Reading Comprehension Metacognition using Newsela with Elementary Students

Students note any confusing points as they read a text and then they discuss with a partner to answer questions and determine main idea
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Reading Comprehension Metacognition Student Explanation
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About This Strategy

In this strategy, students use their metacognitive skills to critically think aloud as they read and annotate a Newsela article. Students then ask questions of the text and note points that confused them while reading. Together with a partner, students share their questions and points of confusion in order to better understand the text. Finally, they demonstrate their understanding of the text by completing a Write Prompt about the main idea of the text read.

Before Reading Implementation Steps

Teacher Preparation and Planning: 

  1. Select or create a Newsela Text Set organized around a particular theme that relates to the current unit of study.

    • If choosing to selecting a Newsela Text Set, consider clicking the Text Sets tab which shows the text set menu to notice the following categories: Featured Text Sets, Text Sets for each subject area or Text Sets by Teachers in grade bands 2-5 and 6-12.

    • If choosing to create a Text Sets based on the interests of your students, refer to the information on how to create a Text Set using the link provided in the Resource Section below. 

  2. Prepare an Annotation Key that students will use while reading an assigned article or an article of their choice. For example:

    • RED: highlight/note any confusing points in the text

    • YELLOW: highlight/note the main idea of the text

    • GREEN: highlight/note any text evidence supporting the main idea of the text

  3. Make a determination regarding whether students will work independently on the task or in groups.

  4. Edit the Write Prompt to reflect the task at hand. For example: "Write the main idea of the article based on the evidence from the text." Refer to the example provided in the Resource Section. 

  5. Optional: Locate and make copies of Reading Comprehension Metacognition Chart to use by students during reading, if needed.

Student Preparation: 

  1. Explain the concept and role of metacognition to your students and consider creating an anchor chart or use the example included in the resource section below. For example, Metacognition is: 

    • the ability to reflect on one's own thinking and learning

    • thinking about one's thinking 

  2. Describe the purpose of the task including the following steps:

    • Read the assigned article.

    • Make annotations using the Annotation Key while reading the article to determine the main idea of the text as well as any confusing points along the way.

    • Write the main idea of the text read using the Write Prompt after a discussion with peers. 

  3. Model for students how to access texts and/or Text Sets on Newsela including features like Annotations and Write Prompt. (To learn more about using Newsela Annotations and Write Prompt, consult the resource section below.)

  4. Use Think Aloud to model for students how to complete a task using an article of your choice. Make sure to include the following steps in your modeling: 

    • Use the thinking stems included in the anchor chart to show students the thinking process while reading a text.

    • Show students how to tackle a confusing point. For example: "This sentence sounds confusing. Let me reread it. Well, it didn't help. How does this sentence help me understand this article?"

    • Show students how to identify the main idea of the article (look at the title, the first/last sentence of the article, etc.).

    • Show students how to select/annotate details to support the main idea. Model how to determine whether a detail does support the main idea or does not. 

    • Show students how to write a response using the Write Prompt. 

  5. Using teacher discretion, form groups of two or three students. Refer to the Cooperative Learning Chart in the resource section below, if needed. If students prefer working independently, make this option available as well.

During Reading Implementation Steps

  1. Assign the Newsela article or Text Set to students, and decide whether to provide them 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 articles within the assigned Text Sets on Newsela to identify the ones that peak their interest or assign specific articles within the Text Set to students/groups. 

  3. Have students read and annotate the assigned Newsela articles (or articles of their choice) individually or in groups. Consider creating a color coded system, or, if you're a PRO user, write annotations to help students respond to nonfiction article. An example of a color coded annotation system for Non-PRO/PRO Newsela Users: 

    • RED: highlight/note any confusing points in the text

    • YELLOW: highlight/note the main idea of the text

    • GREEN: highlight/note any text evidence supporting the main idea of the text

  4. Have students complete the edited Write Prompt about the main idea of the article AFTER a peer discussion about confusing points and/or misconceptions encountered while reading the article.

After Reading Implementation Steps

  1. Conference with a partner to share points of confusion and try to work together to solve those points of confusion by re-reading the text. 

  2. Complete the Write Prompt about the main idea and supporting details. 

  3. Have students share their experience and points of confusion in a whole class forum.

  4. Ask students to reflect on the lesson by completing an Exit Ticket and responding to the following questions: 

    • How did your peers tackle points of confusion?

    • How will this exercise help you tackle a text in a future and any potential points of confusion?

Recommended Newsela Text or Text Sets

Source: Featured Text Sets

  • Text Set Title: That's Debatable
  • Grade Level: 4-8
  • Content Area: Science, Social Studies, ELA

Source: Text Sets for Social Studies

  • Text Set Title: Women's Civil Rights Movement 
  • Grade Level: 4-6
  • Content Area: Social Studies, ELA

Source: Text Sets for Science

  • Text Set Title: Agriculture Experiments: 
  • Grade Level: 4-6
  • Content Area: Science, Social Studies, Technology, ELA

Source: Featured Text Sets

  • Text Set Title: Robotics: Argument & Debate Unit
  • Grade Level: 4-8
  • Content Area: Technology, Science, ELA

Source: Library - Primary Sources

  • Text Set Title: Primary Sources: Famous Speeches
  • Grade Level: 4-8
  • Content Area: Social Studies, ELA