It's obvious that Vanessa is a wordsmith: "Write. Observe. Revise. Discover...W.O.R.D."  These are the four essential ingredients for becoming a writer; two of them about the work (writing and revising) and two of them about the joy (observing and discovering.) Vanessa accomplishes it all.  Julie Larios, award-winning poet and children’s author
My son learned more about writing and literary appreciation from Ms. Ziff in fifth grade than in any other year of school. I wish all teachers had Vanessa’s passion for teaching and inspiring!Kim Ford

Vanessa is an outstanding writer and a joy to work with.

Aimee Trudeau, Web Developer, Kizmato.com
Vanessa Ziff Lasdon possesses the dynamic combination of an incisive intellect and boundless passion when it comes to teaching her craft and sharing skills with her students.MaryLynn Richmond
Having an eight-year old highly gifted boy was not enough to make him put all those brilliant ideas on paper. Daniel feels constantly challenged by Vanessa and that ignites him.Liliana Benitez
Vanessa is truly a one-of-a-kind teacher. She’s extremely organized, communicates ideas effectively, helps motivate, and has a lively, engaging teaching style that brings out the best efforts in all of her students.Howard Tager
Vanessa has a gift for inspiring even the most reluctant writer and her passion for writing is infectious. She is a favorite workshop leader at our Young Writers’ Conferences.Julie Moore & Rena Svetic, Young Writers’ Conference Founders
What our daughter values most about her time in Vanessa's class is being inspired to become an organized writer who could convey her thoughts in a meaningful manner.Laurie and Chris Harbert
Vanessa captured the essence of what I wanted to relay on my site without sounding trite, unlike my experience with previous writers.Martin Pugh, Musician
Vanessa transformed our son Josh from a decent writer into an excellent writer.  We wholeheartedly recommend Vanessa and her ability to draw out the best in your child’s writing ability.Jill and Larry Krutchik
All of us remember teachers who inspired us to greater heights and who influenced our lives. Vanessa Ziff Lasdon has played this role in my daughters' lives.Jack Tauber, M.D.
Vanessa’s methods are creative, thorough and innovative. She makes writing fun and has turned our daughter’s “like” of writing into a true “LOVE”.The Altmans
Vanessa is a true master of her craft. She is a blast to work with, completely trustworthy and utterly authentic. To work with Vanessa is a privilege; you just want to soak up all her talent, and bottle it up for yourself! She is an inspiration.Sarina Fierro, Head of Lower Elementary, Curtis School
Ms. Vanessa has challenged me to stretch my writing and I am excited for what I will do next.Evan, 3rd Grade
Whether it’s teaching a student to become a more vivid creative writer, a more effective analytical writer, or a more selective business writer, Vanessa can do it all.Meli and Stephen Rose
Ms. Ziff always pushed me to do my best, and never let me slack off.  She introduced me to my love of writing and gave me the confidence I needed both academically and in myself.Georgia 9th Grade, The Buckley School
Vanessa is high-energy smarts and charm, the kind of writer and teacher who captures and captivates readers of all ages.New York Times bestselling author, Cynthia Leitich Smith
Ms. Ziff’s friendly demeanor and enthusiasm made communicating easy and learning exciting. She taught us to understand and appreciate the material, and have fun in the process.Alivia 8th Grade, Harvard Westlake
Ms. Ziff set the foundation for my analytical, constructive, and creative skills. Whether writing a sonnet or writing an essay, I still have her lessons in my mind.Kenneth 8th Grade, Harvard Westlake
Vanessa’s vast skills, complete dedication, and clear purpose construct a solid core for every student she teaches. Her passionate nature produces both a fun and rewarding learning experience.Michele Noble, Director, Writer, Filmmaker
I honestly don’t know what kind of a writer and reader I would be without the tools I learned with Ms. Ziff. She was always a very understanding, rigorous, and involved teacher, and an incredible mentor.Maddie 9th Grade, Marlborough School
Vanessa’s greatest ability is to help each student realize his or her own untapped potential. It’s the stuff that changes lives!Jacqueline Frohlich
I learned as much from teaching with Vanessa as any of her students under her guidance. Where so many others fall back on old tricks, Vanessa taps into her extensive experience to invent new methodologies for each and every one of her clients.Patrick Kieffer, Fifth Grade – English & History, The Packer Collegiate Institute
Vanessa got my 8-year old son excited and intrigued to dig deeper into his experiences and bring his thoughts to life. Now Evan’s words dance and sing, which makes me want to dance and sing!Sally Micelotta
The skills Vanessa taught my son--particularly the value of revising many times […] attention to detail, and high standards—are still with Nico several years later.Liz McNicoll, Attorney, Paramount Pictures
Ms. Ziff maintains a good balance of knowing when to give more help and when to insist that you rise to the challenge of the learning situation. She instills confidence, honors excellence, and respects effort.Kenneth 8th Grade, Harvard Westlake
Ms. Ziff is always organized, resourceful, and ready for anything. She believes in a process, [...] the best of all being the Ms. Ziff approach, which makes her spectacular.Kenneth 8th Grade, Harvard Westlake
While we continue to be impressed by Vanessa’s many attributes, it is her high energy level, extraordinary patience, and passion for what she does that make her truly unique.Melissa and Rob Weiler
I know that the many fun and challenging lessons I’ve learned from Ms. Ziff will help me achieve my goal of one day being a professional writer and filmmaker.Jaren S. 7th Grade, The Buckley School
The writing skills my daughter, now excelling in ninth grade English Honors, left Vanessa’s class with continue to be an invaluable set of resources.Betsy Leva
Ms. Ziff is definitely not just my teacher and tutor; she is my mentor.Lexi 7th Grade, Harvard Westlake

