Using Newsela’s Text Sets In Your Science Classroom

Teachers across the country are asking, “How can I address the Common Core Learning Standards (CCLS) when I have a full year worth of science standards to teach?” Some science teachers even feel that including literacy instruction means giving up their science focus. Newsela’s new text sets, which address disciplinary core ideas from the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), show that literacy and science instruction do not have to be at odds.

Newsela is a powerful tool for science teachers. Students can choose which articles they want to read from a list of articles covering each science standard. Every article on Newsela also comes with five different reading levels, so struggling and advanced readers can use texts written just for them. To make literacy instruction easy, every article includes a CCLS aligned quiz, which helps teachers track their students’ reading progress and understanding.

One Standard, Many Ways To Teach It

Newsela’s text sets for science come with diverse sets of articles, helping science teachers thoroughly explain each standard and find crosscutting ideas. Take, for example,  ESS3.C Human Impacts On Earth Systems. The standard is simple enough: responsible management of resources or development of new technologies will help sustain the Earth systems and the natural resources key to our survival. The easiest solution might have been for students to look at the problem from just one angle.

For instance, how does drought influence agriculture and what can we do to mitigate the problem? How is air pollution influencing human health and what can we do about it? But what about invasive species, ocean acidification, or the dangers of industrial or chemical runoff? Newsela’s text sets allow teachers to address the many aspects of these topics at once, helping students develop a multidimensional understanding of the standard.

The ESS3.C text set includes more than 50 articles that address the standard in some way. The breadth of topics found offer an opportunity to meet CCLS standards while also teaching science topics that cannot be fully covered in a simple lab or lecture.

Make Science + Literacy = Success In The Classroom

Here are some tips for using text sets for science to address science standards and CCLS information text standards at the same time:

  • Finding Evidence: Ask students to find evidence for a standards aligned statement or question. (e.g. How can human activity influence Earth’s systems?) Students can use Newsela’s annotation system to find the evidence or record it in a document. They can share evidence and use it to write an essay, create a slideshow, or a write a letter to a community or political leader.
  • Summarizing: Ask students to write a short summary (no more than 30 words) of an article in the context of the appropriate science standard.
  • Analyzing connections and interactions: Have students make a diagram, flow chart, or graph showing the interaction between the systems in the article. Have them write a title and caption for their diagram. Use the diagrams for a gallery walk with your students.
  • Get Creative: Have your class create a class book or field guide. Students could also design and perform their own experiments based on articles they read on Newsela. They might also write and perform a skit, song, poem or presentation on one of the science standards or concepts.

Lastly, Newsela’s science articles give students a glimpse into how the lessons they learn in class might apply to the real world. If a student is particularly inspired by an article about NASA being underfunded, or by a piece of misinformation being spread among the science community, ask them to write to their local member of Congress or write an opinion piece of their own.

If you enjoyed this post or use Newsela in your science classroom, you might try making text sets of your own. Let us know how you create a symbiotic relationship between science and literacy by tweeting @Newsela.

Gregry Livingston is an Earth science and computer science teacher.  He is also an education writer and program developer who has designed and implemented innovative programming for Galileo Learning, the New York Expanded Success Initiative, and other education organizations.  Gregry is a regular assessment contributor for Newsela.com.  He has degrees from Columbia University and Brooklyn College.