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Newsela Free Summer Reading Challenge

For those many kids who choose not to read books, for those kids who are news junkies, for those kids who choose to focus on nonfiction, for those kids who read everything anyway, and for those kids who are motivated by regular, tangible rewards, Newsela’s Free Summer Reading Challenge may be just the thing to engage students with the world, while attacking potential summer reading slump.

In the last post, we talked about the Smithsonian’s Quests Digital Badging program.  This quality program is not the only option for kids who not only want to engage in learning challenges this summer, with the bonus of a little recognition for their achievements.

If, like me you are a fan of Newsela, the Newsela Summer Reading Challenge is going to be a welcome addition to your favorite kiddos’ daily summer activities. 

The news is not written for most of our kids, especially those who struggle with reading. When I shared Newsela with our teachers last fall many became devoted fans.  Newsela multi-discilplinary articles are published at five different levels of text complexity, allowing students of all abilities to engage with the same authentic news content.

Newsela Founder and CEO Matthew Gross, shared:

Getting kids to read over the summer is a pain. What if kids were self-motivated to read, and not just stories of wizards and heartbreak, but about the world around them?  Newsela’s goal this summer is to foster a news-reading habit. Starting this summer, news will be a part of every child’s life.

Logging in as Susie Student, I was greeted by the Week 2 screen and an invitation to choose an article from among three challenges.  I selected the Epic Cake Challenge where I encountered the fascinating and kinda of icky article, “Cicadas invade Staten Island with song; well, noise, a lot of noise, adapted from the LA Times by Newsela staff.

After reading the article, I could opt to take the four-question, standards-aligned quiz at the reading level I selected. Some questions ask you to go back to the text and point to evidence.  Should I miss any, I could review the quizzes to see correct answers.

Participation is free for students in grades 3 through 12.  A parent or teacher can create an account and students can take part of the nonfiction reading Challenge that ends on August. 18 on any browser and across their devices.

Students earn points and quirky, colorful badges for completing a range of mini-challenges based on article assignments.  Specifically, points are calculated by the number of words in an article divided by the number of questions in the article quiz and multiplied by the number of questions that they answer correctly.

Let your parents know about this Challenge.  It’s is a perfect excuse for a summer newsletter update.

Instructions for teachers/librarians

One-page handout for sharing student accounts with parents

Instructions for parents









Joyce Valenza About Joyce Valenza

Joyce is an Assistant Professor of Teaching at Rutgers University School of Information and Communication, a technology writer, speaker, blogger and learner. Follow her on Twitter: @joycevalenza

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