Newsela Product Updates Winter 2024
The Company

Winter 2024 Product Updates: Newsela ELA, Newsela Social Studies, and Formative

The Newsela Team
Jan 9, 2024

You’ve heard the old saying before: new year, new you. Most people look at the new year as a way to form good habits and better themselves. For educators, that might look like getting intentional about the content and skills you teach in the second half of the school year. But making a New Year’s resolution is much easier than keeping one. How can you make sure you’re sticking to your educational goals? We’ve got just the thing to help!

Newsela’s new product updates help you make skills practice more engaging and impactful, provide more meaningful student feedback in your assessments, and offer new options for students to practice what they learn. See how Newsela is changing what skills practice and assessments look like in the classroom:

Make literacy skill development easier than ever with Newsela ELA

Most educational materials, products, or tools make skill-building a boring, repetitive process instead of a meaningful learning experience. When students only read random, out-of-context passages, they don’t build knowledge and the skills don’t stick. Teachers and students deserve a better approach than the traditional skill-and-drill method. 

The newest features of Newsela ELA help teachers emphasize skills practice and strategies as part of all reading—not just designated practice activities—turning more classroom minutes into opportunities to drive literacy gains. Check out some of the new features you can add to your lessons today:

Find the right skill-building resources with aligned search filters and article labels

Great content is essential to building literacy skills, so we made searching for the right content for skills practice even easier on Newsela ELA! Use the reading skills filter on the search page to find articles and activities that teach and reinforce some of the most common skills covered in ELA classrooms like:

  • Main idea

  • Key details

  • Theme

  • Word meaning and choice

  • Text structure

Use the labels listed below the title of every article card to see what skills will be covered in the embedded graphic organizers and assessed in the article’s accompanying quiz.

Up your educator game with skill-based content recommendations

When grading student work, teachers can explore our new content row that features explainer videos based on the skills students have practiced recently. These explainer videos dive deep into specific skills and help students build strategies and apply them in the context of what they’re learning.

Build reading habits with the Independent Reading Challenge

Encourage students to practice literacy skills on their own by reading about topics that interest them with the new student-facing Independent Reading Challenge.

This monthly, gamified challenge lets students choose which engaging, topical content interests them most. They can earn badges and tokens for completing the associated quizzes or Power Words activities on the articles included in the challenge.

Dive deeper with new topics added to the Standards and Skills collection

We’ve updated our Standards and Skills collection to be even more useful for educators in the classroom! New topics cover both literary and informational texts. The updates encourage teachers to model text synthesis with students and cover all nine of the anchor skills from the Common Core standards.

Plus, we’ve added video to our Analyzing Multimedia topics to provide students with more opportunities to understand how visuals enhance the experience or meaning of a text. 

Promote student practice with interactive graphic organizers

Help students practice applying the skills and strategies they learn with graphic organizers. These organizers align with the skills covered in the reading comprehension quizzes attached to each article. Find them embedded in the activities panel. Customize each graphic organizer even more by editing the worksheet in Formative.

Customize instruction with article skill selection

Want to cover one skill at a time? Or quiz different groups of students on different skills with the same content? No problem! Customize instruction by selecting which reading skills you want to assess with each article. 

A checklist at the top of the activities panel lets you deselect any skills you don’t want to quiz your students on before assigning the article.

Practice key skills on Newsela Social Studies with less prep time

Are your students getting their daily dose of skills practice in the social studies classroom? Now with Newsela Social Studies, you have 100+ new, ready-to-use activities to practice skills like source analysis and vocabulary in your history, civics, and economics classes. Designed by our curriculum experts, each activity is vetted and aligned to standards. Use them to:

  • Analyze primary sources: Practice skills like identifying claims and compiling evidence with multi-select and drag-and-drop questions, side-by-side with primary source texts, and available at five reading levels.

  • Reinforce Tier 3 vocabulary: Help students develop the vocabulary and conceptual understanding they need to succeed in economics with practice sets in flashcard, matching, and quiz modes. 

Provide targeted feedback and student skills practice with Formative by Newsela

Our latest series of updates to Formative gives teachers tools to provide even more meaningful feedback to students and more ways to direct students to study and practice independently:

Encourage independent studying with the student practice center

Teachers love using Formative with students for everything from quick checks for understanding to unit-level assessments. Now they can empower students to take control of their studying and review in our new student practice center.

Choose from flashcard, matching, and quiz modes to create low-stakes review and learning games to:

  • Prepare students for upcoming assessments independently or for whole-class review.

  • Differentiate instruction with extra practice for students who need it.

  • Promote positive study habits by encouraging students to create their own practice sets. 

All Formative users can create their own sets, and making them is easy! Upload a spreadsheet or grab a link from a fellow teacher or student who’s already created one. Educators who have a Silver or Gold subscription can also:

  • Add images, GIFs, and audio to practice cards.

  • Use AI to generate sets.

  • Assign sets to classrooms.

  • View student usage reports.

Give assignment and grading context with shareable rubrics

Studies show that feedback is more effective when it contains more information. But it’s time-consuming for teachers to provide detailed feedback for every student on every activity. Now, teachers with Silver and Gold subscriptions can share graded rubrics directly with students for all open-ended questions. Students can see the rationale behind the scores they receive and even respond directly to their teachers within Formative to ask any clarifying questions.

Creating rubrics on Formative is easy! Add your custom criteria, save the template, and then share it with other educators across any department or school.

Improvements to Newsela’s subject products and Formative, suggested by you!

These great updates are just the beginning. We’re constantly listening to teacher feedback to make our subject and assessment products easier to use and more impactful. Here are some of the most popular requested updates we’ve made across our product suite over the past few months:

Newsela subject products

  • Edit polls: Teachers can edit premade polls on Newsela ELA, Newsela Social Studies, and Newsela Science articles to customize them for every class, student, or skill.

  • Jump back in read aloud mode: Use the new jump-back button to return to the beginning of a paragraph in read-aloud mode to make reviewing information easier for all students.

  • Hide correct quiz answers: Preserve academic integrity in the classroom by hiding the correct quiz answers from students after they submit an assignment in Newsela.

  • Print activities for any subject: Create physical copies of social studies and science quizzes and write prompts to help meet the needs of all learners.

  • Discover more assignment controls: Make assignment creation a breeze with new options such as duplication, hiding Lexile levels, locking languages, and disabling the read-aloud feature.


  • Sync Google Slides: Embedding Google Slides into your formatives is now easier than ever. Click the new sync button to refresh slides after making changes to the original file. No more deleting and re-uploading!

  • Try video enhancements: Now, teachers can add and remove captions on YouTube and Vimeo videos, crop videos to better fit within their activities, and change the timestamp on any question simply by dragging it.

  • Discover more assignment controls: Get more options for assigning formatives to students, including bulk assign to multiple classes, due dates, and time limits.

  • Explore the new formative editor (Early access): Get ready for a cleaner, more organized editor experience in Formative! This view makes it easier to focus on one question at a time. Go to the early access section of your account settings page to turn this on.

Set a Newsela goal this new year

What are you waiting for? Set a goal to log in to your Newsela and Formative accounts to explore all of these great skill development and assessment features on Newsela ELA, Newsela Social Studies, and Formative for yourself. Not a Newsela or Formative premium subscriber yet? Connect with our team to learn more about bringing the best of content and assessment to your school or district!

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