Newsela 101: 10 Words

Words matter. Word choice matters. In reading, writing, and speaking choosing the right word, or the wrong one, can easily change the meaning of what is being communicated. When we talk about word choice in class I have my students take a critical look at the words used in written pieces. Newsela is perfect for this because they can toggle back and forth between reading levels to see how the words change while the overall meaning remains the same.

When I was looking for an activity to further support word study I stumbled up the Ten Important Words activity from the Scholastic blog. I saw the value in the activity and have since adapted it to fit with our use of Newsela.


Students will self-identify the 10 most important words in an article and use the annotation tool to explain why they chose those words.


Using the annotation tool, student will select 10 words from the article they feel are most important for understanding the content. Once a word is highlighted, they will add a written annotation explaining why they chose that particular word. Many kids will highlight and annotate as they’re reading. Encourage kids to change their annotations as they narrow down their choices. They shouldn’t just use the first 10 words they find. To take it a step further, students can highlight all the words in an article they think are important in one color and, as they narrow it down to 10, could change those words to a second color to show the progression in their thinking. If students are struggling with identifying important words, have them start with the Power Words and annotate why they think those words were chosen to be Power Words.

Tips and Suggestions:

  • Model this by thinking aloud while you read through an article and identify the words you feel are most important and why.
  • Allow students to work in pairs or in groups and slowly transition to doing this on their own.


This activity was adapted from Bromley, Karen. “Vocabulary Activities .” Scholastic, 2018,


Newsela 101: 10 Words
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