Friday, November 17, 2017

Integrate NEWSELA into Keys to Literacy
Grade 6

NEWSELA is an online resource of articles that allows you to set different lexiles for students, depending on their reading level. As a special education teacher, this allows me to assign articles to specific students that need a modified level, while still maintaining the same content as their peers. General education teachers can also modify to a higher or lower level as needed based on the student and the complexity of the article. NEWSELA comes with pre-created multiple choice questions, an open response question, and an option to adapt the question to your specifications.  It is also easy to use some of our Keys to Literacy strategies to complement the features of NEWSELA.

For example, here is one example of a lesson plan for a social studies class. In small groups, you can assign students to different lexile lessons. Then, they are assigned articles specific to their reading level. They can use an article on physical features of South America to fill out a map, which would include a key to interpret symbols. Once they have completed this, they can use this information to write a summary of the article. They can also use it to do two column notes, top down webs, Bloom’s and/or write a summary.

Example of lesson below:

  • Students are grouped by lexile groups and read the article together on physical features in South America.
  • Students are searching for the following information:
    • Name of feature
    • Location of feature using context clues.  
    • EX: “It extends from the Isthmus of Panama  in the north to the archipelago of Tierra del Fuego in the south.”
  • Then they add that physical feature to their blank map of South America using the map key provided.  (/\ for mountains)
  • Next, as a class, students list all physical features and categorize them into land and water forms.
  • From there, students fill in their Top Down Webs.
  • In the future...
    • Summary writing template.
    • Summary
    • Bloom’s Question Generator
  • What next?
    • As an extension of this activity, students could come up with questions (under the guidance of the teacher and Bloom’s Taxonomy) regarding this topic. They could use sentence starters to help frame their questions. For example, how do mountains affect the population settlement of an area? Why are cities along coastlines more populated? Why are some jobs more prevalent in certain areas with particular physical features (for example, agriculture in plains or river valleys)?
    • Another extension could be using the information gathered to come up with the main ideas of this unit. For example, physical features affect South America’s climate, job sectors, population and economic activity. Using the information gathered from the top down web, the questioning activity, and the summary, students would connect the idea of physical features to the overall development and status of the countries in South America.

Carrie Fortunato

I was a guest teacher in a Fourth grade room at Pine Glen.  The students had been using the 2-column notes from KTL but the teacher did not feel comfortable with the Top-Down-Topic Web, so I was charged with introducing Top Down Topic Webs (TDTW) to her class.  Because the students were new to TDTW, I started with an everyday example of a TDTW by showing my weekly schedule.  

Students talked to their partners about observations and structure of the web.  The students quickly saw the shape structure of headings, subheadings, and details.  They also noticed the ease in which to read the web and organize information.

Since the students were working on Multiplication Strategies and Properties and were near the end of the topic, I thought it would be a good time to review some of the concepts by doing a Top Down Topic Web on Multiplication Properties and Strategies.

This is my third version of this TDTW:)  
KTL says, “The person creating the web is the one doing the thinking and the work!” Well, I did A LOT of thinking and work to create this one!

Once the web was created, I used it as my answer key to help create the sorting cards.  I created cards that were organized by heading, subheadings, and details by color and shape.  I talked to the students that some cards might fit in more than 1 category and that the most important thing is that you have a reason why you placed the card where you did.  The students were paired up and sent off to find a place to sort the cards.

And then something amazing happened, the students started talking about multiplication properties and strategies!  They were engaged and listening to one another reason and problem solve how to organize the web.  They were sharing their ideas and experiences about multiplication strategies and properties.   Not all of them were correct, but I could easily see and hear, without giving an assessment, what each student’s understanding is about multiplication strategies and properties.

I was beyond excited!  In fact I was so excited that when I left the room I told everyone in the hallway about the amazing experience I had just had.  I want to have more experiences like this.  I feel that this really helped students grapple with some complex conceptual ideas in a non-threatening environment which is not alway the case in Mathematics, YET!