Just about every Sunday during the school year, Kelly Gallagher posts an “Article of the Week” on his website because he is a wonderful angel. The article is always current and topical, allowing for student reflection and discussion.
Over the last five years, I’ve used Kelly Gallagher’s Articles of the Week in class on an inconsistent basis. Really, they had been Articles of the Month until this year, assigned on Mondays and due on Fridays, but never on a weekly basis. I’d also picked and chosen articles that would be interesting to students, rather than using the most recent.
One of the purposes of the Articles of the Week is to give students background information on topics they might not otherwise read about.
By picking and choosing articles from the archives, as well as assigning them on an irregular basis, I wasn’t really teaching students how to get through difficult, maybe-not-interesting nonfiction texts. I wasn’t really accomplishing the goal of establishing background knowledge.
So this year, I’ve assigned the Article of the Week each week. Instead of picking and choosing from the archives, I’ve been consistently assigning the most recent posted, regardless of its topic.
On Monday, students receive their article, a reflection page, and a rubric. They are required to annotate throughout the text to stay engaged and to inspire their reflections, which are required to be one-page, minimum. These are due on Fridays, and they can work on them at home, or in class on reading workshop days.
On Friday, we gather together as a whole class and discuss the article and their reflections. Our discussions can last anywhere from 20-60 minutes, and are so.much.fun. We talk about everything and anything, using the articles as a guide, but I also try my hardest to loop it back to class content. (I’m not always successful with this!)
With the recent Kavanaugh hearings, our articles have had a political lean these weeks. Before, this content may have scared me into the archives, but I just sucked it up and assigned the article anyway, making sure to keep my opinions to myself during discussions.
Even though they complained about “another political article,” they followed the news all week. Some students voluntarily watched the hearings, and came to class CHARGED UP and ready to discuss. They even asked for live updates during our class discussion.
This didn’t happen in the years prior. Thanks, Kelly, I love you.
Check out how these other teachers use Gallagher’s Articles of the Week!