5 Activities to Keep Students Engaged

The time leading up to a break creates excitement amongst both students and teachers. Make the most of the pre-vacation school days and try one of these engaging activities to get students using Newsela and thinking critically.

Why should I use these activities?

  • Use these activities as a way for students to engage with high interest articles that you may not have had time to read.
  • Try out a project that will allow for cooperative learning and creative thinking.
  • Wrap up a unit with a project to solidify understanding before an extended break.

Try one of these activities:

   

Activity 1

Title:

Creating a crossword

Article:

Scientists try to find a way for people to live longer

 Activity:

Essential Question: Do the lifestyle choices that we make matter?

Divide students up into an even number of groups. In each group, have students select at least two articles from the Text Set: Tobacco and Smoking. As a group students should answer the essential question with a yes or no, using their knowledge of everything they have read. Depending on their stance, they should list at least ten facts,that support their point of view from at least 2 different articles.

Students will use these facts to create clues for a crossword puzzle. For younger students you may want to demonstrate examples of clues. For example:

  • Clues can be straightforward: What month are we in?
  • Clues can be fill in the blank such as Vegetables and ____ are healthy food.

They can do this online, then save as a PDF and print it out to share with their peers. In groups they should trade crossword puzzles. Using the clues, each group should solve another’s puzzle and determine that group’s stance on the essential question. Crossword puzzles can be displayed in the classroom.

As an alternative to using the online crossword puzzle maker students can make their crossword on paper. Using printable grid paper can serve as a template for students to organize their puzzles.

   

Activity 2

Title:

Why is studying twins useful?

Article:

Twin astronauts help NASA with study

 Activity:

Have students read this article about twin astronauts. For more background knowledge, have them also read this article about how Nasa selects crews or this article about studying microscopic life in space.

Ask students to think about these guiding questions while reading the articles:

  • What else could we learn about living in space by studying twins?

  • What makes me curious about living in space?

  • If I were going to propose a twin astronaut study to NASA, what would it be about?

In small groups, have students discuss their research ideas for twin astronaut studies. Have students pick one research question to propose to NASA.

Have students make a proposal poster to present to the NASA committee. This poster should include:

  • Their research question

  • Evidence from the text that supports their reasons for conducting this study

  • The steps that they will need to take to complete their study

  • How the results from their study would be useful

Students present their twin astronaut study proposals to a NASA committee made up of other students in the class. After all the presentations, the students can vote for which study should receive funding.

  

Activity 3

Title:

Create an emoji mural

Article:

Museum puts original emojis - small, simple electronic images - on display

 Activity:

Paired text: Hijab emoji

Pair this article with this one about a new hijab emoji. Use this as a starting point for an activity on creating an emoji mural.

Article instructions: Introduce the teen hopes to help diversify emojis article. Have students start thinking about the following questions:

  • What other groups of people or events are not represented in emoji form?
  • How can we include their identity in emoji form?

Read: Students will then read both articles. They should highlight and annotate reasons that support the creation of new and inclusive emojis.

Project: Students will then create a proposal for a new emoji. They should create a paragraph explaining why the emoji should be created and the significance of it. They should also crete a sketch of the emoji. This can be drawn by hand or using an online drawing tool.

Have students arrange their proposed emojis in a mural. They can either attach the summary to the drawing or present the summaries to the class.

  

Activity 4

Title:

Creating a robot: science project

Article:

A new friend: The talking robot Kirobo

 Activity:

Student Product: In order to inform a student project where students will devise an idea for a helpful robot, students will read articles in the science robots Text Set to build background knowledge on students making a difference. They will create a script for their viral sensation video and write the problem it's trying to solve.

Student Project: Have students create a robot that can help solve a problem that is affecting many people. Within your project, identify the following:

  • What problem you are trying to solve?
  • How will the robot solve this problem?
  • Describe what will the robot look like

Present: In groups, students will present their robot idea in the form of an oral report. They should also have a visual representation to support their presentation. While students are presenting the audience should be prepared to ask questions.

  

Activity 5

Title:

Student created viral videos 

Article:

New ALS discovery, thanks to "Ice Bucket Challenge"

 Activity:

Paired Text Set: Kids Making Big Impacts

Student Product: In order to inform a student project where students will create the next viral sensation that will help spark change, students will read articles in this Text Set to build background knowledge on students making a difference. They will create a script for their viral sensation video and write the problem it's trying to solve.

Questions: The teacher can select from these questions and add their own to guide students’ exploration:

  • How do things go viral?
  • What are some examples of viral videos that have changed lives?
  • How can people of any age make a difference in society?

Student Project: Create your own viral video to solve a current problem in the world. Within your project, identify the following:

  • What problem you are trying to solve?
  • A script for the video.
  • How do you think the public will react to your invention?

Present: I groups, students will present their videos. While students are presenting the audience should be prepared to ask questions.

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