Newsela is a solid resource for news stories your students will look forward to reading and discussing. Though it's a valuable tool for free, it's likely that the tools in a PRO account will offer the best learning value. Access to the annotation tool for teachers is enormously useful and it offers a great way to encourage active reading. Teachers have access to this, as well as crucial assessment data, through the dashboard. With or without a paid subscription, students will find the nonfiction texts here accessible and engaging; articles are pulled from high-quality news sources, then adapted to a range of reading levels. Topics run the gamut from pop culture, from roller derby to Minecraft, and they touch on subjects that encourage cross-curricular reading, like DNA testing, global women's rights, living conditions in Syria, and travel to Mars.
Including adjustable Lexile levels for every text (and quiz) is a significant feat and gives Newsela a considerable leg up against other competitors that offer more static nonfiction reading instruction. Additionally, the customized quizzes and structured writing prompts paired with each leveled text are a huge boon to teachers and students alike: These assessment features offer a rich, flexible way for students to demonstrate what they've learned, to practice their close reading skills, and to use their writing to analyze and discuss what they've read. It's especially powerful that there's so much content available in Spanish, making this a great tool for Spanish speakers or Spanish language students and for ELLs whose first language is Spanish. Features like a built-in dictionary, a translator, or audio support could make the experience even richer. Also, better search terms would make searches of the articles feel more fruitful: as it is, daily updates are impressive and the range of article topics is appealing; using the "News From Around the United States" is less impressive than disappointing, as some states haven't had an update in months. All that aside, though, this is an exceptionally strong tool for bringing current events, level-appropriate texts, and flexible assessments to students from second through tweltfh grade.