Last week, Richard Byrne of Free Technology for Teachers wrote about using Newsela and Google Docs for differentiated collaborative reading. The idea was so brilliant, yet simplistic, that I had to try it.
Newsela is a free collection of current event articles. It contains relevant, non-fiction writings starting at grade 3. One of the options I like about Newsela is the feature to adjust the same article for varying reading levels. Another nice feature is ‘Quiz’. The Quiz questions are aligned to CCSS – according to the grade the selection is set to.
So taking this idea and running with it, I decided to use Doctopus to make workflow that much easier. I found an article of interest – What moves these big rocks across the desert floor? Hint: It isn’t UFOs – set the reading level to 4th grade (next time I’ll adjust it to each student’s level), copied and pasted the article in a doc, grabbed a few of the questions – requiring students to locate evidence by highlighting the text, and ran Doctopus. Before we began, I reminded the students how to comment (to annotate the text), highlight text, and use the favorite ‘undo’ button. We used ‘undo’ a lot today! As I gave each student ‘editing’ rights on the document, several accidentally erased or moved text when trying to highlight.
The process was simple, and the outcome was #AwesomeSauce! Each question asked was highlighted in a particular color. For example, question 1 was highlighted in yellow. So question 1 evidence was highlighted in yellow in the text by the student. Question 2 was highlighted with a bright green. This was done so that I could ensure that the student could accurately match up the question with the evidence. And there is the added bonus that when I go to check their work, it’s super easy for me to find the evidence for each question. Makes checking a breeze.
The students were engaged, and actively reading! I loved this so much, I’m definitely going to do more of this.
Another great resource I plan to use is Dogo News. It too has relevant non-fiction text for students.