I’m Sandy Cangelosi. I share my technology tips, ideas for project based learning, and resources for your classroom at Sweet Integrations. I’m now retired from many years of teaching at the middle school and elementary levels. As a former technology coordinator and instructor, I had opportunities to infuse project based learning into my curriculum as I taught technology skills. Project based learning (PBL) enables classroom teachers to partner with other teachers, the media specialist, and specials teachers. Through project based learning, students are totally engaged and they learn to problem-solve, think critically, and take ownership of their learning. PBL is also a wonderful opportunity to instill a collaborative classroom environment.
Providing Meaningful Resources during Project Based Learning
During the inquiry phase of project based learning, it can be difficult to find timely and accurate resources. As students dive into the project, they go in-depth, investigating to solve a real-world problem or challenge. One resource I highly recommend is Newsela. Newsela is a free, reading-leveled nonfiction and current events website and app. It provides students and teachers with high-interest, up-to-date news and articles with opportunities to write and take quizzes. Newsela can also be used as a motivating introduction to a global problem and give background knowledge.
I recently signed up for a webinar hosted by Newsela. They partnered with teachers and PBS to discuss media literacy in the classroom. The panel of educators shared best practices and new resources from their classrooms. Today’s students suffer from media overload and are not equipped with the necessary skills to differentiate between real and fake news. As students come in contact with different forms of media, Newsela provides different articles and activities to help students develop media literacy.
- Current Events – In my Save the Monarchs unit, students research reasons for the decline of the population. Newsela has an article on the decline of the Monarchs in 2014, but has an updated article in 2016 that informs readers about the increase of the population. Students can also learn current news of their interest.
- Differentiation – Students can select their reading level and read the same article as the rest of the class. With the pro version, teachers can customize questions and writing assignments. And, articles can be read in Spanish for your ESL students.
- Cross-curricular (topics) – Students can type their topic in the search menu or select nonfiction text sets for science, literature, social studies, and now black history.
- Free/Pro – Don’t feel like you need to purchase the pro version. There’s still so much you can do with the free app, especially for project based learning. Teachers can leave interactive notes in the paid version and students can respond back. Teachers can customize writing prompts and questions and receive feedback about their progress.