What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Newsela is a website that offers kids the chance to read about current events at the level they're comfortable with. When kids sign up, they'll need to click on an email-verification link to get started. Once registered, you'll receive a start-up code that family members can use to log in. Kids will need to register separately with their own usernames and passwords, enter the code, and view articles you've selected.
What kids can learn
Language & Reading
- reading comprehension
- text analysis
- power structures
- global awareness
Thinking & Reasoning
- analyzing evidence
- thinking critically
- academic development
- personal growth
Engagement, Approach, Support
Parents can assign articles to kids to help guide them through the process; users also can add brief comments to point out key passages and writing techniques. Major discussion likely will need to take place offline, though.
Kids will learn about national and international events and science, art, money, law, health, and other topics. The site can help them practice reading and strengthen reading-comprehension skills in the process.
The site offers some special promotions, such as a summer reading challenge, to encourage kids to read, but there aren't many extras for parents or teachers.
What's it about?
NEWSELA is updated daily with news from regional newspapers and other publications. Articles are available for five reading levels, ranging from third grade to high school. Some have quizzes that test comprehension. The Common Core-aligned content is split into various sections, such as science, money, and health. Parents assign articles and monitor what kids read. Kids and adults can add article comments to highlight portions or ask question. Registration is free; a paid subscription also is available for schools.
Is it any good?
Newsela isn't an overly complex site -- parents select articles for kids, kids log in and read them, and parents monitor their progress. Some articles feature detailed quizzes that help determine whether or not kids have understood what they've read. However, a fair amount of articles don't; parents will need to comment online or offline about them to make sure kids are building stronger reading-comprehension skills.
The comment feature is a nifty addition; it lets parents and kids touch base on what they're reading. And the articles are, for the most part, well written: The topics are age-appropriate, and kids can access different versions that range in detail based on their reading levels, which helps customize the experience. Newsela posts three new articles a day, so kids probably won’t end up spending hours on the site; however, for families trying to curb kids' internet usage, that may not be a bad thing.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about how news is covered. Ask your child to point out the who, what, when, where, and why elements in an article.
Can your child identify key differences between legitimate news sources, such as a newspaper, and online gossip or opinion sites? Discuss how to tell whether a site can be considered a reputable information source.
Show your child a few websites that have narrative writing and opinion-based pieces, such as a column, and then share a few examples of articles that illustrate impartial newswriting. Can your child tell the difference between the two forms?