Educator Spotlight

Coaches Guide for a Newsela Mid-Year Checkup

The Newsela Team
Jan 3, 2020

We’re already mid-way through the school year. This is not a drill! In the education world, I’ve found that it can feel like both the longest year ever and also feel like “wasn’t it just September?” 

The mid-year point is a great time to reset systems, routines, and expectations. When I was a classroom teacher, I treated the week after winter break like the beginning of the year… re-teaching every major routine and classroom expectation with my kiddos. 

Now, as an EdTech and personalized learning coach, I try to use this time to provide a reset for teachers at my school. Of course, the teachers I support don’t need an interactive model of how to do a turn & talk. But they can find use in a refresh on best practices for our EdTech tools!

Here are a few of my tips for a mid-year Newsela checkup! As a bonus, you might also find these useful for other EdTech tools, too! ✨


If you’ve been a classroom teacher, you know that there are constant, shifting priorities. Some of these are immediate (like the student about to have a meltdown). And some are longer-term (are my students progressing towards our big goals?). 

Likewise, it’s easy to forget about available resources. In January, I find it helpful to send an email that targets 1-3 useful resources that teachers might have missed in the fall or a few new resources. For example, I’ve built a training hub with bite-sized modules teachers can complete for a gift card, certificate, and an email to their instructional coach, shouting them out. I call it our microcredential hub, and I add new trainings monthly. You can check it out here

I also share new Newsela resources, such as their SEL collection or Power Words, so that teachers can take better advantage of Newsela!


In addition to reminding my teachers about available resources, I reset expectations around usage. 

Earlier this year, I created recommended usage docs for our core EdTech programs, including Newsela.  

These documents walk through the what and the why. The what refers to the recommended usage for the program, and the why describes the impact of the program. 

For example, at our school, we ask teachers to have students complete at least one Newsela quiz a week, though many of our teachers use it much more frequently. 

And in terms of the impact, I was able to connect Newsela usage to substantial increases in students’ NWEA Map Growth Reading scores and Lexile scores. My school has a subscription to the Learn Platform, which makes analyzing EdTech program impact easy. 

If you don’t have access to such a tool, you can usually receive impact data from the EdTech provider. Most EdTech companies, including Newsela, have some data on the impact of their programs. Sharing, or resharing, this with teachers can help to build a sense of urgency around using the program to fidelity. 


The third strategy I’ve found to help reset expectations mid-year is celebrating the heck out of our progress!

My fantastic Newsela success manager was able to send me data that shows year-over-year usage. Year-over-year data makes it easy to see how teachers have improved in their Newsela usage, along with which teachers are our top users!

A two-pronged approach helps everyone feel celebrated. Instead of making it a competition with winners and losers, I’m able to generally find positive motion, be that an increase in annotations this year for one teacher or a higher quiz average for another, for instance.  

One last note: even if you’re a few weeks into January or February, it’s not too late for a mid-year checkup! If you do it in a thoughtful, positive way, your teachers will likely appreciate the extra support. 

About the author: 

Blair is an education consultant who helps schools, districts, and companies leverage technology and logistics to work towards equity. He loves building systems, data, and instructional design that helps make educators’ lives easier. 

You can follow him on Twitter at @blairtheblur and visit his website at

The Latest from @Newsela

Create red, white and blue flowers in time for the Fourth of July. It isn't magic that turns these white flowers into patriotic ones, it's science! 🧪 Here's an easy-to-follow walkthrough 👉
July 2, 2020, 1:31 PM
Newsela + @Peardeck are being responsive to the #COVID19 crisis. Subscribe to their Deck Decks for new ways to share updates with your students every week.
July 1, 2020, 11:07 PM
Here's a cross-curricular lesson to keep learners engaged with hands-on science and reading this summer. This Fourth of July, create a layered red, white, and blue drink using the concept of density. Try it out and enjoy this patriotic density drink! 🇺🇸
July 1, 2020, 9:50 PM
Addressing race relations and tensions may be uncomfortable, but it is essential for building empathy and improving relationships in our communities. Research aspects of race relations in the U.S. and discuss with students using this collection.
July 1, 2020, 8:19 PM
Educators play an integral role in empowering students. This guide to Culturally Responsive Teaching highlights how educators can better work towards developing an inclusive school culture.
July 1, 2020, 1:22 PM
How does the news media impact the world we live in today? This collection offers engaging @iCivics resources, activities and projects to help students understand the influence that media has historically had on the public, on policy, and more.
June 30, 2020, 1:02 PM
Today is the last day to apply to become a Newsela Fellow! If you're an educator that's looking to collaborate and learn, please apply to join our elite professional learning community today:
June 30, 2020, 12:45 PM
Tomorrow is the last day to apply to become a Newsela Fellow! 💙 If you'd like to complete a project with Newsela to transform learning in the classroom, the school community, or the education world at-large, please apply:
June 29, 2020, 9:45 PM
How do you teach the news? Whether you are a teacher, student, or parent, this resource is designed to help you effectively discuss protests over violence against the Black community with young learners.
June 29, 2020, 9:12 PM
We 💙 our Newsela Fellows. If you're looking for a professional development experience that allows you to work on a meaningful and impactful education project, please consider applying:
June 29, 2020, 11:00 AM
◾Personalized feedback & support opportunities with Newsela staff ◾Project funding to help spark your creativity ◾Validation of 50 hours of PD with a certificate and badge ◾ Swag 👕 These are just a few of the benefits of becoming a Newsela Fellow 👉
June 29, 2020, 2:02 AM
Make Social Emotional Learning a part of your distance learning classroom. The articles in this Text Set come from Newsela’s SEL Elementary School Collection and cover topics relevant to language arts 👉
June 28, 2020, 8:45 PM
The Supreme Court issued a number of influential rulings this month, on DACA, LGBTQ+ rights and more. Teach students all about #SCOTUS and how laws are interpreted using this text set on the Judicial Branch of government.
June 28, 2020, 7:07 PM

The best lessons start with the best content.

Ready to bring great instructional content to your students?

Contact Sales