Tag Archives: Newsela

Summer Reading Suggestions

I have seen a lot of posts about Summer Reading programs for elementary students, and I’ve had a few questions from friends about what their kid should be/could be reading this summer.

One kid in particular is Sam, inquisitive, smart, and compassionate Sam.  Sam is a soon-to-be 2nd grader who is reading at a much higher Lexile level than his 1st grade classmates.

Teaching middle school, I was at a lost as to what to suggest to his mom.  It didn’t hit me until a few days ago after the tragedy in Orlando.  Newsela CEO, Matthew Gross, sent an email to subscribers explaining how Newsela would handle the story and how teachers (and parents) could deal with this tragedy.  As stated in the email, the Orlando “story will not appear in Newsela Elementary.”  (I was not aware of this feature.)

While Sam is not ready to read articles pertaining to the bad in the world, Newsela is full of things I know he would love to learn about.  Best of all, his mom can pick Lexile appropriate text to encourage and engage him in his summer reading.

Knowing Sam and his mom, I am able to easily choose a few articles that would be a great start for him:

Kids: Special cameras help scientists look at wild animals (430L)

Health: A boy gets a special new arm in the United States (430L)

Opinion: Sharks need our help to live (480L)

Money: New York looks for the best way to handle its famous horses (490L)

Sports: 17-year-old can do 7,306 pull-ups in 18 hours (480L)

Science: Eastern states prepare for six weeks of the cicada (580L) – Maybe a little high, but the fact these crazy insects have invaded our area should be encouraging enough.

I hope that reading articles like these will accomplish a few things:

  1. Encourage reluctant readers
  2. Improve informational text comprehension
  3. Provide opportunities for discovery and discussion
  4. Give Sam’s mom some peace of mind as she looks for appropriate texts for Sam’s summer reading challenge

Good luck Sam’s mom!! Hope this helps!

How do you encourage your elementary student to complete summer reading requirmements?

Is there a summer reading program at your library or within the school?

Do your kids read just for the sake of reading? (No prize involved?)




Week 4 Recap: Annotating, Subjects/Verbs, and I Wish My Teacher Knew….

So many great things are happening in my classroom, and I want to share them, but between golf and marching band, I can’t find the time.

I decided to try to highlight some things that happened in my room this week, and perhaps I will post a little recap each week. Never mind there is no Week 1, Week 2, or Week 3….. I’m officially starting with Week 4.


We have been working hard on annotating the short informational texts we are reading in class. These text selections from Newsela and Readworks  are building background knowledge for the novel we will be reading in October, Fish by L.S. Matthews.

By the end of Week 4,  my 8th graders came up with the following for our WE KNOW bulletin board.

We Know Annotating

The premise behind this bulletin board is where I want to post some really big concepts that can be applied to all parts of school, and beyond. I let them decide on the wording because I wanted them to “own it.”  Students copied the final wording in an Annotating Foldable.

We’ve been practicing annotations using a set of  symbols and following these rules:

1. Don’t go highlighter crazy!

2. If you highlight,  you must write!

Here is a link for the quiz I made:  Annotation Quiz  (The story I used for annotating is from Readworks. I just wanted to provide my students with a large margin.)  Readworks: Famous African Americans Muhammad Ali: The Greatest

Subjects and Verbs

My 7th grade is working on identifying subjects and verbs, while 8th grade is finding subject, simple predicate and complete predicate.  I continue to use Mentor Sentences to teach these concepts. Again, I used the reading from readworks.org to make short simple sentences for the 7th grade.

Subject Verb Mentor Sentences example


I used sentences from an article we read on Newsela for the 8th graders.


Subject Predicate Mentor Sentences


Before I forget, did you know that Kahoot! now has “Public Kahoots.”  Maybe they always have, but I didn’t know it until this week when I was getting ready to make my own subject/verb Kahoot.  What a relief when I found something that worked perfectly!!  My students had a lot of fun reviewing for their quiz with this particular Subject & Predicate Kahoot someone else made!!

I Wish My Teacher Knew

Obviously, you can guess what I had my students do.  I asked every student to write me a 6-8 sentence paragraph in their Writing Notebooks using that prompt: “I wish my teacher knew….”   My heart melted and ached as I read some of their responses. I did not expect to get such honest responses, and I learned so much about my students.  I spent the next two evenings writing a half to full-page response back to each of them.  It was a simple activity I recommended to all of my teacher friends.

So there are the highlights of Week 4. If there is anything you are specifically wanting to know more about, leave me a note in the comments.  Hopefully I’ll be able to post again at the end of Week 5!


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