Perspective Taking Through Newsela Research and Role Play

Explore careers, understand the views of historical figures, and analyze characters through research and role play
8 teachers like this strategy
Perspective Taking

About This Strategy

It can often be difficult for students to imagine what it might be like to be in a certain career, understand the decisions made by historical figures, or understand the views of fictional characters. Sometimes the vision and reality are not aligned. This strategy can help students understand what it takes to think and perform in a particular career for CTE students by allowing them to research that career and then engage in role play to "experience" that career. The strategy of research and role play can also be used in other content areas to help students understand the views of historical figures and/or fictional characters based on the events that they experienced.

Before Reading Implementation Steps

Teacher Preparation and Planning: 

  1. Identify a specific career area to have your students research that aligns to the curriculum and content. For example, students could choose a career in manufacturing, business, or health.

  2. Create a list of job titles and job descriptions that are rooted in that career cluster. To find job descriptions, search job posting sites such as Indeed.

  3. Decide how students will present their research about their selected career. Some ideas are: 

    • Whole Class Role Playing: 

      • The class pretends to be a company, and each student is given a role in that company. The students can work in their role to complete a specific group task or to recreate a product. Each student has their own unique job in the development of that product or in the completion of the task. When completed, students present their part of the process or share out their completed task. For example

        1. Students are tasked with designing a miniature golf course. Each student has a role such as designer, builder, marketing & branding, accountant. Tweak the roles to align with the class objectives, and let the students have fun and learn through exploring

        2. The product does not have to be physical per say. You could have students create a website, newspaper, poster, etc. This allows teachers to participate without needing to have the tools or teach the physical skills of a job.

      • Each student in the class is assigned a job title. As a class, they create and play out a skit showing a typical work day and how they interact with others they would in that role.

    • Individual Student Share Out

      • Have students identify someone who works in the same job title they are assigned. Students will contact and interview that person and create a presentation or essay about that career.

      • Students research a particular job and present out possible tasks they would complete daily

  4. Identify Newsela texts and Text Sets that relate to the careers students are researching. Also gather additional resources that students could use in their research including websites where they can learn about their job and local companies that are in the career cluster you are focused on.

  5. Create a rubric based on the desired outcomes that will be used to grade the role play or presentation.

Student Preparation: 

  1. Present the project to the students including the rubric and the list of job titles to choose from. 

    • You may ask students if they have other ideas that may have been missed or are tangential to that industry, for example manufacturing would have engineers, plant managers and line workers, but they also have accountants, sales, and HR. This freedom can enhance student interest when they identify something they find interesting.

  2. Have students identify a specific job they would like to research or assign a job to each student to research.  

  3. Based on the selected activity, students will need to do the following:

    • Research their career to understand the roles and responsibilities. 

    • Work with their class to plan out how to recreate a product or complete a project in their designated roles.

    • Create a script that pertains to their job.

    • Interview someone who currently holds that job.

During Reading Implementation Steps

  1. Have students read the identified Newsela articles and/or Text Sets to better understand the career they are researching.

  2. As they are reading, have students record and cite information that will be used in the project

    • Newsela PRO TIP- Teachers can use the Annotation feature to guide students to pull good information from the text and prompt them to think about a specific aspect of the career. Students can also use this feature to dissect the text for later inspection as they create their presentation.

  3. If desired, you may have students complete the Quiz and Write activities after they read each article to add to their binder progress data, however this isn't a must if deemed unnecessary.

After Reading Implementation Steps

  1. Have students assume the career they researched and then work with their class or independently to create their artifacts or presentations.

  2. Students present their work in the manner determined.

    • Consider inviting outside stakeholders to view the presentations and offer feedback. This feedback could also include if the student had an authentic perspective of that career.

  3. Debrief with students after all the presentations, and collect feedback on how their perspectives might have changed since beginning the project by either engaging in a whole class discussion or by having students complete an exit ticket.

Recommended Newsela Text or Text Sets

Career Day Cruising

  • Grade Level: 6-12
  • Content Area: All

Careers: Industrial Production Manager

  • Grade Level: 6-12
  • Content Area: Career & Technical Education

Careers: Registered Nurse

  • Grade Level: 6-12
  • Content Area: Health Science

Perspective Taking in a Social Studies or ELA Classroom

Perspective Taking can be used in all content areas and designed to focus on topics included in those content areas. Taking on a new perspective and learning from that perspective can have a great influence on the students.

Implementation Steps for a Social Studies or ELA Class:

  1. Have students select a historical figure or character related to the unit of study. For example:

    • If students are studying World War II, they can take on the roles of world leaders during the war. 

    • If students are studying a text, they can take on the roles of key characters. If they are reading "To Kill a Mockingbird," for example, they can be Atticus Finch, Boo Radley, or Bob Ewell.

  2. Give students time to research the historical figure or fictional character on Newsela, focusing on what influenced him/her and what was going on at the time.

  3. Have students craft a written position statement in the voice of the selected historical figure/character that includes what the student believes the selected focus person's perspective is on the historical event or events in the text.

  4. Have students share their position statement with peers for feedback. Peers can provide feedback using a feedback protocol such as "I Like, I Wish, and I Wonder" or "I Notice and I Wonder."

  5. Students engage in a structured debate in the roles of their historical figure or character. Some examples of structured debate strategies are included in the resource section below. 

  6. After the debate, provide students time to reflect on what they felt and what they learned throughout the role playing exercise. Some ways to do this reflection are to engage in a class discussion, have students respond to an exit ticket, or post a discussion question to your class discussion board.

Questions to Consider

  • What is the end goal of the project?
  • How much time is available to complete the project?

  • What bias do the students and the teacher have that could influence their perspectives?

Teacher Tips

Adam Trebel
Newsela Master Teacher
  • Because perspective is a very personal and unique experience, grading objectively can be difficult. Creating a rubric that assesses objective aspects of the project can help students feel free to really explore the perspective and not worry about having the "right" answer.

  • A discussion about teamwork can be beneficial when talking about careers and how they interact.

  • A discussion about bias is important when students take on new perspectives.