Newsela is an effective classroom literacy tool for students and teachers, and just like with any tool, routines and procedures increase its productivity. This strategy outlines some best practices for creating routines using Newsela in the classroom. It highlights the importance of consistency and clarity when developing routines, rooted in consistent use of the tool and a structured set of norms. As when introducing any new tech tool into a classroom, initial routine-setting and continuous refinement of those routines for how to use the technology support student success.
No matter the genre, readers gravitate toward their interests when reading. Working with students to create Class Text Sets with Newsela allows secondary students to choose what they learn about while still focusing on the learning targets of the subject area and course. The element of choice that having students create class Text Sets introduces increases student engagement in the topic and can excite students to read more. Having students take ownership of their learning is a goal of most educators, and this strategy encourages and supports that goal.
Having students explore and research issues surrounding their community supports them to engage in their community and potentially make impactful changes. Student engagement and questioning skills increase when they relate to the subject and realize that many of the things they face on a day-to-day basis are the same for many people around the world. In this strategy, students read Newsela articles to learn more about their communities in order to identify a problem, and then develop research-based projects to explore and present solutions to those problems.
Students are large consumers of various types of media. This experience when leveraged in the classroom can be a great way for students to demonstrate their understanding of a topic and teach others. In this strategy, students read a text or a Text Set on Newsela, synthesize and summarize their reading, and then develop a way to teach the topic that they learned about in the reading to their peers. This strategy can play out in various ways (from having students create a multimedia commercial to teaching a lesson to peers using slides) and can be customized to suit the needs of specific classrooms.
As students read, they often struggle to summarize or analyze what they are reading, and it can sometimes be difficult to describe key ideas or features of the text when they have finished reading. A T-Chart is a visual organizer that can aid a reader in summarizing or analyzing what they read by organizing their thoughts into two categories. Students make a T on a piece of paper. At the top of the T, students write the topic of the T chart (for example, comparing and contrasting two events/topics in a text). On the left side of the T, students include their thinking about a particular category (e.g., how two events/topics in a text are similar), and on the right side of the T, students record their thinking about another category (e.g., how two events/topics in a text are different). T-Charts are a great graphic organizer to help students identify key similarities and differences between ideas within or between texts. T-Charts can be used in a variety of ways, from comparing and contrasting two texts or topics in a text, to identifying an author's claim and finding evidence to support that claim.
In engineering it is called the engineering design process. In design, it is simply called the design process. There are many other names people use for the systems used to go from a problem to a solution. This strategy is one version out of many, but they all lead to the same results: finding the best possible solution to the problem given or discovered. Students have great creative thinking skills, but sometimes lack the problem solving and critical thinking skills to solve large complex problems. This strategy will help students identify a problem and then focus their energy to find the best solution to the problem.
It can often be difficult for students to imagine what it might be like to be in a certain career, understand the decisions made by historical figures, or understand the views of fictional characters. Sometimes the vision and reality are not aligned. This strategy can help students understand what it takes to think and perform in a particular career for CTE students by allowing them to research that career and then engage in role play to "experience" that career. The strategy of research and role play can also be used in other content areas to help students understand the views of historical figures and/or fictional characters based on the events that they experienced.
The Peer Geniuses strategy highlights the strengths of individual students and puts them in a position to help their peers learn a new concept or practice a specific skill. In this strategy, the teacher uses student survey and Newsela data in order to select a Peer Genius student who will lead a small group of 3-4 other students in a targeted mini-lesson around a specific concept or skill related to a Newsela text. Designated Peer Geniuses for each group prepare higher-order questions to ask their peers in order to help them learn the targeted new skill or about the topic. The other students in the group analyze a text in order to build their knowledge or practice the targeted skill. Then, the Peer Genius group meets and the student who is designated as the Peer Genius for the round leads their group in a discussion or a mini-lesson. Afterward, students have time to debrief and share learnings with the whole class. Then, the process repeats so that each student in a group has an opportunity to be a Peer Genius, a teacher, and a learner.
When teachers meet in a professional learning community (PLC) they can set team goals and share experiences and strategies to enhance a classroom. Newsela offers many features that provide data for PLCs to review and to set goals for the team as to how to best support students on the specific reading skills of focus. It also affords PLCs the ability to track student progress on the reading skill(s) of focus so that they can see if the instructional moves and strategies they have used to support those skills are having an impact. For both ELA and non-ELA teachers, this data supports them to track their students' skills in literacy and make key shifts in instruction to support continued growth. This strategy offers examples of how to share and use the Newsela data to set PLC goals.
Recognizing and celebrating growth in the education of a student is an important part of every classroom. This strategy highlights ways to use Newsela to track students' literacy growth and includes several ways to celebrate students' growth and mastery in specific literacy skills. It also focuses on how to support students to set measurable literacy goals and reflect on those goals.