracked by article, student or class. Average scores for all quizzes can be seen as well as average scores by Standard. These results can be exported into an excel spreadsheet.

In my opinion, the strengths of this website are the multiple levels of text complexity available, the alignment to Common Core Standards, the immediate feedback from quizzes and the tracking tools for both the teacher and student.

How is Newsela aligned to the Common Core Standards?

Every article that has a quiz is aligned to a single Common Core Standard for Reading Informational Text. See http://www.corestandards.org/ELA-Literacy/CCRA/R They currently cover reading standards 1-4 and 6-8. We have plans to include all reading standards 1-10.  Aligning a single article and all of the quizzes – at every level – to these standards allows Newsela to provide teachers and students with a standards-based report on reading achievement. With this data, a teacher is better informed about the grade level reading ability of their students along specific college-ready standards, such as: “Analyze how and why individuals, events, or ideas develop and interact over the course of a text.” (Standard 3).
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WordHippo

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A dictionary tells you the meaning of a word.  WordHippo tells you the meaning and also finds synonyms, antonyms, words that rhyme with it, sentences containing it, other words starting or ending with it, translations of word.  The service also provides students with verb conjugation assistance, and pronunciation assistance.

Hopscotch: Coding for kids, a visual programming language

Hopscotch: Coding for kids, a visual programming language.

Hopscotch teaches kids to code using simple, intuitive building blocks. Kids can create games, animations and other programs in this colorful, interactive environment.

HopScotch is an excellent iPad app dedicated to teaching kids the coding language. HopScotch’s functionality is an “easy-to-use visual programming language” that enables kids to create their own games and animations.

Quick Guide:

This is a step-wise of creating code for a basic function of a game. Open the application, press “new” to start a new project and choose any object as your character from the list of many. Inspired by MIT’s Scratch, the Hopscotch programming language works by dragging and dropping blocks into scripts. If you want your character to move left and right when you tilt your iPad in the respective direction, the program in the form of steps is as follows. A title “When I press the play” is displayed, click on that drop down menu and select “When I tilt the iPad right”. Go to top left corner, click on “motion”, drag the “move” coding block over underneath command. You may change the size of the coding block according to the distance you want your character to move. Once you’re done with this, press play and tilt your iPad towards the right, you will see the object moving right. This app lets your kids realize that coding is just the way of telling iPad to do things. If you want the object to move left when you tilt the iPad left, hit “new script”,  repeat the same procedure and assign negative sign to the size of the “move” coding block. This action lets kids know the relation between the direction and sign. As you get more advanced, you can add more objects and use custom events, such as shaking and tilting the iPad to run your code.

HopScotch empowers kids to do anything they can imagine and enables them to play at any level they’re comfortable with.

 

MaKey MaKey

MaKey MaKey is an invention kit for the 21st century. Turn everyday objects into touchpads and combine them with the internet. It’s a simple Invention Kit for Beginners and Experts doing art, engineering, and everything in between.

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Any material that can conduct at least a tiny bit of electricity will work. Here are some materials people have used in our workshops including Ketchup, Pencil Graphite, Finger Paint, Lemons, etc.