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Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Article of the Week


So, are you itching for winter break to get here or what?!? I am drowning here, people! Between report cards, conferences (for my students and my own kids!), shopping, baking, parties, wrapping... DROWNING!

Don't get me wrong, I love this time of year... but, seriously?! Such a crazy time! I don't know how my parents pulled it off every year.

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Anyway, today I want to do a shout-out to some of the best teachers that I've NEVER met: the fine, fine folks at Vale Middle School who put together these fabulous Articles of the Week and post them FOR FREE on their website for teachers everywhere to use.

If you are not familiar with Articles of the Week (AoW), they are a great way to get students reading and interacting with lots of interesting and current informational texts. Kelly Gallagher (swoon!!) is a huge proponent of them and writes often of their use in his classroom.

When I decided that I was going to scrap all other forms of homework and focus solely on AoWs, I turned to my besty, Google, to look for a place for great, kid-friendly articles, and lo and behold, I stumbled upon Vale's collection.

Guys, seriously?! I can't even explain what a time-saver this site has been. Not only are these teachers scouring the net for great reads, but they also include scaffolded questions for each article based on the CCSS. So, basically, all you need to do is hit print, copy these babies, and send them home for homework!! AND... they are also editable, so you can modify any article/questions to fit your students' needs.

I've been giving an AoW each week since September. It is the only homework that I assign. I can't say my students love them, but, they've gotten sort of amazing at close reading and analyzing them. And what's more, they are learning so much about the world!

Vale has a huge collection of these AoWs. My favorite ones are those that also include a little video to go along with the article... it makes the whole experience like a mini-RST (if you are not a PARCC state, RST stands for Research Simulated Task).

Vale also provides a rubric and a sample piece students can use as a model (I sent a copy of this home with each student in the beginning of the year so they knew exactly what was expected of them each week). Additionally, they provide a blank template so that you can create your own AoW using the same format.

I have become a giant fan of the AoW... I actually can't imagine going back to more traditional homework. So, folks at Vale Middle School, from the bottom of my heart, THANK YOU!! You are amazing! Keep up the great work!

Ever try using the Article of the Week in your classroom? Think you might give it a try? I'd love to hear from you!!

Happy Teaching!!

(And Happy Holidays! This might be my last post until the new year because, you know, drowning and everything!! Thanks for reading, and I'll see you bright and early in 2016!!) 

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UPDATED: Here is a copy of the simplified rubric that I use to grade the AoW. You can right-click to print :)




62 comments:

  1. I am a huge fan of them as well. I used them every other week last year and saw huge growth in close reading and responding to text with evidence. I would choose the articles that my students would enjoy the most. If there wasn't a video clip, I would look to see if I could find a short one to connext to. However, my principal didn't like the amount of copies needed to do these, so this year I am doing one a month

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    1. Too many copies, huh? Always something!! Thanks so much for sharing!

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    2. Just a thought... do your students use Google Classroom? You could post the articles on there, and have students respond that way. It's one way to go "paperless".

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    3. Good suggestion! Google Classroom is getting better and better each day. Great alternative to paper :)

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    4. I was thinking the same thing. I currently use Google Classroom to post articles for students to read but you need to make sure they can't manipulate the text, by making any changes.

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    5. You can also have them open the article in Kami (a Google App), and have them annotate the article and submit it digitally. :)

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    6. There is also an amazing website called Formative. As long as the text is in a pdf format, you can upload it to formative, link it to your google classroom and no more paper! One of the most amazing parts of formative is that you can I bed videos and places for them to stop and note their thinking right there on the site. It is sent directly to you and you can see their thinking as they submit.

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    7. What is the website for Formative?

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  2. I use these articles in my Close Reading PD workshops. I love-love-love them.
    Kudos, Jenna, for giving a shout-out to Vale Middle School!

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    1. Yay for Vale!! Thanks for sharing, Janice :)

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  3. I am going to try these for 2nd Semester in my classroom.

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  4. Quick question - Do you frequently have students who routinely don't complete homework? How accountable do you hold them? Do you give them a grace period for getting it turned in? I'm thinking of the students in my one ELA block, and some of them just do not do the assigned homework that I've already given this year. Any suggestions or experiences you've had?

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    1. Hi Kelly! So, I'm not a huge advocate for homework. My thinking is that kids work so hard in school during the day (much harder than I EVER worked!! Such was life before Common Core, testing, etc.), so night time should be for recreation and play (even for big kids!!). Anyway, this is the only homework that I give. There are always a few kids who don't turn it in on Friday, but I will always take it late. If it happens frequently, then I usually call home. Once I call home, that usually turns things around... especially after parents see just how little homework I give!

