Students are more engaged in reading when they can form connections and have a purpose for reading. Teachers can accomplish both of these tasks by providing opportunities for students to think and discuss before reading; this front-loaded processing time allows students to activate their schema and thus enables deeper comprehension. An effective strategy to use for this purpose is a "Think, Read, Share," and using Newsela makes this strategy even more engaging for students. Newsela allows students the opportunity to interact with the text and track their thinking from before to after reading through the use of annotations and write prompts.
Teacher Preparation and Planning:
Select an appropriate Newsela text or Text Set. The selected text or Text Set should have clear connections to the current unit of study, and should lend itself to an open-ended, thought-provoking question.
Craft an open-ended question that will prime student thinking and serve as an Essential Question to get students ready to read.
Many Newsela Text Sets contain "Essential Questions," which are very useful with this strategy. Teachers can find these Essential Questions within the Text Set description, as in the example in the Resources section.
Read the essential question and respond in writing.
Newsela PRO users can edit the Write Prompt to display the Essential Question and have students respond digitally.
Non-PRO users can have students respond in their journals.
After students have had an opportunity to write their responses to the essential question, have them share with a few peers. Teachers may consider using "Clock Buddies," as in the resources section, and have students share with at least 2 of their Clock Buddies.
After listening to their partners' responses, students should add new ideas to their original response. Teachers may choose to provide the sentence stems in the resources section to support students in adding to their original responses.
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.
Read and annotate the article. Students should annotate for any details related to the original question. Teachers can display the slide in the Resources section, which includes the questions listed below, to help focus students' thinking during reading:
Which details answer the Essential Question?
Which details support my before reading response to the Essential Question?
Which details have changed my thinking about the Essential Question?
After reading, students should revisit their before reading response to the Essential Question and their annotations.
Students should add details from the article to support their answer.
Newsela PRO users can have students continue to use the Write Prompt for this piece.
Non-PRO users can have students revise in their journals.
Students should then visit with the same Clock Buddies from the beginning of the class and share their new responses.
Teachers may use the Essential Question to springboard into a larger writing task.
For example, students can search for other articles about the same topic and refine their answer to then write a persuasive essay.
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Some students benefit from the opportunity to process verbally before writing. Even though this strategy is designed as an informal, pre-writing exercise, teachers may choose to allow students to visit with Clock Buddies before answering the Focus Question in the Before Reading steps. This will allow students to brainstorm with peers before having to put something in writing.
Teachers of secondary students can use this strategy to teach appropriate citation of sources, as students may choose to use direct quotes from the article or Text Set in their After Reading response. The Purdue Online Writing Lab (OWL), linked in the Resources section, is a great resource for in-text citations.