Every hand raised

Taking informed action with Newsela’s Cornerstone Activities collection

Julia Bromberg
Mar 10, 2020

I’ve always loved history. One of the reasons that I became a social studies teacher was to share that love with students. My focus in the classroom was to always bring history to life with my students. Now, as a social studies content producer at Newsela, the same mission guides my work here. On a day-to-day, my goal is to create content that is engaging, thoughtful, culturally responsive, and leaves students wanting to learn more. To me, in order for students to find a love of learning in social studies, it must be relevant to their lives and the world around them. 

To make social studies relevant to students and their lives, students need to be able to see important events as more than just ancient history - they need to be able to connect it to their understanding of the world. It’s incredibly valuable to provide students with different ways to demonstrate their understanding. Educators are all aware of the need to differentiate instruction, but it can be difficult to think of the ways to do this, while also lesson planning, grading, participating in extracurricular activities, and dealing with all the other facets of being an educator. 

Newsela’s Cornerstone Activities collection was designed with this challenge in mind. The collection connects historical texts, primary sources, current events, and even some fiction articles.  

In creating the Cornerstone Activities collection, we wanted to develop a collection that gives students the opportunity to take informed action on a variety of different topics. The articles selected expose students to diverse  viewpoints, while still providing the opportunity for them to have autonomy within the activities and select the articles that interest them. As a former teacher, I love this collection because it includes all of the essential information that I would have needed while planning instruction - all of the resources are in one place for the students, and the step-by-step instructions and pacing guide makes it easy to determine how much time should be allocated.

The Cornerstone Activities collection shows that any social studies topic can be made more meaningful for students when they are allowed to connect it to current events and consider history’s impact on their own lives and the lives of those around them. Activities include diverse tasks, such as writing essays and newspaper articles, creating social media profiles, holding mock trials, making multimedia presentations, and more. Take a look at the example below to see how the collection addresses different social studies courses and disciplines.

The Cornerstone Activities: Religion

The Cornerstone unit on Religion provides a selection of Cornerstone Activities that prompt students to explore different religions and cultures around the world. In the unit, students are asked to complete a variety of activities, from multimedia presentations and guidebooks to writing thoughtful analyses of complex topics. 

Comparing Judaism, Christianity, and Islam

In the article, Comparing Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, Lesson Sparks include an overview, assignment set-up, and pacing guide to help guide teachers. Students will learn about the special holidays and traditions celebrated in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, and pick additional articles of their choice. To demonstrate their understanding of the subject, students will select a holiday celebrated in a religion, and choose between creating an informational multimedia presentation, brochure, or social media event invite, explaining the history, traditions, foods, ceremonies, and other customs associated with the holiday that they chose to focus on.

The Latest from @Newsela

Newsela Certified Educators drive school-wide innovation, especially when it comes to distance learning. Build your expertise in designing creative teaching applications with our instructional content 👉 https://t.co/odmsKMCbxP https://t.co/QpXHZ1SFS5
June 1, 2020, 2:22 PM
Ever wonder how slime would behave in the microgravity of the ISS? 🛰 Nickelodeon sent around two liters of its green goop into orbit to create an educational virtual field trip for teachers to use in class. The experiments were, well... messy! 🤪 https://t.co/Ju8u4eb45d https://t.co/BdDz6AdFY1
June 1, 2020, 12:19 AM
Do your students enjoy discussing climate change? If so, here's some good news to share! 🌍 The University of California announced that it has fully divested from all fossil fuels, no longer earning money by investing in industries such as gas and oil 👉 https://t.co/LxnVLbNg1R https://t.co/jem6wWO40d
May 31, 2020, 10:45 PM
Newsela + @Peardeck are being responsive to the #COVID19 crisis. Subscribe to their Deck Decks for new ways to share updates with your students every week. https://t.co/WIJGZrA70c
May 31, 2020, 7:15 PM
Engage students with an interesting discussion about aliens! 👽 The odds of getting a message from life beyond Earth are not easy to figure out. Even the experts don't have a number. New technologies and more data, though, are making it more likely 👉 https://t.co/yfsI6rl92E https://t.co/tPdiBlKXW9
May 31, 2020, 5:33 PM
⚽️ Gooooaaaallllll: The Sports Reading Club! 📚 Help students continue to grow their love of reading from home. Newsela Reading Clubs let students read daily about a topic that interests and challenges them 👉 https://t.co/Wj8Tco7sTw https://t.co/kPNOdDCHjP
May 31, 2020, 3:58 PM
Planning for a successful start to the school year in September is on the minds of all educators. This Wednesday, our webinar on reopening schools can guide your #backtoschool plan, whether we return to virtual or face-to-face learning. RVSP to join us 👉 https://t.co/xSSrMIZCB8 https://t.co/ZsefDmHGAP
May 31, 2020, 1:42 PM
Here's a fun question to discuss with students: Who is the best basketball player of all time—Michael Jordan or LeBron James?? 🏀 🏆 The recent ESPN documentary "The Last Dance" about Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls has restarted the debate 👉 https://t.co/UcogVRjaD6 https://t.co/GsbG7Z1CPB
May 30, 2020, 11:00 PM
How do we close an unconventional school year and plan for the uncertainty ahead? We brought this question to Alice Montgomery (@aliceannmontgo), Senior Professional Learning Manager at Newsela and former 4th-grade educator. Read Alice's reflections 👉 https://t.co/CD0CXvvX0u https://t.co/KwrpqlyQ2v
May 30, 2020, 9:00 PM
On this day in history—May 30, 1421—Joan of Arc, a national heroine of France, was burned at the stake in the marketplace in Rouen, before a crowd of about 10,000 people. She was only 19 years old. Read her legacy 👉 https://t.co/BK6hDEyJtN https://t.co/UCYjJcTcG0
May 30, 2020, 7:00 PM
What will happen to the environment after the pandemic? Though the pandemic is less than six months old, there is already evidence that the way we are reacting to it is affecting the world's environment 👉 https://t.co/edQLrCKmkX https://t.co/WxTMHKf4X6
May 30, 2020, 4:00 PM
Looking to level up your Newsela knowledge? Become a Newsela Certified Educator and validate your skills with our online course 👉 https://t.co/cDSdvYZUVY
May 30, 2020, 3:44 PM
Your students might be familiar with popular Korean pop groups like BTS and BLACKPINK. Yet 60 years before this "K-pop invasion" globally, the Kim Sisters, a Korean girl group, rocketed to stardom in the United States. #APAHM Here's their story 👉 https://t.co/K1tRYAJjYf https://t.co/5xUrBKw79z
May 30, 2020, 1:01 PM
Have your students complained about being confined in their homes and neighborhoods? In Spain, kids weren't even allowed to leave their homes for 43 days to contain the coronavirus! Give students some extra perspective using this story 👉 https://t.co/05z9FLrqCa https://t.co/6AkY84zTD2
May 29, 2020, 11:59 PM
We are constantly being warned to wash our hands as often as possible, but some Americans don't trust their water is safe enough to do so. Learn the dangers of being without safe water and what Americans are doing about it 👉 https://t.co/vFDI8Y7FRX https://t.co/oUQrcTyJQz
May 29, 2020, 10:39 PM

The best lessons start with the best content.

Ready to bring great instructional content to your students?

Contact Sales