Newsela Body Maps for Secondary Students

A body map is a visual representation that shows a student's comprehension of an individual in a text
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Body Maps Introduction

About This Strategy

A Body Map is a tool for students to identify key character traits of or insights about an individual they are reading about in a biography article or text. A body map has certain requirements (listed below) that students must determine and analyze through reading  and assign to different parts of their body map. For example, a student can create a quote bubble for their person's famous quotes and a heart with information from the text that covers what that person felt passionate about. Teachers can use Newsela texts or text sets about different people throughout history and the modern day to have students research the person about whom they are creating a body map . This activity works particularly well if a teacher creates a text set of different people on a certain topic. For example, a teacher can create a text set of famous scientists or Civil Rights activists for students to research and create body maps. Included in the implementation steps below are sample directions for an example body map students could create. These directions below could be changed or adapted based on the particular subject or topic that students are researching.

Before Reading Implementation Steps

Teacher Preparation and Planning:

  1. Select an appropriate text or text set that aligns to your content or subject area of focus. For example, in a Social Studies or ELA classroom, the articles could be a focused biography of an individual. As an extension, consider selecting a variety of people that have a similar connection related to the topic or subject area, and create a text set for students to read about those people (i.e., Explorers, Scientists, or Civil Rights Activists).

  2. If you have Newsela PRO access, you could encourage students to use the annotation tool to identify the different elements of the Body Map. If you do not have Newsela Pro features, you could print the article for the student and have them highlight material in the text based on the different parts of the directions.

  3. Encourage students to use annotations, either in the program with Newsela PRO or with a highlighter on the printed out copy, to help find information that connects to the different requirements of the Body Map.

Student Preparation:

  1. Provide an example Body Map for students to see.

  2. Assign the article or text set and include the assignment instructions.

  3. Encourage students to use Annotations to find information that will help answer the requirements of the Body Map. Recommend to students that they can use different colors to highlight different elements of the text to match with the different requirements (i.e., Heart could be highlighted red). These highlight marks can be shared with students beforehand so the whole class uses the same marks, or students can develop their own highlights.

During Reading Implementation Steps

  1. Ask students to read the assigned article or select one from the text set.

  2. Share the following directions with students aloud and/or in the Assignment Instructions portion of Newsela:

    • Identify in the text the following information, and use different colors to annotate the different requirements. Based on the selected text, the teacher can determine which of the following elements to require on the poster.

      • Head/Brain: Dreams or goals in life

      • Mouth/Dialogue Bubble: Famous quote from the person

      • Shoulders: Why they are famous

      • Hands: Changes or impact they made on the world

      • Heart: Things the person felt strongly about or believed in

      • Feet: A timeline of important events from their life

    • Complete the Quiz

    • Students can also answer the Writing Prompt answering the Essential Question for the reading or Text Set.

After Reading Implementation Steps

  1. Develop a rubric for evaluating the students' work on the poster and the different requirements of the finished Body Map. (See sample body map rubric in the resources below.)

  2. Have each student develop a Body Map of the individual they researched based on the annotated information from the article. The assignment can also be used as a partner activity.

  3. Extension: Students could be asked to present their finished Body Map to the class highlighting key information about their individual and also answering the Essential Question for the text or text set.

  4. For older students, you can have them find additional articles on the person they are reading about to address combining multiple sources.

Recommended Newsela Texts or Text Sets


  • Essential Question: How have explorers throughout history connected the world in different ways?
  • Grade Level: 6-12
  • Content Area: History/ELA

Greek Mythology

  • Grade Level: 6-12
  • Content Area: History/ELA

Leaders of the American Revolution

  • Essential Question: What values or character traits does this leader illustrate through their words and actions?
  • Grade Level: 3-12
  • Content Area: History/ELA