Buncee and Newsela: Revolutionizing Reading Comprehension and Creativity in the Classroom

Buncee and Newsela are hands down, my favorite ed-tech tools. With so many excellent tools to choose from and limited funds, these are two I wouldn’t hesitate to purchase on my own. Why? Because they have transformed my classroom.

When I first learned about Buncee last year my students and I were quickly hooked. My students used it to learn vocabulary, summarize podcasts from the walking classroom, and present research across various topics, while also creating many Buncees just for fun!

One of their favorite activities was to use Buncee for editing. After they finished research presentations and posted them to a Buncee Board I had them look at each other’s presentations and made editing comments. They added notes about spelling, punctuation, grammar, and content. At the end, they said “Miss Rafferty! That was so fun! We felt like teachers. Can we do it again?!”

What Buncee has done for creativity in my classroom, Newsela has done for reading engagement. Newsela is a content provider for informational text. They partner with news outlets all over the world and release 6 new articles each day. Unlike textbooks, which are generally written above the grade level they are for, all articles on Newsela can be accessed at 5 Lexile levels. This allows each of my students, no matter their reading level, to read the same content and have a voice in the conversation.

While my students are reading on Newsela they can annotate their reading, respond to a Write Prompt, and take a quiz. In addition to using Newsela for current events articles, I’ve used it to supplement my science curriculum, give students background knowledge for all-class novels, and focus on the eight reading skills as defined by Common Core standards.

When Newsela and Buncee are used together, it can be truly incredible what kids can accomplish. While they are reading they can use Buncee to create an infographic of their article. They can use Buncee to summarize their reading after a single article or after reading a collection of articles surrounding a similar topic. One challenge would be to have students summarize an article using anything on Buncee except the text feature. This would help kids stretch their thinking about what should be included in a comprehensive summary.

Additionally, teachers can create a Buncee Board for student recommendations. Have you ever been to a bookstore and checked out the “Staff Recommendations” shelf? I have! How great would it be if students created a one-page snapshot of an article, linked the article to their Buncee, and put it on a shared Buncee Board. Then, when their classmates are looking for an interesting article, they can pop over to the Buncee board to see what their classmates have recommended.

As I prepare for the coming school year I cannot wait to implement these strategies with a new group of kids and see their creativity and engagement soar!


Kristen Rafferty holds her M.Ed. in Teaching and Learning from Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota. She is Buncee Ambassador, a Sutori Storyteller, Newsela Certified Educator, and was part of the very first Newsela Resource Writer cohort. Most notably, however, she’s a dedicated, passionate teacher of fourth graders at Carondelet Catholic School in Minneapolis, MN who shares a love of books, technology, and laughter with her students. Follow her on Twitter.

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