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What’s new on Newsela for back to school 2020

The Newsela Team
Aug 5, 2020

As districts across the country have been busy developing plans to safely return to instruction, at Newsela we’ve been hard at work enhancing the Newsela experience to support educators in these efforts. Our latest product updates will support the needs and challenges that are top of mind for all educators, including social-emotional learning content, addressing learning loss, improving accessibility, and keeping learning going, no matter where students are learning from. Below are just a few of the product enhancements we’re releasing for back to school 2020.

Timely new units for The Newsela SEL Collection

After a taxing spring and summer shaped by a global pandemic, economic insecurity, and a national reckoning with system racism, many students are struggling to cope. It’s no surprise that Social-Emotional Learning is a top priority for many districts. 

To meet students' SEL needs, we’ve updated The Newsela Social-Emotional Learning Collection with timely content and teaching resources that are germane to what students are experiencing and the SEL skills they need right now. New units for elementary, middle, and high school are rooted in research on trauma and stress, and focus on relationships, routines, and resilience. As always, the content is published at five levels to be accessible for every student, and the Collection makes it easy to integrate critical SEL themes alongside core literacy instruction. Lessons are designed to support learning whether students and teachers are together or apart.

Learn more about this update here.

Collections to address learning loss and get instruction back on track

Many educators feel unprepared to take on this new school year and wonder if they have the right materials to tackle the learning loss, anxiety, and disruption that could hinder learning. 

To ensure teachers across subjects have the content they need to be up to the task, we’ve released new collections that set the right tone for the new school year and make it easy to embed priority concepts and skills into planned instruction. 

  • For Newsela ELA: ELA Back To School Units provide flexible units of study that can be used from anywhere, with real-world content that is relevant to what is happening in the world right now, and Lesson Sparks and student activities that support standards-based ELA skills and SEL.

  • For Newsela ELA, Newsela Social Studies, and Newsela Science: Bite-sized overview units included in the Review collections are ideal for review or high level introductions, with opportunities to apply key concepts or standards to current events.

  • ELA and social studies Bridge Units: For a handful of states, we’ve partnered with districts to develop state-specific Bridge Units that support teachers in spiraling key concepts and skills from last year into back-to-school humanities instruction. These Bridge Units are included with Newsela ELA and/or Newsela Social Studies for the following states: OR, IL, NJ, FL, TX, MA, PA.

Register for a webinar to learn more about these collections here.

A partnership with NWEA to address wider than ever learner variability

To close learning gaps from the COVID-19 slide this fall, districts will need visibility into what students are ready to learn, and engaging content that can meet them where they are. We’re proud to team up with NWEA and combine the precise reading assessment results of MAP Growth and the authentic content of Newsela. 

Starting in September, Newsela customers will be able to integrate their MAP Growth data into Newsela products to set each student’s reading level accurately and automatically, making it even faster and easier for teachers to differentiate instruction when it matters most. 

Watch our discussion with NWEA and district leaders on the role of assessment and instructional content in reopening schools.

Contact us to integrate your district’s MAP Growth assessment date into Newsela. 

Accessibility enhancements to support every learning according to WCAG AA standards

Because barriers to instructional equity are more pronounced than ever, we’ve doubled down on our efforts to make instructional content accessible for every student. We’re proud to announce that the Newsela student experience is now fully compliant with the World Wide Web Consortium’s Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 Level AA. 

This certification ensures significant supports for students with disabilities, allowing them to fully navigate Newsela using a keyboard, use assistive screen reader technology, and more. In pursuing this work, we sought to exceed expectations, so we’ve gone beyond the AA compliance requirements to add Read Aloud mode to every article, so struggling readers or students with disabilities can listen and follow along for every text on Newsela, at any reading level or in Spanish. 

Learn more about this update, and our commitment to raising the bar for access and equity, here.

A teacher community to facilitate connections between educators, from anywhere

With educators being thrown into new ways of teaching that are outside of their comfort zones, building supportive connections between teachers is more important than ever. To facilitate these connections, we’ve created the Newsela Community. 

The Newsela Community is a digital destination for teachers where they can digitally connect with other educators, find and share lesson ideas, discuss teaching strategies, and stay on top of Newsela features and updates. 

Every teacher with a Newsela account can access The Newsela Community directly from the Newsela website.

Explore The Newsela Community and join a discussion here.

Streamlined navigation and search

With nearly 15,000 articles and thousands of embedded lesson resources for teachers, Newsela can provide all the standards-aligned instructional content needed to build any lesson for any curriculum. To make it quicker and easier for teachers to find the content and resources they need, we’re rolling out an improved navigation and search experience across the site. 

Starting this fall, teachers will notice a streamlined navigation menu, a simplified homepage and subject landing pages, an updated search experience, and deeper LMS integrations. These updates will save teachers’ time looking for the standards-aligned content they need — both from within Newsela and from top learning management systems— and lay the groundwork for more personalized content recommendations in the future. Plus, teachers will notice that navigating Newsela is easier than ever on a mobile device.

Teachers will notice these navigation and search improvements in their accounts starting in late August.

As this new and unprecedented school year begins, at Newsela, we’ll remain focused on providing the instructional content and resources students, teachers, and administrators need to stay engaged and connected — wherever students are learning.

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