I heard about Kelly Gallagher a few summers ago during the Eastern Illinois Writing Project Summer Institute; a few teachers swore by everything that he has ever written. And I believe Amber from Tuscola Middle School mentioned his Article of the Week. Intrigued, I went to Gallagher’s website: http://www.kellygallagher.org/resources/articles.html
Gallagher’s rationale for assigning an article of the week–to provide students with more informational texts (before CCSS) and to encourage students to become more aware of current events/topics–seemed logical and obvious. I incorporated it into the senior level English class I taught that fall. I selected an article each week trying to choose topics that they might not cover in the Current World Issues elective course. Students were expected to read, annotate, write a one-page (minimum 30 lines) response (not summary), and participate in a class discussion.
My students struggled with omitting or relying on a summary, and I found that I needed to teach them annotating skills. The nonfiction annotation skills lessons continue to be a work in progress. However, the weekly articles did provide the students with a wide variety of topics from which to draw for their researched argument papers, as well as our side topic of reading editorial cartoons. And I intend to incorporate the weekly article assignment with the dual credit literature class that I will teach next year.
This current spring semester, I have incorporated the use of an article each week, but rather than me choosing an article, my students have to research and choose an article to connect to each week’s literary reading. It has been a struggle for my students, mostly because I suggested, rather than required, that they read certain websites on a daily or weekly basis to keep up with current topics, and they have not chosen to do so. I even told them which websites could be followed via Twitter or would send them daily emails to appeal to their social media addictions (and to include BYOT). I don’t want to quiz them weekly on current topics, so next year I will model reading the various websites for the first couple weeks with the hope that they will continue on their own.
These are the websites that I have suggested that my students read and that I have used to find weekly articles: The Week Magazine “10 things you need to know today” (http://theweek.com/); Mental Floss–Random, Interesting, Amazing Facts (http://www.mentalfloss.com/).
These are websites that are more for teachers to utilize: The Learning Network (http://learning.blogs.nytimes.com/); NewsELA which provides timely articles that area available in four different Lexile levels and some articles include quizzes that can be taken using BYOT–all for FREE (http://www.newsela.com/); ThinkCERCA which is similar to NewsELA but with fewer article choices, but still FREE (http://thinkcerca.com/); The Responsibility Project from Liberty Mutual provides recent controversies involving teenagers that are great for starting a discussion or research (http://responsibility-project.libertymutual.com/)
I would love any additional suggestions!!