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No sports at Newsela, but . . .

I first wrote about Newsela nearly a year ago (Newsela: Making News Accessible for Learners).  Across the curriculum, my teachers and students loved it.

This morning, founder and CEO Matthew Gross, shared the announcement of the expansion of the news platform that engages readers in news at their own level, with launch of the Newsela Sports section.

With the opening, Sorry, guys. No sports. Serious news only, he shared his  personal journey and his emerging belief that sports can be serious news, especially when the stories demonstrate critical issues.

I’ve been a sports fanatic since my hometown Washington Redskins and Baltimore Orioles both brought back championship trophies in 1983. And my three boys know far more sports facts and figures than I ever will. We’re a sports family. And that’s exactly why I put the kibosh on a Newsela sports section: I worried that if Newsela’s readers were anything like childhood-me and my boys, they’ll read nothing but sports at the expense of learning about upheavals in Ukraine and the Middle East, new applications of drone technology, climate change, and other serious news.

But it turns out that sports news can be serious news after all. Our amazing editorial team has amassed stories of an Orioles minor leaguer’s harrowing escape from Cuba and the push to change the Redskins’ name. We’ve taught kids how math can be used to improve basketball defenses and how athletes are pushing for more research into concussions and brain health. The Sports page is where some of our most urgent conversations on bias, racism, gender inequality and domestic violence are happening.

We pick sports stories that reveal something about society, science and self. Your sports-crazed students won’t find last night’s box scores in Newsela’s new Sports section, but they will find something that will excite, inform and tempt them to read a little more closely.

Take another look at Newsela as an option that might be even more engaging for some of your learners, reluctant or otherwise.


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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