I’m in constant contact with teachers who use Newsela, in large part because I spend most of my day in the Newsela Community. There, teachers have the opportunity to tell us exactly what they need or would like to see, and we do our best work when we respond directly to those needs.
We took a look at how teachers in the Newsela Community use small group assignments in class and we’re excited to be providing the brand new ability to assign content to subsets or individual students.
There are so many ways to build lessons leveraging small group work. We rounded up a few of our favorite suggestions from the Newsela Community:
1. Differentiate learning to foster growth.
Every student has different learning needs. We love how Jeannine uses small groups in her classroom to focus on targeted skills and create extension groups to fit the diverse learning needs of her students.
2. Let students choose what interests them most, while still building and activating background knowledge.
“Let kids choose the article they want to read, that way you can put together a small group to work with others who are interested in the same subject, at their own levels.” Build content knowledge by allowing students to choose topics that interest them most. This idea from Sherrie also groups students together based on their interests, helping them stay engaged and drive collaboration.
3. Encourage student debate through small group research projects.
Tanya shares that her “best lessons are the ones that get kids up and moving around. One particular favorite was when groups of students ‘argued’ a point. Two small groups conducted research on either side of the argument. While they presented, the remainder of the class moved from side to side to show their agreement or disagreement.”
4. Drive inquiry and student-led learning.
Small group work can be a great way to jumpstart your lessons and get your students critically thinking about a topic. This lesson from Andrea starts with the essential question: “How does culture and experience shape perspective?” She has students read articles from a text set that encourages them to reflect on culture and identity and then gather in small groups to discuss the different experiences they read about. Check out the text set in Newsela here.
5. Foster a love of reading with individual assignments.
Lastly, don’t forget this new feature also allows you to assign to individual students as well. Drive independent reading and help students develop a love of learning by assigning work to individual students.
Check out a preview of the small group assignment feature below and if you’re new to Newsela, register for free here.