Learning Plans & Activities
Reading and Reacting Collaboratively to Nonfiction Text

In this lesson, students collaboratively read and react to a news story to understand its meaning and explore the perspectives of groups that are connected to the topic of the article.


Language Arts

Social Studies




Classroom teacher


Students will analyze published book reviews to determine their components.

Students will summarize and evaluate a book they have recently read by writing a book review


Copies of the article: "More Schools Are Giving in to Parents' Demands about Cellphones." Associated Press. In Newsela. (April 11, 2018). https://newsela.com/read/cell-phones-allowed-in-schools. (Requires free account.)

Quotes from the article, each on half-sheet pages

Highlighters, pencils, markers, or dry erase markers


One 45 minute session


AASL National School Library Standards

I.C.4. Sharing products with an authentic audience.

III.C.1. Soliciting and responding to feedback from others.

Common Core State Standards

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.5.1 Write opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons and information.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.5.4 Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development and organization are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.5.5 With guidance and support from peers and adults, develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach.

Instructional Procedure

Begin by giving individual students copies of the article, highlighters, and pencils. Group students in small groups of 3 to 4. Read the article out loud to the students, giving them the opportunity to read along as well as make annotations on their papers.

After reading, give groups up to five minutes to talk about the article, asking them to the look at the article from multiple viewpoints, including those of parents, students, school teachers, and school administrators. Circulate during discussion, listening for any misconceptions from the article or about the task.

Ask students to individually underline parts of the article that they feel are important to understand the perspectives presented. These parts may speak to a specific perspective or show information that a person from one perspective might emphasize. After students identify these parts of the article, ask them to highlight a limited number of them to share.

Using pre-selected quotes from the article, match as many quotes as possible with the passages most identified by students. If time permits, additional quotes may also be written. Hang quotes up around the library or classroom providing enough space so that students may spread out to approach the text in a gallery style interaction.

Tell students, "The parts of the article that you connected with are now up on the walls. We are going to take another opportunity to interact with these ideas." Students, in pairs, should do a gallery walk of the quotes. Try to pair students with others they have not worked with in the first part of the lesson.

Provide another lens in which to view the passages. "As you look at these quotes from the article, I want each of you to take on a different perspective. Earlier we used parents, students, school teachers, and school administrators. As you read these quotes from these lenses, talk with your partner about how a person from that perspective would react to that quote. You may not get to all of these, so feel free to choose ones that a person from your perspective may have a stronger reaction to either positively or negatively."

As students walk, react, and talk, monitor discussions. Students do not need to talk as if they were a person from that group but can discuss how a person from that group would react to the quote. After a few minutes ask students to also leave comments around these quotes related to the group they are viewing the text through. Comments can be left on sticky notes or written around the quote depending on whether the quotes are attached to walls, dry erase boards, or butcher block paper.

After several reactions have been added, add another layer by asking pairs of students to identify the group that is being represented in the reaction left by others. This can be done by using colored stickers or abbreviated group names next to the reaction around the quote.


Nonfiction text can come from any source. Other online sources, databases, or eBooks can be accessed that connect with content curriculum from a variety of subjects.

More options for choice can be achieved by offering different articles on the same topic or articles on related topics. To incorporate these into the lesson, the initial reading of the articles can be done as a small group. See the additional materials for examples that could be used with this article.

If using this Newsela article or a different one, each is available at multiple Lexile levels (found in the upper right corner of the article). Share different Lexile levels of the same article with students who will benefit from differentiated levels of reading. Be aware that you will need to be more flexible with taking students' highlighted quotes into the second part of the lesson.

Other lenses through which to read the articles can be used. Instead of reading the article through the lens of perspectives, students may read through a lens of emotional impact, technology advantages and disadvantages, or any other lens that an article lends itself to. Subsequent interactions with the text can be modified as well.

While this lesson focuses on language arts and social studies, a different nonfiction focus could lead to a lesson targeting understanding of perspectives in science or other subject areas.


Assess students' understanding of the article and perspectives with an exit slip asking them to identify one perspective, parents, students, school teachers, or school administrators, and give a brief reaction to the topic as a whole. Limit their sharing to two or three sentences. Tell students that you will be looking for evidence of understanding of the topic as well as the perspective that they are representing.

Additional Resources

"A Modern-Day Dilemma: At What Age Should Phones Be Allowed in School?" The Washington Post. In Newsela. (December 11, 2016.) https://newsela.com/read/cellphones-in-school/id/24803/.

Ho, Vivian. "Teenage Hangups: The Drastic Plans to Keep High Schoolers off Their Phones." The Guardian. In Newsela. (September 9, 2019.) https://newsela.com/read/keeping-teens-off-phones/id/56686/.

St. George, Donna. "How Young Is Too Young for Cellphones in School?" The Washington Post. In Newsela. (November 19, 2017.) https://newsela.com/read/elem-cellphones-in-school-debate/id/37754/.

About the Author

Tom Bober is a school librarian, 2018 Library Journal Mover and Shaker, former Teacher in Residence at the Library of Congress, and author of the book Elementary Educator's Guide to Primary Sources: Strategies for Teaching. He is a Digital Public Library of America Community Rep, a member of the Teachers Advisory Board for the National Portrait Gallery, and a co-chair of the Education Advisory Committee of the American Archive of Public Broadcasting. Tom writes about student learning on AASL's Knowledge Quest blog and publications such as School Library Connection and American Libraries and has given workshops and spoken across the country. His foundation is built on over twenty years in public education, with six years as an elementary classroom teacher, seven years as a building and district instructional technology specialist, and over eight years in school libraries. Find him at https://tombober.com/ and on Twitter @CaptainLibrary.

MLA Citation Bober, Tom. "Reading and Reacting Collaboratively to Nonfiction Text." School Library Connection, October 2010, schoollibraryconnection.com/Home/Display/2226857.

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Entry ID: 2226857

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