Project Based Learning in High School English

Last May, I wrote a post on 5 ways that Newsela can support PBL, in preparation for a co-hosted webinar on differentiating instruction in Project-based Learning. Participants shared great feedback from this post and the related webinar, in addition to a request to learn more about Project Based Learning in high school English~ so this post is for YOU! Below you will find three MORE ways in which Newsela can help lighten your load in PBL…that’s right, 3 FRESH ways that Newswela can save you time and energy when implementing your next English project…and who doesn’t want more of that?!  

Embedding Basic skills in projects 

Regardless of the content area or grade level, a major concern of most teachers is: “how do I teach essential skills within a project?”. An important skill that students need to learn, not only for English classes, but for life, is how to be an active reader. This skill is especially important in PBL because students are expected to do a great deal of independent reading and research for project work. Typically, the first few benchmarks in a project are dedicated to gaining background knowledge that will be applied later in the project; students attain this background content through reading, amongst several other potential sources: video, field work, guest speaker, etc. Newsela can help explicitly teach and embed active reading skills in project work through the Annotations feature.  Check out This lesson on annotations to help students become active readers for assigned project research.

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Compare/Contrast Final products 

Compare and Contrast is such an important skill, and comes in handy as a context for almost any ELA project: Students can compare characters, settings, novel themes, or perhaps even pair up with a social studies colleague and have students do a comparison across time periods or geographic regions related to content from your ELA class . Check out This lesson or PRO/CON Text Sets from Newsela to help set your next comparison project up for success! These newsela tools work wonders with a final product like 2 voice poetry. Read more on how to do 2 voice poetry on my blog HERE:

Managing big caseloads of project work: Embedded Differentiation and assessment  

As a secondary ELA teacher, chances are you have an unbearable case load of students and trying to engage each of them in PBL is challenging…I mean how are you supposed to design, scaffold, and assess project work for 150 students (at least in a way that’s meaningful)?! I address these exact concerns in a Q &A in my recently published PBL book for secondary teachers-check it out today! So here is my PBL pro tip: Newsela can help lighten your load a bit by helping you assess students’ reading level and provide text at their level. The next time you are looking for project resources to assign your class, you can now save time because Newsleal will provide these resources at each student’s lexile level. Not only that, but it also has embedded reading assessments so you can assess reading comprehension while students are also completing project reading that’s a two-for-one! 

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You have so much on your plate as a teacher, no need to pile more on that plate! Let Newsela be a resource that can help you implement your next project, by embedding content and skills that you are required to teach so that PBL doesn’t have to feel like it’s “in addition to”!