Welcome to the first of a weekly shot of practicality. Every Tuesday, you get a new tool. That might be a website, a concept, a pieced of software or even a piece of advice. This week, we start off with a very promising website: Newsela.
Each day, a half dozen new stories appear. If you sign up as a member, you can get reminders about each batch of new stories. But the best thing about Newsela is that you can change each story, depending on your vocabulary level.
The magic part of this site is the level bar, where you can set the level of vocabulary all the way from 650 (2nd or 3rd grade elementary in the US), up to 1210, or about a senior in high school. Max is the unfiltered article.
Included are suggestions for writing, and comprehension quizzes, all graded to the levels.
If you sign up as a teacher, you can include things is your “binder” and give “assignments” to your students.
I have used this in class with small groups, assigning different levels to different members, and asking them to summarize in order of levels, to each other. The most remarkable thing is how similar those summaries are, at the beginning. After a few articles, students know how detailed they need to be with their summaries.
This a great way to teach synonyms and other vocabulary, as well as leading into a discussion or writing activity. Highly recommended, I attended a Google Educator Summit in Kobe in February, and not one, but two of the speakers mentioned this site.