Newsela Noteworthy Educator Profiles: Deb Falcone


A typical lesson using Newsela looks like...
I use Newsela in a variety of ways with my class. Since my fourth grade students have personalized accounts and we are fortunate to have a 1:1 chromebook environment, I utilize Newsela at least three times a week for 20-30 min. of independent reading. In addition to taking the follow-up quizzes, my students also annotate and respond to a writing prompts. Although they are required to read from articles I assign them, they have many to choose from, and they enjoy having this freedom to read what they are interested in. Throughout the marking period, we also create word walls with newly acquired vocabulary from Newsela articles. When the word wall is filled, the students create Quizlets and play Quizlet-Live to assess their knowledge of the words.  
We also use Newsela for guided reading instruction. This year I've taken advantage of text sets in Newsela to practice various reading strategies. For example this year, we used the Text Structure text set to practice identifying how reading passages were organized. I projected the story and my students read along on their chromebooks. Together we highlighted evidence in the text to show compare-contrast, chronology, question-answer, and cause-effect organization. Newsela gives us the practice we need to find textual evidence to support comprehension questioning. We also have used Newsela in many writing lessons this year; writing narratives, argumentative, research simulation tasks, and essays from different points of view using anchored text. 
I also assign Newsela for independent projects. Each marking period my students use Newsela to complete a "Newsie". I describe my "Newsies" as an updated tech version of the book reports I used to assign. The "Newsies" vary, but most require thematic or comparative reading, new vocabulary acquisition, and graphic organizers. My students' "Newsies" are assigned using Google Classroom's stream, and directions and graphic organizers are all found online. Students' grades are based on annotations, writing prompts, and a google doc that contains tables and graphic organizers. My students LOVE to work on their "Newsies". It gives them reading choice and an incredible opportunity for additional research. My early finishers often follow-up and work on a research question that was triggered by one of the articles that they read and they will often create presentations for their classmates on the topic. 
Finally, I use Newsela during our enrichment period for character education, careers, biographies, and enviromental studies lessons. Students use news article and library information for research, follow-up presentations, writing, debates, and Did You Know Walls. 
One thing she wish she knew during her first year teaching...
Students learn best by doing... I did a lot of lecturing my first year, but soon realized the benefits of student engagement and hands-on learning.
Favorite teaching memory...
My favorite teaching memory was when my students received a set of chromebooks (twice!) from Donors Choose. This generous donation gave my class a 1:1 chromebook environment.
Her favorite thing to do outside of school...
Gardening, reading at the beach, visiting museums, and traveling.
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