Sunday, April 6, 2014

Educational Buzzwords...A: Article of the Week

So, I'm spending the month of April digging into the world of education. These are not just buzzwords, but they are educational concepts that have helped me perfect myself as a teacher.

I am coming a little late to the party, to be honest, I totally forgot about the A to Z Challenge and am hoping to get caught up this week.

So, on to my first letter.

A: Article of the Week

As you know, er, as many/some of you know I teach high school English. Over the years this job as been equal parts rewarding, inspiring, challenging, enlightening and a pain in know what.

One of the major challenges I've had is creating the perfect environment where kids want to read books. A book that helped me understand kids today and their struggle with reading was this little gem Readicide: How Schools Are Killing Reading and What You Can Do About It by Kelly Gallagher. At the time he was teaching in a print poor school and he realized that students didn't/don't even have the cultural literacy to want to be better at reading. He gives strategies for students to increase their background knowledge and their knowledge of the world around them.

A major strategy and paradigm shift in my classroom been incorporating the Article of the Week (AoW) into my class.

His strategy is simple and can be found here.

Dave Stuart Jr., a blogging/teacher friend of mine, goes even more in-depth and breaks it down on his website and that can be found here.

Both of these sites give a list of articles to use and both have formats that can be easily adapted to what you are doing with AoWs in your classroom with your situation.

Here's how this strategy functions in my classroom:

1] I introduce the AoW with a whole class discussion using a Veronica Roth blog post called "Likeable Schmikable". That blog post, written pre-Divergent (and pre that disaster Allegiant), is about whether you have to like characters to like a book and the kids always have opinions about it.
2]Once we start, first semester we do an article every week. Each is current, some are news, some are features all have to do with what is happening in the world around us.
3] Over the course of time we've added several different concepts to our articles based on what we know kids are deficient in, we do the usual by addressing audience and purpose and marking up the text, but we've added a section for text features, a holistic way at looking at the 20 point score, and when Dave Stuart added a section for argumentation using the book (They Say, I Say), we added that template as well.
4] I also like Dave's breakdown of the article. Pass it out, read it, argue about it in class (you could have a class debate or Think/Pair/Share is a quick way to get this done) and then it's due the same day a new one is introduced.

As a PLC, we do about 10 articles in the Fall and 5 in the Spring. We're not up to that ideal 35-40 a year and personally I'm not up to 20 a year, but I'm getting there.

What do you think? What are some ways you've used AoW?

Finally, if you are interested in any articles we've done this year, or want to see our template, it's an MSDoc and I would love to send it or the articles to you via my email:

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