Newsela 101: Reading Organizer

Hey everyone! Wanted to share a quick and easy organizer that I created to go along with any Newsela article.

“Ugh we have to do a worksheet with this reading???”

Who hasn’t heard this come from a student when asking them to read in class. When students moan and groan about a busy-body worksheet to go with reading when it’s simply being used as compliance and turned in after reading, I completely agree with them!. This style of reading and answering questions is important for comprehension, but why does it simply have to be about compliance? All this does is promote passive reading.

We want our students to engage in reading and own what they read. This particular organizer is designed to be non-threatening and it’s also not meant to be a stand alone activity. Instead of acting as a worksheet that students simply fill out and turn in, this organizer is a student’s ticket to another activity. Eventually, I would like to take this organizer away and have students create their own means of organizing information. However, I have to provide structure and organization before I set them loose. Some students may not need it and that is fine. If students have a different way of organizing information that makes sense to them, who am I to tell them it won’t work?

For students who need structure, this is a quick and easy organizer they can fill out before they move on to the next activity. (Oh, and since Newsela levels texts to meet their reading needs you know everyone can access the same content) Once again though, this is not intended to be a stand-alone activity. Have students use this as their passage to a classroom discussion (like this post on Speed Dating). Students aren’t filling this out as a punishment, but instead to interact with the material so they can critically engage in the following activity. The follow-up activity is so important if we want to create engaged readers. If it is just the organizer we are, once again, promoting passive learning!

I included an image box on the organizer for a few reasons. I challenge my students to create visual mental anchors when they are reading that they can easily remember when recalling the article. There are all sorts of studies out there that show the importance of visuals and reading, but I will let you explore those on your own. I also have them create a visual because I want to see what they pulled from the article and what was important to them. Taking information and recreating it into their own visual takes a high level of thinking. Students not only have to interpret and comprehend an article, but now they have to recreate it in a creative and meaningful way.  

My personal goal with the organizer is to slowly ease my students towards sketchnoting! For now, this is pretty much sketchnoting with training wheels. I plan on revisiting this post once I eventually take away this organizer and we move more into sketchnoting. Fingers crossed! If you end up using it I would love to hear from you and see how it went in your classroom.

Click here for a copy of the graphic organizer. 


Newsela 101: Reading Organizer
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