This week, I had the chance to work with Ruth’s English class. This class had a dozen fun-filled and very active 6th grade students and they were ready to learn. What Ruth and I had chatted about was working on standard number two: “determining central ideas or themes of a text and analyzing their development.” The question was, how to engage the students and then track their progress. The answer--use Newsela. If you haven’t checked out newsela.com, you need to. Newsela is an awesome free site that makes current events a reading adventure. As a teacher, you register, get a code and the rest is like frosting on top of a cake. Teachers have the ability to assign articles to students and then track progress according to six common core standards. Students have the ability to change the lexiles, so they can read at a level that is more suited to their ability and quizzes are geared to test reading comprehension.
But wait, we did one more great thing. Some of Ruth’s students struggle with reading. So, enter Google Chrome Extensions. First, we made sure that each student installed SpeakIt! as one of their extensions along with Google Dictionary. Then we modeled how to use Newsela with SpeakIt! and the dictionary. We read an article as a class, took the four question quiz, reviewed the quiz and then set out to enroll each student with an account of their own. The students were ready for the challenge and they loved it!