Newsela has been reaching out to me. Newsela is a service that provides leveled readings. A few years ago, they were all the rage. They provided free, leveled readings for students (they still do, but more about that in a minute).

Like many free services, Newsela has a free and paid version. The main point of the free version is to encourage users to move to the paid version (this is referred to as “customer acquisition”). Free works in some situations (FOSS for example), but it is important to understand why something is free. Open source is different than “customer acquisition”.

So, what’s changing in the free version of Newsela?

Beginning with the 2019-2020 school year, news content will remain available in our free version. Alignments to standards and Newsela-curated Text Sets will no longer be visible without a paid subscription.

The other 20+ standards-aligned content genres such as primary sources, reference texts, pro/con paired texts, historical documents and pre-curated Text Sets will require a subscription.

We do have a couple of schools that pay for the premium version of Newsela. We do want teachers to know about resources that are available, while being smart, informed consumers.


We’ve been transitioning to a new experience in DEC. As such, we are moving some of the links around. If you visit the Staff Resources page of the Dearborn Public Schools web site, the DEC link will now go to the new an improved version of DEC. Since we haven’t yet redeveloped every curricular area, the curriculum committees are hard at work on that, we’ve also maintained the link to “old DEC”.

Graphic showing where to find DEC links on the Staff Resources page.

DEC 2.0 Take 2.1

DEC 2.0 is Coming!

Whilst we are hard at work creating DEC 2.0, we need your feedback. In lieu of trying to pull together teachers from across the district, we are reaching out to teachers via technology.

Here’s how you can help:

  • Please check out DEC 2.0 (5th Grade Marking Period 1 is where we’ve done some work as to what is possible – special Thanks to Amy Gwizdz!)
  • Let us know what you think by touching base with a Tech coach or entering a comment below.
  • Suggest specific improvements.

Need a quick overview? We have a video for you.


DEC 2.0 Preview

DEC 2.0

As you may know, we are working on updating DEC. We are referring to the new DEC as DEC 2.0. Currently, it is very much in beta. We need your feedback to make it as polished as possible for teachers. I’ve done a video to give you an overview of DEC 2.0.


Please take a look at DEC 2.0.


  • Touch base with Curriculum Committees to provide them with feedback as to what you would like to see.
  • Catch a Tech Coach and give them feedback on the “look and feel” of DEC 2.0.
  • Touch base with me to let me know how we can make this most useful for teachers.

Open eBooks

Open eBooks is a mobile app that provides thousands of popular and award-winning books free for students in Title I schools. These eBooks can be read without checkouts or holds. Students enrolled in Title I schools can download Open eBooks and access books for free from their mobile device.

Follow these four easy steps to get Open eBooks on any mobile device – including tablets, iPads, and on smartphones of all types.



Step 1: On an iPhone or Android phone, open the app store and type in “open ebooks”

Step 2: Click GET then click INSTALL to download the app.

Step 3: Open the app and click Log in with Clever.

Step 4: Search for the student’s school to log in with their username and password.

Open ebook App link
iOS Link

What platforms are the Open eBooks app available on?

The app is currently available on iOS and Android. Subsequent versions will be optimized to support as many open platforms as possible. There will be a web-optimized version coming in 2016. Open eBooks uses the EPUB3 standard but will expand to include PDFs in early 2016.

Will the app be available on Chromebooks or Windows devices?

At this time, the Open eBooks app is only available for the iOs and Android platforms.

Does “unlimited access” mean the books will be free of Digital Rights Management?

In-need youth can borrow up to 10 books at a time and replace each book with a new book as many times as they’d like. The contributed eBooks will include Adobe Digital Rights Management software, which means that the book will be visible only to the student who is accessing it and cannot be shared.

How is users’ privacy protected and respected?

No personally identifiable information is captured about the children using the Open eBooks application. First Book captures educator information through its registration process, but protects this information under its privacy policy. For more information, see the Open eBooks privacy policy.

Are individual readers’ activity tracked?

No, individual readers’ activity are not tracked. Reading will be tracked anonymously and in the aggregate. A student’s privacy is paramount and the partners will work tirelessly to ensure that student privacy is maintained at all times.


Does it work for people who are print-disabled?

Yes. Built with Readium’s rendering engine, the Open eBooks App takes advantage of the accessibility features that are native to the EPUB3 format in which the books are rendered. Open eBooks is compatible with Apple and Android’s Text to Speech (TTS). In the future we plan to improve the implementation of Readium to make this even more robust.

We’re working on improving the experience and accessibility in future updates and versions of the app and its content. Again, making this content accessible is a top priority and we are working with all our industry partners to make progress in this area.

We also encourage families, teachers and librarians of readers with print disabilities to try applications like BARD, BookShare, and Learning Ally. These great resources can help students build an even bigger collection of eBooks.

How does it work for readers with Dyslexia?

Open eBooks supports Open Dyslexic Font for those with Dyslexia.

To enable:

  • Open your eBook
  • Click the [Aa] button in the top right corner
  • Click the Open Dyslexic Font located in the top row on the far right

Blended Learning Course

RESA is offering one last opportunity for educators to be involved in developing Blended Learning Skills. The course is free (unless you want SCECH’s- which is $10).

The course starts 1/12/2015 with a mandatory face-to-face session on 1/28/15 (after school). The course duration is approximately 15 weeks.

session 310

Mandatory F2F session: 1/28/2015, 4:30-7:00pm

Constitution Day Resource

Live Tour of the National Archives and Up Close Look at the Constitution

September 17 at 1:00PM ET

Join David Ferriero, Archivist of the United States, on a tour of the National Archives and a short lesson about the Constitution.

Constitution Day provides a great opportunity for classrooms across the country to learn about the document, as well as the National Archives. Students will take a short tour of the National Archives, learn about their document collection, and how historians are actively using primary source documents in their research. Students will also learn about the Constitution through a document analysis strategy that reinforces the skills needed to read, write, and think like a scholar.

Sign up HERE.

More TBA

No special equipment is needed to view this event online. All you need is an internet connected computer (and a way to share with students – projector and speakers). Students will have the chance to submit questions online to be answered live.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Do I need to register all my students or just my classroom?
A: You only need one ticket for a location or classroom. All your students are covered by the one ticket.

Q: My classroom can’t make this time, will there be an archive?
A: Yes, classrooms and teachers registered for the event will be notified when the archive is available soon after the live event.

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