Ed-tech startup Newsela announced this week that it has partnered with Teaching Tolerance (a project of the Southern Poverty Law Center) to provide teachers with text sets that are specifically designed to teach students to open their minds by exposing them to the lifestyles of the diverse groups living in America.
Called 'A Mile In Our Shoes,' the new resource includes text sets that provide students with insight into the lives of veterans, immigrants, Native Americans, rural Americans, LGBTQ Americans, American Muslims and more.
The resource is being released at a time when finding ways to unify have never been more important. After a particularly divisive year following the 2016 presidential election, a survey conducted by Teaching Tolerance found that ninety percent of educators say their school climate has been negatively affected.
"With so much divisiveness currently in our country teachers are looking for ways to help children make sense of it all. Newsela's goal with this initiative is to arm teachers with tools that can teach empathy. This program will give students the opportunity to read about different perspectives and experiences. We want to help teach students to reflect on the similarities and differences from their own lives," said Alex Wu, Director of Marketing at Newsela.
Like all resources available on Newsela, the text sets are accessible by all students as they are offered at multiple tiers depending on a given student's reading level.
Students who read articles on Newsela "can study the same content and learn at their own pace" thanks to this kind of differentiated content. Not to mention, Newsela takes articles from the most prestigious outlets (The Washington Post, The Guardian and the Scientific American to name a few).
At the moment, Newsela estimates that it is used in over 3/4 of schools by 10 million students and 1 million teachers.
Nicole Gorman, Senior Education World Contributor