Creating a Timeline Using Newsela with Elementary Students

Students use Newsela articles to put events in chronological order
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Timeline Using Newsela Screencast

About This Strategy

For conceptual understanding of a text or topic, students must understand a sequence of events. A great way to accomplish this is to create timelines. Students can create a timeline after reading a Newsela article to demonstrate their understanding of an event or a series of events and to teach others about it.

Before Reading Implementation Steps

Teacher Preparation and Planning:

  1. Select an appropriate Newsela text or Text Set. The text or Text Set should be related to the current unit of study and should include some sort of chronology of events for students to explore.

Student Preparation:

  1. Review time words with students. Teachers may choose to provide an anchor chart for students to reference during reading. Teachers may also choose to have students brainstorm words as a whole class in order to create a list.

    • For lower elementary students, review dates and numbers that represent years.

    • For upper elementary students, review words like then, before, later, after, previously, which indicate time.

During Reading Implementation Steps

  1. 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.

  2. Students should scan the article one time, using the annotations feature to highlight any words that indicate time.

    • Lower elementary students should look for words that indicate years or months.

    • Upper elementary students should look for words like before, after, etc.

  3. After scanning the article, students should read the article, paying special attention to the events that occurred at the points that they highlighted. Students should take notes about these events.

    • Teachers of lower elementary students might consider having students use a graphic organizer like the one in the resources section.

    • Teachers of upper elementary students might consider having students add to their annotations in Newsela to take notes by noting what the event is, when it occurred, and why it is important.

After Reading Implementation Steps

  1. Students should use a timeline template, like the one in the resources section, to place the events they found in chronological order.

  2. The timelines should be displayed around the room, and students can engage in a Gallery Walk activity to view their peers' timelines. To learn more, consult the Newsela Gallery Walk With Secondary Students strategy in the BetterLesson Lab.

  3. After completing their timeline and reviewing others, students should answer the following questions in their journals:

    • Which event on your timeline is most important? Why?

    • Which event is least important? Why?

    • Select one event that clearly leads to another event. Explain how the first event leads to the next event.

Recommended Newsela Texts or Text Sets

Washington, D.C.: The Nation's Capital

  • Grade Level: 3
  • Content Area: Social Studies

Life Cycles: Metamorphosis

  • Grade Level: 3
  • Content Area: Science

Natural Disasters: Focusing on Recent Hurricanes

  • Grade Level: 3-5
  • Content Area: Science, Social Studies

Tech Tools for Timeline Creation

Using technology tools can increase student engagement and provide for more choice during creation of a timeline.

Implementation Steps:

  1. Students should complete the same before and after reading steps listed above, but they may choose to use one of the Tech Tools listed in the resources section to create their timeline.