September 25

Meet Newsela!

The following is a blog post written by our Tech Integration Specialist, Emily Nestor! Great post! Check out the Newsela Hyperdoc!

One of my favorite purchases that we have made this year is Newsela Pro! Although several teachers have been utilizing the free version since it first launched in 2013, the additional features in the Pro version make the upgrade well worth it! 

For those who are unfamiliar with Newsela, the website takes high interest, nonfiction stories (articles, biographies, famous speeches) published by respected news organizations, and rewrites them at five different reading levels. These stories can be accessed by students online. While reading, students are able to utilize a built-in annotation tool, which is very beneficial since Close Reading is a foundational reading skill when it comes to “digging deeper” with the text. Newsela also creates quizzes and writing prompts based on the 8 CCRS Reading Anchor Standards that align with the reading. These quizzes and writings provide teachers with a real-time look into what their students are understanding and what they are not (which is HUGE for differentiating instruction). 

Last week in Teacher Academy, I took my History, Science, and ELA teachers on a “Tech Walk” through Newsela Pro! We looked at the features that were available and the data that would be provided to us as we utilize this awesome resource within our classrooms! I also provided them with a Newsela 101 Hyperdoc that I created as a resource for any questions and troubleshooting that they might encounter. To say they left Teacher Academy excited was an understatement! 


I am looking forward to visiting classrooms this week and seeing Newsela in action! 

February 4

Slice of the Day

Reflection is one of the most underutilized tools for teacher and student learning and allows metacognitive thinking to take place. Incorporating thinking strategies is “the single most effective way to increase student achievement” (Silver, et al pg 57), thus making metacognition and the reflective process taste that much sweeter to any teacher aiming to promote critical thinking in the classroom. How can you learn from others while teaching? Conducting a “Slice of the Day” is a great way!

To conduct a slice of the day, choose a school period and map out your schedule. @GraysonLawrence and I conducted our “Slice of the Day” during sixth period (A 96 minute period). We stayed in each classroom around seven minutes. We used the slice protocol to create a snapshot to share with teachers in Teacher Academy. Our goal was to show teachers the “Slice of the Day” and give them time to reflect on practice, create goals, and discuss classroom pedagogy that is impactful to student achievement.

@GraysonLawrence and I chose to do a new take on the “Slice of the Day”. We each had a lens of what to be on the lookout for. The only reported information was observable information/data garnered by the lense. His lens was student engagement and my lens was rigorous instruction. Here is what we discovered for each applied perspective:

Rigorous Instruction Lens:

  • Citing textual evidence
  • Academic vocabulary from the ACT Aspire in elective courses
  • Quality question by teachers
  • Students using content vocabulary in conversation without the teacher present (high expectations present)
  • Performance tasks (open-ended questions) in ALL content areas
  • Graphic organizers, such as ACE, in history and elective courses
  • Number talks in math
  • Manipulatives used by students to model thinking
  • Application of Ethos, Pathos, Logos in elective course
  • Differentiated Small-Group based on student needs
  • Students using Rubrics to assess their learning

Engagement Lens:

  • Classroom Managers present and eager to discuss their learning and the learning in the classroom.
  • Students troubleshooting through assignments together
  • Students using rubrics in groups to assess learning
  • Learning Targets posted that show a pathway to learning
  • Students asking questions about their own learning
  • Bellringers to start the day
  • Math Stretches
  • Students participating in PBL (Project Based Learning)
  • Blended Learning opportunities for students
  • Collaboration in Google Docs/Slides


Silver, H., Dewing, R. T., & Perini, M. (2012). The core six essential strategies for achieving excellence with the common core. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.


**Small side note about The Core Six Essential Strategies for Achievement Excellence with the Common Core:  It is a short read, BUT very transformative!!! I highly encourage you to read and reread it! I have a copy you can borrow anytime! It is not content specific, rather just a focus on effective teaching strategies!