Applying Science and Engineering Practices to Effect Change Using Newsela for Secondary Students

Students will research a science or engineering challenge, construct explanations, and design solutions for it
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Explanation of Newsela Quest
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About This Strategy

This strategy focuses on the NGSS Science and Engineering Practices standard #6 that asks them to construct explanations and to design solutions. To build their knowledge about the science or engineering topic, students engage in research by reading Newsela texts or a Text Set using a guided Newsela quest. Then, students construct their own explanations about the science or engineering topic, as well as apply standard explanations they learn about from reading Newsela texts. Once students have constructed an explanation of the topic they have researched, they can then design solutions in order to effect change.

Before Reading Implementation Steps

Teacher Preparation and Planning:

  1. Determine which science or engineering topic students will research and design a solution for.

  2. Develop a Newsela Quest in which students research a topic to determine cause and effect and to construct explanations. Refer to the "Climate Change Newsela Quest: Cause and Effect Graphic Organizer" in the resource section below for an example.

  3. Select Newsela texts or Text Sets for students to read about the topic. If students are researching and designing solutions for climate change, for example, consult the Recommended Newsela Texts or Text Sets section below for some suggested texts for students to read.

    • Decide whether to have students read about the topic (such as climate change) broadly, or whether to explore specific aspects of climate change (such as the effects of climate change on a particular region).

Student Preparation:

  1. Introduce students to the topic they will research by having them use a KWL organizer, an Anticipation Guide, or another tool to have students access their background knowledge about a topic. Refer to the resource section below for some background knowledge building strategies to consider.

  2. Preview with students the Newsela quest they will engage in while reading about the topic. Refer to the Climate Change Newsela Quest: Cause and Effect Graphic organizer linked in the resource section below.

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 read assigned or selected Newsela texts based on the topic (such as a specific area of climate change) that they are focused on for their research. As students read, have them complete the Newsela quest on the topic, or use Newsela annotations to take notes on the topic they are researching.

After Reading Implementation Steps

  1. Have students share what they have learned about the topic they researched with a partner. With the partner, have students begin to brainstorm potential solutions for the issue or problem related to the topic.

  2. Once students have made a list of potential solutions, have them share the solutions with another group of students to give and receive feedback. While students are giving each other feedback, have them respond to the following questions:

    • Why is this a strong solution to the problem?

    • What questions do you have about the solution?

    • What else should your peers consider as they further design their solution to the problem?

  3. Instruct students to share and display their problems and solutions with the school community. Some options are having students:

    • create a brochure to distribute throughout the school about the problem and solution (brochure and rubric for Climate Change project is included in the resource section below)

    • write a letter to a person in political office (a mayor or even the President) to share the problem and their suggested solution.

    • develop a presentation highlighting the problem and solution to share with a local organization that could help to effect change.

    • develop a proposal for how to effect change themselves that they can share with the school principal or other key stakeholders.

Recommended Newsela Text or Text Sets

Applying Science and Engineering Practices to Effect Change

  • Essential Question: Can an explanation of climate change and a solution to solve climate change occur?
  • Grade Level:8-12
  • Content Area: Environmental Science, Physical Science

Responding To Climate Change

  • Essential Question: Given the effects of climate change- can an informed proposal be developed for how the US should respond?
  • Grade Level:8-12
  • Content Area: Environmental Science

Climate Change Debate

  • Essential Question: What are some of the ways people propose we combat climate change?
  • Grade Level:8-12
  • Content Area: Environmental Science, Physical Science