Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Newsela.com - Information Text at its Best

Have you seen Newsela.com? (pronounced "news - ell'- uh") It is a great online resource that can be utilized in classrooms to give students exposure to information text in the form of current events. Teachers can set up a free class account, with each student getting their own user name and password. The Lexile levels of each article can be easily changed, plus there are Common Core type quizzes for some of the articles.  Here is an introduction to Newsela by one of its CEO's.

On a recent visit to Robert C. Fisler School in Fullerton, CA, I saw a teacher using Newsela in a very innovative way.  She got her idea from a blog by Ron Peck where students used Wordle and Animoto to share what is happening in the world in 30 seconds.  I adapted what I saw there to create my own lesson to teach students about Newsela.  Here is what I did in my lesson on a news article called,  "Arctic heat release may be altering paths of hurricanes, other storms."

Here are the steps I used in my lesson:

1. Each student got registered for NewsELA.  (The teacher had already registered the class and got a group code for students to input.)
2. We read a news article about the Arctic heat release and how it affects weather patterns.
3. They copied the text and pasted it into the Tag Cloud app.
4. They created a Word Cloud, and learned that the largest words in their Word Cloud are the ones that show up the most often in the news article, and contain the main ideas.
5.  We read closely, and found the large words from their word cloud in the news article.
6. They filled out a graphic organizer where they added the main words from the article.
7. They summarized the main ideas into short phrases, and wrote them on their graphic organizer.
8.  They used the "Drawing Pad" app to write their title of their movie, and saved to their camera roll. (Some just used the title feature in iMovie, or Animoto.)
9. They used the Drawing Pad app to create the phrases that tell the main ideas of the article.  (The ones we wrote on the graphic organizer.)  Only one idea went on each page.  (Some learned that the hard way).  Some classes I taught this in used Big Words rather than Drawing Pad.)
10. They searched Pics4learning and commons.wikimedia.org/wiki for weather pictures that would go along with the news article that we read, then saved them to the camera roll.  We needed at least 4 or 5 pictures.  

The next day they took all their media and made a short 30 second (or so) movie using iMovie (or Animoto).  This is what I told them should be in their movie and in this order:

1.  Title (could be over an image, or just a title made in Drawing Pad).  Most liked putting it over an image which looked GREAT!  

2. Their Word Cloud picture 

3.  A weather picture

4.  Powerful words phrase

5.  Picture

6.  Powerful words phrase

7.  Picture

8.  Powerful words phrase

9.  Picture

10. The Word Cloud (same as before)

They learned how to add music from the theme music found in iMovie, and made sure the music matched the type of news article that they reported on.

Here is a student sample from the very first time trying out this process.

Next Steps:
Create a rubric for future Newsela movies.  

Decide how you want to assign the different types of news articles for the next one they do.  Will they choose, or will you assign?  It would be great if they all did different ones (or partner up) so they could become the expert, then share their knowledge with the rest of the class.

I think a poster would help so the class can remember the steps to take when they do this again.

Have you used Newsela?  What other sources do you use to give students access to information text? 

1 comment:

  1. I just found Newsela the other day and haven't tried it out yet with students. This is a great idea. Wonderful job.