Newsela – An educational technology tool for teachers

NEWSELA:

Newsela is a website that provides non-fiction current event articles on multiple subjects. Subject examples include war and peace, science, money, law, kids, health, arts, and sports. Newsela offers a free service or a paid optimized service. From my teaching experience this past school year, I had the opportunity to see Newsela utilized in the classroom. With today’s movement to common core, Newsela brings an opportunity to increase non-fiction reading and critical analysis to not only a teacher’s language arts curriculum, but also to related school subjects that may be addressed by the varying Newsela articles. The site overs the same articles in up to 5 different reading levels. This allows teachers to incorporate their lessons with students that may struggle with reading or the English language. Each article ends with critical thinking questions relating to the article as well.

Newsela Tutorial:

The Pitfalls:

As long as the website is maintained and articles continue to be varied, current, and available in different reading levels, I don’t see any major pitfalls to this new technological tool. All you need is access to the internet, and a method to print out multiple copies for your students. Now, making the copies for each student everyday may be the biggest pitfall there is. A teacher could easily use a classroom textbook that each student has instead of Newsela articles. However, teachers could be missing out on an exciting way of teaching not only reading and critical analysis skills, but also incorporating different subject matter in the process. To me, the biggest deterrent to this will be that the teacher will need to select a new article each day and make copies for each student.

Newsela Website and Sample Articles:

https://newsela.com/

https://newsela.com/articles/genetics-future/id/2602/

https://newsela.com/articles/Wisconsin-earthquakes/id/4832/

Newsela’s Future:

Newsela is a great resource for teachers that I believe will be welcomed by many in the education field. Will this be around in the future? It depends. I believe Newsela will be around if it is able to be financially sound. I would think that it costs a lot of money to have a great variety of articles at varying degrees of reading levels. But, if they can continue to maintain a sufficient paid membership and continue to get financial support, I can easily see Newsela becoming a household name decades from now.

Newsela Tips and Tricks:

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ePortfolios

ePortfolio Thoughts:

While I will be creating my first ePortfolio this week, I believe it will be a great opportunity to portray my achievements, learning experiences, knowledge, and technological skills. Now all of these items will grow throughout my tenure at Laverne and I look forward to supplementing my ePortfolio with more great examples of my abilities and my skills. I am a little hesitant to put all of my assignments up on an ePortfolio because I believe only the most pertinent information should be shown to show employability. I have had teachers ask to put certain assignments up for an ePortfolio that I don’t believe is necessary for showing my employment worth. However, I could also see how listing all of these assignments would be great in aiding and solidify accreditation. So, I will use this Laverne ePortfolio as a starting base to fine tune and commercialize myself for future employment.

K-12 ePortfolios:

While younger students within the K-12 grade level may not be ready to think about employment, I think it is important to be able to see the progression one makes year-over-year. Having a student create an ePortfolio is a great way to do this. Not only will the student be able to see the progression of learning and growth, but the student will also have an invaluable journey of school time memories. The ePortfolio idea reminds me of a journal project my kids pre-school teacher had the parents participate in. The parent was to write in a journal each day and have their child bring it to class. Then, the teacher would add to the journal what they did in the classroom and different discussions that the student may have shared. I cherish these journals as a reminder of my children’s life for their first couple of years of going to school. These journals are filled with memories and pictures. An ePortfolio is a great way to continue this journey through life not only for the students and teachers, but also for the parents.

Journal Prompts:

http://www.dailyteachingtools.com/journal-writing-prompts.html

https://www.pinterest.com/kristyha/365-journal-questions/

http://journalbuddies.com/journal_prompts__journal_topics/summer-writing-for-kids-37-fabulous-ideas-to-write-about/

ePortfolio Examples:

Project Based Learning

Look at Me, I’m Drowning by neener nina is licensed under CC BY 4.0
Look at Me, I’m Drowning by neener nina is licensed under CC BY 4.0

Today’s Classrooms:

Many of today’s classrooms still tend to be teacher based learning. That seems to be slowly turning. With the growth of technology, it seems some classrooms are starting to switch to students based learning. Student based learning is a learning style I became familiar with only through college. In some college classes, I would be given an overall problem to solve and then would need to come up with solutions and reasons for my solutions. However, in my primary grade school years, a problem would have been introduced to us and then the teacher would teach us how society decided to fix the problem. But, through the growth of project based learning, student based learning may be ready for the primary grades. What do you think?

My Impressions:

The project base model approach to teaching is a very intriguing concept for the primary grade level. I don’t think anyone can argue that teachers should be teaching life skills. Skills needed in the real world. A method of teaching that gives students a hands-on experience they can take with them into the job force. I do have a bit of hesitance on jumping on this band wagon. The United States has experienced a decline in the educational status of the American population. The question is, is a project based learning method the correct approach to this problem? If you were to throw all your students into the deep end of the pool, will they be able to swim? Most likely, some will be able to swim, and some will not be able to swim. I have this same feeling when it comes to project based learning. This method requires more from a student than the teacher based learning. This is not necessarily bad, but if you do not teach your students to swim, they will end up drowning. So, I think there has to be a foundation of skills that our taught to the students before a successful project based learning theme will be successful. I don’t know if there is a specific grade in which this happens. I also don’t know how to fully implement this with today’s mix of students with a wide variety of academic abilities. Yes, I think project based learning is a great idea but, I don’t want half of my class drowning in the process. Perhaps a modified version of project based learning is warranted. I think it will all depend on your students, your students’ abilities, and the teacher. Only time will tell.

Project based learning design resources:

http://bie.org/

http://www.bobpearlman.org/

Advantages/Disadvantages:

The advantages of project based learning is that students develop life skills while also learning grade appropriate learning standards. The disadvantage is that this method of teaching in the primary level is relatively new and needs to be studied more to teach others how to properly incorporate this learning method in the classroom for all students to be successful.