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4 Tips to Keep ELA Skill Building Relevant and Engaging this Year

The Newsela Team
Aug 31, 2022

Strengthening literacy skills is an important component of any ELA curriculum. Especially at the beginning of the school year, you may be thinking, “how can my district/school reinforce ELA skills?” or “how can we empower teachers to help students improve skills this year?” To reach your literacy goals, teachers need insights into student skill levels and the appropriate resources to expand upon those skills in a relevant and engaging way.  

Check out these 4 tips to keep ELA skill building relevant and engaging this year.

1. Prioritize the skills students need most

Since teachers have a new group of students, it’s important to spend the first days of the new year understanding what students are ready to learn and what skills they need to practice most. 

In addition to leveraging the most recent NWEA MAP Growth assessment data to set reading levels in Newsela, teachers can now use dozens of new Reading Skills Checks to ensure students are assigned content at their Just Right Reading Level based on how they interact with the text. Plus, as students complete low-stakes formative assessments, teachers can easily gain insight on which skills students need the most support on.

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2. Build the background knowledge students will need

Students’ performance on literacy skills is inextricably linked to the required background knowledge needed for what they are asked to read. If they lack background knowledge, they simply won’t be able to make inferences or find the main idea.

With over 15,000 texts available in Newsela’s subject products, teachers can find engaging content on any topic or theme planned for the school year, and expose learners to those concepts at their own reading level.

3. Pair skills practice with engaging texts

Whether students spent the last few months diligently doing their summer reading or enjoying some pool time, to get them in the back to school flow, teachers need access to relevant, engaging texts that support skills practice. Skills practice in isolation can be repetitive, void of context, and simply ineffective. Building instruction around content and themes that students care about and already have background knowledge on is essential.

With Newsela ELA’s Standards and Skills collection, your teachers will have access to engaging content that supports students as they practice priority ELA skills. Choose between a variety of content like Monster Magic, containing teaching strategies that support readers as they analyze the setting of a story, or The Ghosts of Harpers Ferry to analyze point of view.

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4. Keep track of student understanding with low-stakes formative assessments 

In order to accelerate learning in ELA, teachers need engaging resources that monitor student understanding. By pairing low stakes formative assessments with meaningful and relevant texts from the start, teachers can keep students engaged and on track throughout the year. 

Newsela offers a variety of low-stakes formative assessments that can guide learning in real time. Whether it's reading comprehension quizzes, Write Prompts or the Annotations feature, these resources empower teachers to meet students where they are. Plus, research shows that Newsela ELA quizzes give students exposure to the types of questions being asked on high-stakes reading assessments. And as students improve their scores on Newsela quizzes, they're demonstrating standardized reading growth as well. 

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Instructional materials that prioritize ELA skills can cultivate active, engaged readers. This back to school season and beyond, Newsela ELA can support your ELA plans with a meaningful combination of resources that spark curiosity, reinforce literacy skills, and build a love of learning.

Read more on what to prioritize when selecting and planning ELA classroom content.


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