Helping Students Read and Understand Using Text Sets
Newsela finds news stories that help students learn about their world, and build their reading skills. These stories involve issues and big ideas taking place in society. It isn’t just one stand-alone news story, but often the story is connected to a larger set of issues. For example, Newsela published a story on a program in North Carolina that brings together police officers to talk with members of the community. This program was related to events happening across the country: The shooting of a young black man by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, the subsequent unrest in the city, questions of police injustice, and reflections on the state of civil rights in America. Newsela wants our readers to understand our news stories in connection to the larger picture. That’s why we’ve introduced Text Sets.
What are Text Sets?
Text Sets are a collection of stories that have a shared topic, theme, or big idea. Oftentimes, instruction focuses on understanding single texts in isolation. Our Text Sets offer multiple sources of information that enable readers to gain a broad perspective and to deepen their understanding of a topic. Some teachers (Tovani 2004, Do I Really Have to Teach Reading?) have shared their experience supplementing required reading with other content to help their students become better readers.
The stories in Newsela’s “Stories On Ferguson” Text Set demonstrate that there are multiple facets of an issue, from articles exploring the racial problems in Ferguson to articles examining whether police body cameras may address the problem. According to Nichols (2009) in Expanding Comprehension with Multigenre Text Sets, “text sets are a tool for creating what we hope will be a lifelong habit of mind.” Our Text Sets and PRO/CON articles show students that there are “different ‘truths’ and thus emphasize the importance of questioning dominant interpretations” (Annenberg Learner). At Newsela, we want to help develop strong reading skills, as well as critical thinking abilities.
How do I use Text Sets?
Newsela has built a Text Set library on topics as varied as “Immigration In America” and “Climate Chaos” and “Dinosaurs Rule.” In our collection of stories, students are not merely reading more of the same text, but rather discovering that “what they have learned opens a door to another source, which leads to another” (School Library Journal).
Our new Text Set feature allows teachers and students to build their own Text Sets. Stories can be mixed and matched in any grouping that makes sense to the Newsela reader. Build your own Text Sets and share them with friends. You can also view some of Newsela’s own Text Sets to jump-start your ideas.