Speed Dating using Newsela with Secondary Students

A fast-paced, structured discussion that supports students to analyze texts and clarify new ideas
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Speed Dating

About This Strategy

Speed Dating is a dynamic discussion strategy that supports students to analyze texts and respond to the ideas of others. To set up an initial Speed Dating exercise during class, teachers should prepare a series of questions related to an individual text or text set. Students can later be coached into writing their own questions based on the reading. Teachers should distribute one question to each student and allow the students time to answer the question in writing. The room should be structured as a typical "Speed Dating" venue, with two rows of desks or tables facing each other, and each student facing another student. Each student shares his or her question with the classmate sitting across from him or her, and then the classmate responds to the question. After an allotted period of time, students rotate to their next classmate in the line, which provides an opportunity for each student to speak with multiple classmates about multiple text-dependent questions. This activity fosters student engagement and builds students' discussion skills. Speed Dating is a very valuable strategy for English Language Learners, as it allows for rehearsed oral practice and conversational skills. It also embeds social skills into the classroom, with students practicing active listening and accountable talk with their partners.

Before Reading Implementation Steps

Teacher Preparation and Planning:

  1. Select an appropriate text or texts for students to read and annotate in advance of Speed Dating. These texts should be related to the current unit of study. Consider selecting several texts for students to discuss in a Newsela Text Set.

  2. Write a series of questions to accompany the texts. These questions can range in difficulty and can cover a variety of topics. There should be enough questions for each student in the class.

    • Teachers might consult the article's quiz and write prompt for question ideas.

  3. Provide a question to each student before they begin reading, so students can set a purpose for reading and annotate key points that support their response to the question.

  4. Arrange the room so that there are two distinct rows of desks or tables and students are seated facing each other. For larger classes, teachers might choose to split students into two groups and have two sets of tables, so that two groups of "Speed Daters" can run concurrently.

  5. Select a student who can model the strategy for the class with the teacher. Provide the student a script of the strategy so that effective modeling can occur.


Student Preparation:

  1. Assign the article or text set.

  2. Assign a question to each student to answer as they read the article.

  3. Instruct students to annotate the text in order to respond to their question. Newsela PRO users can add Instructions to the article and request that students annotate the text in order to respond to to their assigned question in BLUE, while using YELLOW for other important annotations. Non-PRO users might consider having students take notes in a Google Doc or with pencil and paper to identify central ideas or key points in the text.

During Reading Implementation Steps

  1. Assign the Newsela article or Text Set at the Newsela Recommended reading level for each student.

  2. Students should read the assigned article or articles on Newsela and:

    • complete the assigned annotations.

    • construct a response to their individually assigned question.

After Reading Implementation Steps

  1. The teacher should ensure that the class is split in half and seated facing each other.

  2. Before attempting the strategy with reading content, the teacher should model a social implementation of Speed Dating with a student. The teacher should pre-select a student, and demonstrate in front of the class.

  3. After modeling, the teacher should allow the class to practice with the social question.

  4. The teacher should identify one side of the room as "Partner A" and one side of the room as "Partner B." The teacher should explain that "Partner A" students will read their question out loud to "Partner B," and then 'Partner B" will have 10 seconds of think time to come up with a response.

  5. "Partner B" will then have 30 seconds to respond to the question; "Partner A" should take notes using the attached note-taking sheet while "Partner B" responds. After Partner B’s response, Partner A will have 15 seconds to share how they'd initially responded to the question.

  6. Complete steps 2-4, this time with "Partner B" posing the question, and "Partner A" responding.

  7. After both partners have responded, students should shake hands and thank each other. Students seated on the "Partner A" side of the room will stay put, while "Partner B" students will all shift down one chair.

  8. Repeat until each "Partner A" has spoken with each "Partner B".

  9. Over time, the level of question asked can be increased (move from comprehension-level to inferential questions) or students can be asked to write their own questions. Similarly, as students become more familiar with this strategy, the length of the expected conversation can increase.

Recommended Newsela Texts or Text Sets

Banned Books Week

  • Grade Level: 9-12
  • Content Area: ELA, Social Studies


Global Cultures

  • Grade Level: 6-12
  • Content Area: Social Studies


Technology Trouble

  • Essential Question: Is technology harmful or helpful?
  • Grade Level: 7-8
  • Content Area: Science, ELA

EL Modification

EL students are supported in this lesson because they are able to practice brief, structured conversations. This supports their conversational vocabulary. They are also able to practice with academic vocabulary, based on the questions teachers write. As teachers continue to practice this strategy and release responsibility to students to write their own questions, EL students are scaffolded because they can write questions at their level, and have the benefit of previous questions to use as models.



  • Teachers can provide common sentence stems and frames to EL students to support them in responding to questions from their peers.