Newsela Classroom Routines for Elementary Students

Engage students in developing routines to use with Newsela to clarify purpose and process
30 teachers like this strategy
Classroom Routines with Newsela for Elementary Students

About This Strategy

Routines are essential to creating an environment in which students can work efficiently and independently. While Newsela can be used in a variety of ways and across all subject areas, there are specific guidelines for interacting with Newsela which set everyone up for success no matter how the resource is being used that day. Since students in the intermediate grades are transitioning from learning to read to reading to learn, establishing basic routines can help set students up for success in interacting with a variety of informational texts.

Before Reading Implementation Steps

Teacher Preparation and Planning:

  1. Determine the purpose for using Newsela in the classroom. This will help teachers develop routines and procedures that set students up for success no matter the end goal. Possible purposes include:

    • Practice reading and interacting with informational texts

    • Intentional practice of the 8 anchor reading standards found within Newsela articles

    • Using articles and Text Sets as a supplement to the information they are learning in class

  2. Consider the following questions in order to determine the purpose:

    • How will reading Newsela articles independently improve my students' reading comprehension skills?

    • How will reading Newsela articles improve my students' discussion skills?

    • How will reading Newsela articles help me to track my students' progress?

  3. Establish a routine based on best practices for engaging with informational texts. With upper elementary students, teachers could involve students in the process of establishing routines.

  4. Explicitly share the routine with students.

  5. Model what the routine looks like for both teacher-assigned articles as well as self-selected articles. See example class routine in the resource section below.

  6. Post an anchor chart with expectations that students can reference while using Newsela.

Student Preparation:

  1. Clearly communicate classroom routines with Newsela so students are prepared to be actively engaged in reading.

  2. Assign an article or a variety of articles for students to read independently, so students can practice the routines.

During Reading Implementation Steps

  1. When reading a teacher-selected Newsela text, students should follow the class routines in place and should:

  • Read all the information written in the instructions on the assignment.

  • Read the title, subheading, and section headings.

  • Look at all the images and read all the captions.

  • Read the article in its entirety.

  • Respond to any Annotations or the Write Prompt as directed in the instructions.

    • If students are reading a self-selected article, they should follow the first four steps above and add in at least five Annotations of their choosing. Annotating is a key component of reading because it helps students understand that text is to be interacted with instead of just consumed. As an alternative to annotating within Newsela, teachers can print articles and have students annotate them using pencils, pens, and highlighters. To learn more about the importance of annotations, consult Beyond the Yellow Highlighter: Teaching Annotation Skills to Improve Reading Comprehension by Carol Porter-O'Donnell.

  • Take the Quiz.

    • If students score less than 50% on the Quiz, they should drop the article down one Lexile level and try again. If students were already on the lowest Lexile level, they should consult with the teacher.

After Reading Implementation Steps

  1. Engage in a discussion about how the routine worked and if there should be any modifications made to it.

  2. Have students discuss with a partner how well they did following the reading routine and set a goal for the next time they read an article on Newsela.

  3. Follow best practice by reading 2 articles a week or 8 articles a month and having teachers engage in conferences with students in order to analyze their progress toward their individual literacy goals by analyzing their Newsela data.

Recommended Newsela Texts or Text Sets

Getting Started Text Set

  • Grade Level: 2-5
  • Content Area: All

Reading Between the Lines: Why Comprehension Matters

  • Grade Level: 4-8
  • Content Area: ELA

Vocational Studies: STEM

  • Grade Level: 2-12
  • Content Area: STEM

Questions to Consider

  • What do you want your students to get out of using Newsela?

  • Do your students have prior experience with Newsela?

  • What type of readers do you have? Routines with emerging readers may be different than routines for proficient readers.

Teacher Tips

Kristen Rafferty
Newsela Master Teacher
  • Model routines with your students and have an anchor chart with expectations that students can reference while using Newsela.

  • Adapt routines based on why students are interacting with Newsela. For example, if the purpose of reading is to improve specific reading skills, teachers may ask students to focus their annotations on those specific skills. If the purpose of reading is to supplement curricular material, annotations or the Write Prompt could be focused on how the article is related to that classroom content.  

  • Routines do not need to be set in stone and can change over the course of the year as your students become more skilled at interacting with informational text.

EL Modifications

Though set routines can be helpful for all students, they can be especially helpful for EL students. Once EL students have learned and practiced the reading routine, they can focus on the content instead of trying to understand the directions.


  • If Spanish is a student's native language, have the student read the Newsela article in Spanish first before they switch to the English version.

  • When needed, use a text-to-speech feature to have the article read aloud.

  • Have specific prompts with which EL students can use to start their annotations.

  • Allow students to make some, if not all, of their annotations in their first language. This way they can focus on what they want to say without worrying about a language barrier.