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.
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!!
(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 :)