Curating for your classroom with Newsela Text Sets
If you use informational text in the classroom, you may already know about Text Sets - loosely defined as collections of texts focused on a specific topic or theme. But did you know that when used strategically, Text Sets can be vehicles for transforming the classroom into a collaborative and representative space? It all comes down to having the right content for each learner.
Newsela Certified Educators are known for taking text sets a step further to curate and customize content for their unique classroom needs. Read on for their ideas on instructional strategies that leverage Newsela Text Sets to incorporate student choice, build background knowledge, and practice skills.
The Jigsaw strategy allows all readers to become experts on a text in a Newsela Text Set and then teach and learn from others in cooperative groups. With each student focusing on a different text, students can learn from one another and use their shared knowledge of the different texts to gain a deeper understanding of content. This strategy can be used to help students build background knowledge, dive deeper into the curriculum efficiently, and/or to discover a variety of contexts or perspectives on a topic. The jigsaw strategy engages all students and allows each member to play a valuable role in the group's learning experience.
Novel Study and Building Background Knowledge
Newsela has a vast library of Text Sets for many popular novels that teachers may use or edit for their selected novel (available via subscription), or teachers may choose to create their own. Students can keep track of the information that they learn from the articles and share what they learn with their classmates. As research shows, building background knowledge about a topic or theme before reading a novel has a significant positive impact on student engagement and comprehension of the novel.
If you’ve noticed a timely topic that you’d love to bring into the classroom, Newsela Text Sets can help. Whether it’s sports - from football to the Olympics - or current events ripe for debate, customizing your own Text Set can help your learners make real-world connections that help build both skills and content knowledge. Planning themes around text sets also helps build a culture of reading in the classroom by turning it into a social activity - one that feels lower stakes and sets the stage for organic discussions.
Class Text Set
Try flipping the script and having students do the curation through a class Text Set. Working with students to create class Text Sets on Newsela allows students to choose what they learn about while still focusing on the learning targets of the subject area and course. The element of choice introduces increases student engagement in the topic, as does the concept of peer recommendation. Having students take ownership of their learning is a goal of most educators, and this strategy encourages and supports that goal. For elementary students, having the teacher curate a collection of peer-suggested articles will limit the number of options available - which could get overwhelming - while still allowing for student choice.
Inspired to use one of these strategies? Read more at BetterLesson’s Newsela Learning Domain.