5 easy ways to improve reading engagement with BrainPOP and Newsela

 
5 easy ways to improve reading engagement with BrainPOP and Newsela

On most BrainPOP topic pages you'll find a 'Newsela' button.

But why is its addition to BrainPOP a bit of a game changer for your literacy instruction?

Wait. What's Newsela?

Newslea is a popular literacy platform that provides engaging, high-quality, nonfiction news articles adaptable to students’ reading levels.

Newsela Logo.png

We partnered with them to integrate their content alongside ours.

Here's an example of our Digitial Etiquette topic page, showing the the button that you would click to open the relevant Newslea article.

It will take you to a Los Angeles Times article called "Why emojis are a no-brainer for digital communication".

Take a look on the top bar. You see a drop down menu that allows you to dynamically change the text, by lexile level, to suit the child or class.

This means your students read and discuss the same content, while enabling individual students to access material at their specific reading level.

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Here's some ways you can use our Newsela integration to improve your children's engagement with non-fiction texts.

1. Highlights and annotations

Select a word or sentence and the annotation tool pops up on the right hand side. Use this to highlight unfamiliar vocabulary, signal specific text structures like compare/contrast, and provide questions and prompts for discussion.

Annotation in Newsela

2. Multiple read-throughs

On a student's first read through focus on vocabulary and identify the purpose of the article.

On second read through Introduce a question and have students work with a partner to read again, annotating text that relates to the question as they read.

On third read have students individually look for additional evidence, perhaps providing writing prompts like:

  • According to the article . . .

  • The author bases this claim on . . .

  • The conclusion that can be drawn from the article is . . .

3. Use Newsela opinion articles to facilitate a debate in your class

Divide students into two groups and assign each group a side to debate.

Remind students to use facts from the article to support their arguments and encourage them to conduct further research as needed.

Prompt a class discussion after the debate.

4. Small Group Guided Reading

  1. Gather a group of students who read at a same/similar reading level and briefly introduce the Newsela article, including the content of the text and some of the structural and vocabulary challenges.

  2. Then have students read the text independently as you circulate, supporting individual students as needed.

  3. Finally, bring the group back together to share common understandings and identify reading strategies they used.

5. Hone those listening and syntax skills

Read aloud a Newsela article to the class or small group to model engagement, fluency, and pausing for deeper comprehension. Demonstrate thinking aloud and engage students in prompted partner or whole class discussion. Hearing text read fluently is important for developing a sense for syntax, and for honing listening skills.

 

Exploring opportunities to promote literacy using BrainPOP and BrainPOP Jr.

 

Engaging students with literacy across curriculum subjects is a priority for all schools, and Ofsted. BrainPOP provides multiple possibilities to improve literacy knowledge using animated movies, concept mapping, interactive features, multimedia resources, and more.

Ofsted seek to see literacy being emphasised outside of an English lesson, across curriculum subjects. Effectively, literacy learning should have a place in all lessons.


During inspections, Ofsted will place a stronger emphasis on effective whole-school literacy policies and their successful and systematic implementation across the school.
— Literacy Guide for Secondary Schools, 2012-2013

In each BrainPOP and BrainPOP Jr. topic in each subject there are many moments, both explicit and implicit, to promote literacy in different subjects.

How can you use BrainPOP to address literacy in every subject?

SUBTITLES

  • Every movie shows subtitles as standard. Subtitles encourage reading even when the student doesn’t realise they’re doing it. This extra practice will help improve reading and spelling, punctuation, and grammar skills.

KEY VOCABULARY & NATURAL PAUSE POINTS

  • Key vocabulary is highlighted in each movie. Students can easily pick out and learn key terms.
  • In BrainPOP listen out for the beep! BrainPOP movies have natural pause points. When Moby beeps is usually a good moment to pause as this often indicates the beginning of a new section of information within the topic. This gives the teacher time to assess how well the class is taking in the information, answer any questions, or to allow for student to finish any note-taking.
  • In BrainPOP Jr. look out for the pause button turning red. This indicates a question is about to be displayed in Annie's notepad. Ask a pupil to read it out to the class.

KEY LITERACY SKILLS

  • Specific topics like Reading SkillsContext Clues, and Note-Taking Skills help students make their literacy skills useful in every kind of lesson. Improving student’s confidence in using skills such as these – regardless of subject – encourages them to use and practice them more across the curriculum.
    • Tim speaks at a gentle pace in BrainPOP movies, which helps student’s comprehension and also gives time for student’s note-taking.
  • Quizzes for reading comprehension and/or listening comprehension – whether students are taking the quiz individually on a computer or tablet or taking the quiz as a class they will need to read and/or listen to the quiz questions and answers in order to complete the task.
    • Students can also take turns reading the questions and answer options aloud to the rest of the class as extra speaking practice.
    • Teachers with 'My BrainPOP' accounts can make their own Quizzes using the Quiz Mixer.
    • BrainPOP Jr. has easy and hard quiz options. Not only are the questions different, the easy quiz language is simpler.
  • As a discussion tool – in BrainPOP use the Newsela tool as a class discussion stimulus about items in the news or national events. The articles are lexia levelled and the article can be dynamically adapted depending on the student's ability. It’s a great way to encourage children to not only investigate an issue themselves but to form their own opinion and confidently discuss it in class.

Spoken language – (6.2) Pupils should be taught to speak clearly and convey ideas confidently using Standard English. They should learn to justify ideas with reasons; ask questions to check understanding; develop vocabulary and build knowledge; negotiate; evaluate and build on the ideas of others; and select the appropriate register for effective communication. They should be taught to give well-structured descriptions and explanations and develop their understanding through speculating, hypothesising and exploring ideas. This will enable them to clarify their thinking as well as organise their ideas for writing.
— From the 2014 National curriculum in England: English programmes of study

ACTIVITIES

Activities are worksheets that are available for every BrainPOP UK topic regardless of subject. Activities can include:

  • Recall questions
  • Essay questions
  • Graphic organisers so students can easily organise their thoughts or create clear notes for revision material
  • Practical tasks such as building a rocket

Activities can be typed into and printed off filled in as typing practice or printed and used as handwriting practice.

VOCABULARY SHEETS

  • Vocabulary sheets list all the key terms used in the movie and students must explain each of the terms in their own words.
  • This provides key literacy practice, helps students memorise subject specific key terms, and helps teachers check student’s comprehension of the terms and concepts used in the topic
  • Can be printed and glued into exercise books as a spelling guide and a revision tool.

FYI (FOR YOUR INFORMATION)

FYIs provide extra non-fiction texts around the subject to encourage further reading and research by the student which provide extra reading practice. These can be particularly useful to raise literacy engagement with boys, whom research has shown react well to non-fiction texts.