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    2. You assign it on Monday and it's due on Friday? Do you go over it at all in class? Cold read it in class? Watch video in class? We found if we included a video they did their writing reflection on the video only.

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    3. Hi Julie,

      We don't do any of this in class. The kids are on their own, although I do stay for homework club every Wednesday and the kids are welcome to come and get help with their article if need be. After they are graded, I go over the best answers that I got to each question. So far, I haven't had kids just write about the video, but we are a PARCC state, so we've been doing Research Simulated Tasks that include videos for a while now and the kids are pretty good with them. Thanks for reading!!

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  5. I love the Vale Middle School and keep it bookmarked on my computer. For the homework issue I switched over to choice menus. The kids love having control over what homework they do and what their final grade will be. I assign the menu on Mondays and it's due on Fridays. When I switched to this, I had a lot fewer missing assignments. I continue to use the article of the week for Socratic Seminar. Another good website for articles is newsela.com They have a ton of news article searchable by genre (I like to search the theme of whatever we are reading and use the article to pair with the fiction). They also offer different reading levels for each article making it a GREAT way to differentiate.

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    1. Newsela is my FAVORITE!! I do a reading minute every day to start class and they usually come from that site :)

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    2. You just read something interesting to the kids for one minute at the start of class... usually nonfiction (though sometimes a poem). Just a nice little intro to class... it's an idea from Kelly Gallagher :)

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  6. I am curious about the YOUNGEST grade-level you would use the AoWs...?Do you know of any websites that provide articles appropriate for the intermediate grade levels? Thanks so much and I just LOVE this idea!

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    1. Hi Melissa... so I probably wouldn't use the Vale articles with kids younger than grade 6, but... if you go to the site newsela.com, you can get great articles and they are leveled! You can definitely use them for younger students :)

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    2. Melissa you could try ReadWorks.com. There are articles you can find for elementary and they give a lexile level along with a skill the reading covers.

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    3. Youngzine.com is also a great site for intermediate readers. They always have embedded videos and maps of the location.

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    4. You might also find some on READWRITETHINK they may also have questions and rubrics for them as well.

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  7. I've used AoW for several years now, and I'm amazed that it took me this long to come up with such a wonderful idea. It's actually a district mandate where I am. However, I almost never use a Vale article. I search out articles tailored to the content we're currently teaching, my students' reading levels (much more important than grade levels), and their interests. Also, those same texts turn up in our other activities that week, so the kids are re-reading and re-analyzing the same text repeatedly, instead of reading a bunch of different texts only once each.

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  8. I love your bulletin board, though! I have banners from the ceiling covering most of the walls in my classroom, and one is dedicated to AoW. It's so wonderful to refer students there for info before I do a one-on-on re-teach. Also handy to keep on my webpage for parents to see and use!

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  9. Do you have a copy of the rubric you use to assess these? I love the idea and would like to get it started right away! My students are struggling with informational text reading comprehension.

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    1. The picture on your bulletin board is a little blurry, but it looks like your rubric is a little different from the one on the Vale site. Do you use a different one?

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    2. So, I used theirs, but just cut a lot of the wording from it. I'm pretty hardcore about using a 3, 2, 1 rubric system (not sure if you've watched my writing video). Vale has a "2/1" category that I eliminated because I won't collect papers that look like that. (I just write "incomplete" and students have the option to redo it.)

      Hope that helps!

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  10. I really like this idea and I found all of the articles, but I don't seem to be able to find the rubric. Can someone tell me where to find it? I looked on Kelly Gallagher's page and on the Vale Middle School page. Thanks!!

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    1. It's here: http://vms.vale.k12.or.us/sites/vms.vale.k12.or.us/files/u13/_scoring%20guide%20student%20version.pdf

      Hope that helps!!

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  11. Tween Tribune is also a great site put out by the Smithsonian with leveled articles. I actualy like it more than Newsela recently because the stories seemed to be more curent. I do, however, love them both!

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    1. I will have to check that site out! Thanks for sharing!

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  13. Love your post, love AoW, love Kelly Gallagher! :)

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  14. What a great resource! I'm definitely bookmarking this one to use when I teach 7th grade next year. I like the idea of using the articles in physical copies so that students can annotate them, but I'm intrigued with other peoples comments about using the articles in google classroom. Do you use google classroom a lot? I'd love to be pointed one of your posts (or someone else's) who have been able to write about their experiences using google classroom.

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  15. OHMYGOOOOSSSHHH!!! I just got WAAAYYYY too excited about this. Like, I had to stop my husband as he was watching television, tell him to pause the show, and explain. He was so annoyed, but I don't care! hahaha Thank you for sharing! I'm TOTALLY making a bulletin board for my Article of the Week. I can't even. I just. LOVE. IT!