Newsela.com: Creating Global Citizens Through Scaffolded Texts

 

Jaya MukherjeeGuest post written by W.O.R.D. Ink team member, Jaya Mukherjee

As an educator, I watched my students struggle with nonfiction texts, namely newspaper literacy. Though my ambition was to make my students secular-minded world scholars, the interpretation of current event articles traditionally proved to be an overwhelming assignment for them. The language was over their heads or the content of the story was framed in an inaccessible way to children. Parents would often call to tell me how frustrated the assignment made their children. If they weren’t already tired of scouring the Internet looking for a particular news story, then they were spending hours deconstructing the story.

Newspaper literacy is an essential skill. Without it, we are not setting our kids up to truly understand what is happening in the world or how they fit into it. Nevertheless, my experience with my students is undeniable proof that our kids need more support in this endeavor; they need one place to turn to, a way to compensate for journalistic language that they may not grasp yet, and a set of specific questions to anchor their understanding in the content of the story. Recently, the W.O.R.D Ink team found such a place and it’s appropriately called Newsela.

Newsela.com

 

Newsela.com, short for News English Language Arts, is a website created by a team of educators, journalists, and technologists who work collaboratively to publish high-interest news articles daily from reputable newspapers and journals. Not only does Newsela offer the same article at varying reading levels, they provide follow-up reading comprehension quizzes that are already aligned to Common Core standards.

 

6 Reasons Why Newsela is Great for Teachers & Parents

Newsela Login

Log in as a parent, teacher or student

It’s Free: All you have to do is register as a teacher or parent, create a username and password, and respond to a welcome email.
Paperless and Easy to Navigate: Everything is online, and you or your student can alter your account to suit your needs. Teachers can set up accounts for different classes and parents can set up accounts for their children. When your students take quizzes online based on the articles they’ve read, you can see how they did—what questions they knew the answer to and which ones they need help with.
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Navigate reading levels with the click of a button

 

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Teachers can set up class rosters


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Parents can set up accounts for their different children

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Quizzes can be found in the blue box on the right-hand side of the screen

Nonfiction literacy:  With routine use of Newsela, students are constantly getting exposure to nonfiction texts – the genre of text that is foundational to math, science, history, and English.

A Trustworthy Resource:  The website is updated daily, adapting articles from such reputable journals as The Washington Tribune, The Associated Press, Returners, and the Los Angeles Times. The website is also international in scope and has made brave moves to feature articles on controversial issues like feminism in the Middle East, discrimination across race and gender lines in the United States, human rights violations overseas, and gun-control policies in the wake of American tragedies. In the Spirit of the Common Core:  Since the adoption of the Common Core Initiative throughout American education systems, students are being asked to apply critical thinking skills to primarily informational, nonfiction texts in order to build their vocabulary, background knowledge, and college-readiness. Not only does Newsela offer students a vast array of high-interest nonfiction texts, the website specifically aligns a huge amount of articles with specific common-core standards, giving our students an objective even before they start reading.
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The anchor image means that the article is aligned with a Common Core standard. It also means that there is a quiz available on this particular article.

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Clicking on the anchor reveals the standard to which the article correlates

Everyone is Using It: Newsela was just awarded a $1.2 million seed round by NewSchools Venture Fund. Matthew Gross, the co-founder and CEO of Newsela, shared that the website has approximately 400 teachers and 3,000 students registering every day.

 

 

4 Reasons Why Newsela is Great for Students

  1. Teaches Computer Literacy: When students are reading articles, navigating lexile levels, and taking quizzes assigned to them, they are building their computer literacy — one of the most essential skills to their future success in academia and the workplace.
  2. Mirrors the Same Aesthetic as Newspapers: The website is aesthetically similar to other online news publications. By using the website, we are potentially creating life-long learners – a generation of people who are both familiar with online publications and have the skills to understand and evaluate current events.
  3. Engaging: With high-interest stories ranging from subjects like law, science, money, war, kids, and human interest, Newsela offers literary content that is engaging to kids by virtue of its relevance.
  4. Ownership: Kids create their own online profiles and are responsible for both reading assigned articles and taking assessments. Keeping up with classmates necessitates a self-motivation and can potentially instill a culture of respect and ownership.

 

Newsela is an incredible resource. It’s efficient, accessible, and responds to the varying needs in our diverse classrooms. Not only does it expose students to events, personalities, and mindsets outside of their immediate environment, Newsela strives to make global news accessible. Because the website pulls articles from a variety of different publications, it saves us research time. Also, students have their own accounts, are responsible for their own assignments, and can easily navigate the website, essentially challenging them to drive their own development. Moreover, students aren’t bogged down trying to simply comprehend the articles, they are engaging with them — they are answering questions and analyzing themes and perspectives.

By building computer literacy, educational ownership, and overall awareness, Newsela is a tool that parents and educators can use to instill a culture of empowered and informed learning for their students.

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