Tag Archives: annotations

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“Level Up” Your Teaching with Newsela Pro

This is the second post in a series of three, and it focuses on ideas for Newsela Pro users. For ideas for the free version of Newsela, check out my last post.

So you have access to Newsela Pro, but you only use the quizzes. Here are two easy ways you can “level up” how you use Newsela Pro in your classroom.

  1. Supporting Writing and Academic Language with the Write Prompt

I recently had the opportunity to work with a group of English language Learners. In the lesson, we looked at conflicts occurring in Syria. I chose a Newsela article about the teenage rebels that fighting in the conflict .

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The purpose of the lesson was for students to use a graphic organizer to track causes and effects of teenagers being involved in the war. You can check out the lesson plan for resources. Every Newsela article comes with a Write prompt, where students respond to a CCSS standard-aligned question. If you have access to Newsela Pro, you are able to edit the Write prompt. For this class, I embedded these sentence frames into the Write prompt in order the scaffold their responses.

  • One factor that has caused teenagers to fight in Syria is __________________. Another reason that teens are fighting is ________________. (Other factors causing teens to fight include ___________).
  • One of the effects of teenagers fighting in Syria is _____________. Additional impacts from teens fighting include _________________________.Screen Shot 2017-03-19 at 3.24.10 PM

2. Scaffolding Complex Texts with Annotations and the Lexile Selector

What are the major three shifts of the English language arts and literacy common core standards is text complexity. Newsela’s Lexile feature allows students to change the complexity of text to suit their comprehension. However, there are times I want to really challenge them with the text at or above their grade level. One way I can do this while still scaffolding students is this adaption of the “Trying on the Most Difficult Text First” strategy from this International Literacy Association publication on close reading.

  • Use Newsela’s annotation questions or create your own annotation questions in a complex version (for your grade level and students) of the article.
  • Ask students to make initial responses to the answers, and annotate their own confusions.
  • Then have students read a more comfortable Lexile version of the article to aid comprehension.
  • Next, have students return to the complex Lexile version and revise their responses.

This method encourages students to tackle rigorous text, while also providing scaffolding for them to grow as readers!

If you want to hear about any of these strategies in depth, access the Newsela “Celebrate the Educator” webinar in which I share 6 strategies for “leveling up” with Newsela.

What are some interesting ways that you are using Newsela Pro features with your students?

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“Level Up” your Teaching with Newsela’s Free Features

So you’ve started using Newsela, but you haven’t done much besides having students access articles and possibly taking quizzes. I’ll offer some new ways you could use Newsela to “level up” implementation in your classroom. This post is the first in a series of three short posts, and it focuses on ideas for the free version of Newsela than any teacher can use.

  1. Highlight Purposefully as a Reading and Research Strategy

Newsela comes equipped with a highlighting feature. Students can use up to four colors to code text in different ways. For example, last year I had 9th grade English students participate in an inquiry unit called “The Grown-up Project.” Students were tasked at reading literary and informational texts for evidence that would answer the following compelling question: “What primarily causes someone to grow up: the aging process, external events, or personal choices?” For the informational texts, students selected articles from a Newsela text set that I created, looking for evidence to answer the question. I assigned students to use a different highlighting color for each of the possible types of evidence as well as the fourth color to highlight the quote they believed was most important in the article.

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2. Differentiated Reading Groups

One of the main reasons I love Newsela is that each text has a Lexile selector that allows you to differentiate readability at five levels. It is an amazing tool to differentiate with dignity.  If your students have access to devices, that can very easily select the levels for themselves. However, if you don’t have devices, you can print articles on whatever level you choose. One way to use this feature is creating differentiated reading groups.

Students can be divided into groups where each group reads a different article under a the same topic or theme. However, each group’s article can be leveled differently based upon the current proficiencies of that certain group (obviously, the teacher would need to create groups for this to work well). As an example, my colleague Lily, a biology teacher, created a genetics text set, where each student group read about a selective breeding and genetically modified organisms. Each article was leveled differently based upon the current proficiencies of the group. Then, a member of each group jigsawed with members from other groups in order to share information about their articles. All of the students were on equal playing field in regards to content, even if they had texts at different Lexile levels. By the way, since each group has a different article, it is not obvious that they have different readabilities. 

If you want to hear about any of these strategies in depth, access the Newsela “Celebrate the Educator” webinar in which I shared the 6 strategies for “leveling up” with Newsela.  

What are some interesting ways that you are using the free version of Newsela with your students?