Newsela offers a wide variety of informational articles across many subject areas with new content added daily. While there is certainly something for everyone, having so much choice can, at times, be overwhelming for younger students. Since students are more apt to engage in reading that sparks their interest, having the teacher curate a collection of peer-suggested articles will limit the number of options available while still allowing for student choice.
Teacher Preparation and Planning:
Determine if the Text Set your students will create will have a specific theme or if it's open to any topics recommended by students. Content-based articles can be used to create Text Sets that directly supplement core curriculum while free choice articles can be used to build Text Sets that students can access for fun or to build general reading skills.
Decide if students can add to the Text Set just once or if they can add to it over time. If the Text Set is content-specific, it may be advantageous to have a specific time limit in which students can make recommendations. For example, students can add to the text set during that unit of study. If the desired Text Set is more open-ended, such as free-choice articles, students could make recommendations over the course of the year as they find articles that pique their interest.
Introduce the types of articles on Newsela so students are familiar with the various options. For example, in the News category students would find current events and opinion articles while in the Library category students would find all other types of nonfiction.
Model how to use the search and advanced search features of Newsela
Lead a conversation about what students like to read and why they enjoy those topics.
Students should brainstorm a short list of topics they find interesting.
Give students a copy of the Noteworthy Newsela Articles graphic organizer in the resource section below and model how to use it to record notes and ideas as you read.
Explain that, after reading 4-5 self-selected articles, students will be narrowing down their choices to 1-2 favorite reads to add to a curated class collection.
Assign the Newsela article or Text Set. When you create the assignment, you can decide whether to provide it at the Newsela Recommended reading level for each student or adjust the reading level to a particular grade for all students.
Students will read a variety of articles that pique their interest for an allotted period of time.
Students will record the articles they read using the Noteworthy Newsela Articles graphic organizer and justify why that particular article is noteworthy.
After reading four to five articles, students will select one or two favorites that they would like to add to the class Text Set. If the Text Set is centered around a particular theme, students should explain how each article relates to the area of study. If the Text Set is centered around free-choice articles, students should explain why other students would find each article interesting.
Depending on the resources available to students, students can manually or digitally make peer-recommendations and build the collaborative Text Set. Whether students recommend articles manually or digitally, the teacher will use the information to compile the articles into a Text Set and share the Text Set with the class.
Students record their recommended article(s) using the Peer Recommendation Form included in the resource section below.
The teacher will compile the forms in a 3-ring binder which kids can access while they are using Newsela.
Using a digital format, such as Google Slides or Buncee (see Sample Peer Recommendation Buncee Board below), students will create a visual representation of an article they think their peers would like.
Students will create an engaging tagline for their article to capture the attention of their peers and add it to their visual representation.
Students will add a hyperlink from their visual to the Newsela article they are recommending.
To create a Text Set, a teacher can hover over 'Text Sets' in Newsela and then click 'Your Text Sets'. Once they are on this page, they will see a button that says 'Create A New Text Set'. Teachers can then give their Text Set a name and description and add the articles recommended by their students. Once the text set is created it can be shared with students using the 'share' button. For more information on creating and sharing text sets, please see the Newsela Text Set and Collections Guide in the resource section below.
After the teacher and students create the Text Set, students can have their peers read their recommended articles in the Text Set and have a small group discussion about each text.
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Peer Recommended Articles
Will the Text Set your class creates have a specific theme or will it be open-ended?
Will students add to the Text Set just once or can they add to it over time?
How often will students choose articles to read from the Text Set?
How will students provide feedback to each other on their recommended texts?
If students are having a hard time finding an article of interest, help them narrow it down by searching in one specific category that interests them or that pertains to the topic of study in the class.
Students are more likely to engage in reading if they can relate to the content in some way, and if the content is inclusive and culturally responsive.
Introduce students to texts that include a variety of author's backgrounds, perspectives, races, genders, and ethnicities.
After reading an article, have students talk with their classmates about how they can see themselves in the article (their interests, their experiences, their communities, their cultures, and/or their history) or how the article relates to the world around them. To learn more about including inclusive content in the curriculum, consult the Required Reading Reconsidered blog post in the resource section below.