Nonfiction Technology That Transforms To Meet Readers At Their Ability Level

If you haven’t seen NewsELA yet, stop reading this and check it out at

Still here?  Shame on you.  Here it is in a nutshell.  NewsELA allows students to read news articles on current events.  (I’ve noticed that many of the primary headlines parallel those on most popular news sources – CNN, etc.).  But, beyond simply providing static content, NewsELA gives readers the power to wave their 21st-century wands and to instantly transform the articles to match their reading ability (indicated by “Lexile score”).

You’ll notice a blue bar on the right-hand side of each article on NewsELA with multiple Lexile scores to choose from(Lexile to grade-level equivalents here: FYI, I ran this post through Lexile’s “Analyzer” and it registered at 1150, meaning high achieving 8th graders should be able to read it – and, as per Common Core measures, every 11th and 12th grader should be able to read this with fluency.)

Anyhow – I was instantly impressed by NewsELA’s ability to toggle between complexities.  I can’t help but feel a bit like our abstract notions about reading in the 21st century are materializing before us, and while the little devil on my left shoulder is suggesting these kinds of reading options will simply allow our struggling readers to remain struggling readers, the angel on my right insists that they offer endless possibilities for instruction that were previously impossible.

Will a student who reads an article at the lowest available Lexile level be able to achieve solid comprehension of the same article when complexity is progressively increased?  Will that increase generalize to new articles?  Will the prior knowledge he develops at the lower levels scaffold his understanding of language as he re-reads more challenging versions?  Can students break the articles down by word or sentence to enhance their understanding of language in context?

All of that, and it’s free to sign up.  I don’t know about you, but I’m excited.  If you’ve already explored NewsELA, implemented it with your students, and/or plan to give it a whirl, share your experiences with us!

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