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    1. I love your enthusiasm, Lindsay!! Thanks for reading :)

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    2. Hi Jenna! I am the Vale teacher! A teacher from a neighboring school in our county just sent me your link. Thanks for all the positive comments!! I'm thrilled that other teachers are able to use the same AoWs I create for my students! Thanks for helping me end the year in a positive note!!

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    3. Ahhhh!!! Thank you so much for visiting my site! You are my hero and I am so, so grateful for all of the hard work you do and your generosity to share with other teachers! Hats off to you!!

      ~Jenna

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    4. I'd love to collaborate with you and hear some feedback from teachers using the AoWs. Please email me sometime!!

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  16. I am in love with this idea! I teacher Ancient World history (regular and PreAP). This would be an awesome tool with both levels of my students, plus I really try hard to connect the Ancient World with today's issues. I went to the website and saw several articles I can pull that would help. I also liked the comment that was made that these were used for Socratic Seminar! Thank you for the share!

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  17. This is amazing... where do I find the articles and everything to set this up!?!?!?

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  18. I absolutely plan on implementing this in August. My question is how did you make the board title letters? I'm sure it's something simple, but I'm on "July-brain" overload~!

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    1. I just wrote in large font on a word doc, printed them, and cut them out :)

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  19. Does anyone have any suggestions, similar to Vale Middle School, that would be more appropriate for 6th graders?

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    1. You can try newsela? But, I used the Vale articles with 6th graders (I taught 6th for years before moving to 7th) and they worked great!

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  20. Hi Jenna! I love this resource and am excited to try it out this year... I was wondering if you have any pictures of student or teacher work you could share. I see the one in the introduction but would love a few examples of the rigor for differing students/ teacher expectations. Do you require students to color code their work or do you just grade their note taking and responses?

    I am a 5th grade teacher (so some of the articles would work for my class as a whole group lesson!) but I looking for meaningful reading strategies to involve my students that will help support them on the high stakes testing that seems to be getting more and more advanced ... (Plus our district has been using the same low level reading book for the past 12 years and I can NOT read those stories one more time)

    Thank You so very much

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  21. Hi! I have a question about the rubric. The one you have on your bulletin board is just one page, but the ones on the Vale website are two pages and divided into informational and literary. Which one did you select to use?

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  22. Hi Michele,

    So, I used theirs, but just cut a lot of the wording from it. I'm pretty hardcore about using a 3, 2, 1 rubric system (not sure if you've watched my writing video). Vale has a "2/1" category that I eliminated because I won't collect papers that look like that. (I just write "incomplete" and students have the option to redo it.)

    Hope that helps!

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  23. Do you have a link to the rubric you created? I like your idea to cut a lot of the wording from it!

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  24. Is there a way we can get a copy of the lettering you used for your bulletin board Jenna? Also the rubric? Thank you! --Molly mollycleary17@gmail.com

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    1. Hi Molly,

      The rubric that I use is from the Vale site (I just removed their "1" category because I won't collect papers that are that incomplete). I didn't save the file that I made for the lettering, but the font that I used to make the letters is available here: https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/KG-Summer-Sunshine-Font-Personal-Use-1267500. I made the font size about 100.

      Hope that helps!
      Jenna

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  25. Jenna! I used AoW this year and had some issues. I have 140 students and I found the grading to be super overwhelming! I think this is such a beneficial practice for my kids...do you have any tips to make the grading part easier? Also, I've never used a 3-2-1 rubric. Is the highest score they can earn a 9? How much close reading modeling do your kids typically need to be able to do this independently?

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    1. Hi! So, I can grade my AoW pretty fast... I use the rubric holistically, so in my head a "3" = AWESOME! A "2" = Good! And, a "1" = Not Quite Yet! Most of the time I glance at all the answers and and closely read one or two and I can get a feel for the grade.

      Recently, I made some big changes to my AoW. I've been working on this new format for several months now, and I'll be putting up a new post later this summer, so look for some changes!

      Jenna

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  26. Follow up question! I see your first unit is on fiction...mine is too! As I plan for next year, how would you recommend introducing AoW to students? Do you wait until you get to your nonfiction unit or do you take a few days out of your curriculum to model expectations? Thank you so much! :)

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    1. Hi! So, I spend the first week or so working with nonfiction to get them ready for AoW. They need sooooooo much modeling!!

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  27. Do you teach Close Reading Skills to your students as you model? Do you use a specific model, program, or book for those Close Reading Skills? Do you mind sharing some of your ideas of those skills?

    Thanks

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  28. Jenna, when do you begin the introduction of AoW? Do you begin with old ones from the previous year? I live in Florida and our schools start next week, so we are quite a bit ahead of Vale. Thoughts... Thanks!

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