Visual Information Analysis Using Newsela for Elementary Students

Students analyze and explain information presented in a chart, map, cartoon or infographic that accompanies an article they're reading
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Student After Reading Share Out

About This Strategy

Texts come in many forms -- from written to visual -- and it is important for students to be able to comprehend and analyze all forms of texts. In this strategy, students focus on informational text features such as charts, graphs, maps, cartoons, or infographics to complement their understanding of an assigned article or a topic of their choice. Then students communicate and demonstrate their understanding using the Newsela Write Prompt feature.

Before Reading Implementation Steps

Teacher Preparation and Planning:

  1. Plan to review various text features including charts, graphs, maps, cartoons or infographics. Consider having visual examples of each and/or a Nonfiction Text Features digital presentation (various examples are easily available online; refer to one example included in the Resources section below).

  2. Newsela article selection:

    • Create a Newsela Text Set for students to select articles from. Make sure that the selected articles contain various nonfiction text features. The Text Set should include articles on a variety of topics relevant to the content taught and/or of high student interest. To learn how to narrow your search, refer to the Newsela tutorial included in the resource section below.

    • Tip: While searching for articles containing various text features, type: "articles with graphics (or maps, or graphs, etc)" in the Newsela article search engine. Make sure you open and review each article to ensure it contains the desired text feature.

    • Consider selecting one of the text sets from the Recommended Text Sets section below which contain a variety of nonfiction text features to analyze.

  3. While perusing articles containing various text features, look for the Write Prompt Activity.

    • Newsela PRO users have the ability to edit the Write Prompt by posing a question that pertains to the specific use of the nonfiction text feature in the Newsela article.

    • Non Newsela PRO users can have students respond to a customized prompt on a sheet of paper or digitally.

    • Examples of how to modify the Write Prompt to reflect the purpose of this lesson:

      • List all nonfiction text features featured in the article.

      • Briefly describe how these text features helped you understand the text better.

  4. Make a determination regarding how to group your students: independent or in pairs.  Locate the Cooperative Learning Chart in the resource section below, if needed, to use as a reference to remind students working in pairs about the group expectations.

  5. Optional: Locate and make copies (or enable digital access to) the Nonfiction Text Feature Analysis Template to be used by students during reading. Refer to the example in the resource section below.

Student Preparation:

  1. Explain the purpose of the task to students and how it relates to the daily objective or learning target. Text features contribute to a better understanding of the text. Students need to be reminded that text features are essential components of a nonfiction text which contribute to better understanding of the text. Depending on their purpose, they help readers:

    • visualize the content (examples: photographs, illustrations, and/or diagrams)

    • navigate within the text (examples: headings, subheadings, index)

    • highlight key details or important vocabulary (examples: glossary, bold font, italics).   

  2. Review various nonfiction text features including graphs, maps, cartoons or infographics using a Nonfiction Text Features digital presentation (various examples are easily available online; refer to one example included in the Resources section below).

  3. Model for students how to access articles on Newsela.

  4. Model for students how to use the Annotations and Write Prompt features on Newsela.

  5. Using teacher discretion, form pairs and discuss with students group responsibilities which could include: a recorder/typist, a reader (if a pair of students decides to read aloud, etc.). Students may consider taking turns in sharing these responsibilities. If students prefer working independently, make this option available as well.

  6. Review the task, timeline, expectations, and evaluative tools.

  7. Optional: Provide students with the Nonfiction Text Feature Analysis Template to be used during reading. Model how to complete it using the example included in the template.

During Reading Implementation Steps

  1. Assign the Newsela article or Text Set and 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. Have students explore various articles within the assigned Text Set on Newsela to identify the ones that peak their interest. Consider the following options:

    • Each student in a group selects one article of their interest, and then shares it out with other group members.

    • Students who prefer to work in pairs (e.g., EL students who may need peer support) select one article, work on it together, and then share with another pair or students.

  3. Have students read an article of their choice and annotate it. PRO Newsela users can have students annotate using a color coding system, then write notes/questions/comments on the annotations. Non-PRO Newsela users can have students annotate using a color coding system. Students should use the following color annotations:

    • YELLOW: Highlight the content within the text that is supported by nonfiction text features.

    • RED: Highlight the content that would benefit from having nonfiction text feature support.

    • GREEN: Highlight a nonfiction text feature (or an element of it) that presents information which is not addressed in the main text.

    • BLUE: Highlight a nonfiction text feature that you have questions about

  4. Optional: Have students complete the Nonfiction Text Feature Analysis Template as they read the Newsela article included in the resource section below.

After Reading Implementation Steps

  1. Prepare the class for the share out session where individual students, or pairs meet with one another and share their findings. Provide additional time, if needed, for students to confer with their partner the specifics of their share out. Students present their analyses either verbally (during the group sharing rotation) or using Google Classroom, Canvas, Flipgrid, Seesaw or any other digital platform to another individual, pair and/or the rest of the class.

  2. Conclude the share out session with an Exit Ticket activity where students are asked to respond to the following question: How can nonfiction text features help you better understand a text? Provide examples.

Recommended Newsela Texts or Text Sets

Nonfiction Text Features - Science

  • Essential Question: How did the nonfiction text features contribute to your understanding of the text?
  • Grade Level: 3-6
  • Content Area: Science, Engineering, Math

Nonfiction Text Features - Social Sciences

  • Essential Question: What is the role of nonfiction text features in a text?
  • Grade Level: 3-6
  • Content Area: Social Studies

Nonfiction Text Features - U.S. Geography

  • Essential Question: How do nonfiction text features support the text?
  • Grade Level: 3-6
  • Content Area: Social Studies

Digital Visual Information Analysis Share Out

As yet another After-Reading option, consider doing a digital share out using Flipgrid or Seesaw.

Implementation Steps:

  1. Once students complete their task, have them video record a brief summary of their conclusions using Newsela article as a resource (or the optional Nonfiction Text Feature Analysis Template.)

  2. When finished, asked them to view at least 2-3 Flipgrid/Seesaw recordings of their peers, and instead of jotting down the new information using the written form of the Exit Ticket, have students record a response where they share what they learned from each classmate.

EL Modification

EL students will benefit from peer assisted support during this activity. EL students should be paired up with a compatible peer who can be responsible for tasks that are not yet comfortable for EL students, such as share outs.

Providing EL students with a digital share out option will allow them to take multiple attempts to record (if needed) enabling them to fully participate in this stage of the lesson.

Additionally, the use of visuals has been a proven strategy that supports EL students' second language acquisition. Visual aids help EL students absorb the content therefore making them more confident and willing to participate in the activities.


  • EL students (Spanish speaking) who are not proficient in English should take advantage of the Spanish versions of Newsela articles (if available) to support their comprehension and enable them to fully participate in the Visual Information Analysis activity. Refer to the Newsela tutorial on how to search for articles in Spanish included in the resource section below.