One part of my Social Studies curriculum was to incorporate current events into our classroom. However, I wanted my students to have the opportunity to think about and research topics that truly interested them. We incorporated Article of the Week.
For homework, students would find an article in their local newspaper or from a reputable online source (not Wikipedia!). I gave them a few websites that had articles written specifically for students. This allowed them to learn about current events, but in terms that were easier for them to understand. I suggest DOGO News, Newsela, and Time for Kids.
I also gave students access to Storyworks magazines or Scholastic News in our classroom. Again, this gave them the opportunity to learn about the world around them in terms that were easier to understand.
After reading the article, I encouraged them to discuss it with a family member. This allowed for a deeper understanding of the content. Students then wrote a short summary (5-7 sentences) summary of the article and their personal reaction to it. You can download the template here for free!
We work hard, especially at the beginning of the year, to write meaningful sentences. They need to explain more than “This was a good article” or “I liked it.”
Once a week, we would have Article of the Week day. On Wednesdays, we had a shortened Social Studies class due to scheduling conflicts, so it was a perfect day for presenting. Each student would give a short presentation of their article – a quick overview and their reaction. They would be allowed to have their paper in front of them, however, they were encouraged not to read directly from it.
The presenter would then take 3 questions or comments from their peers. This was another area we worked on together as a class. I wanted them to move beyond questions, such as “was it good?” Or “did you like it?” I also was looking for more specific comments than “good job” or “I liked your topic.” We worked on asking thought-provoking questions and specific comments.
Since we had a shortened class, it didn’t allow time for each student to share in one class period. I had students complete an Article of the Week every other week. My students each have a class number (alphabetically), so even numbers would go one week and odd numbers on the opposite week. This way, students were only required to find an article every other week.
After presenting, I would give them a grade on both their written response as well as their presentation. I used this rubric to score them. I always copied the response page and the rubric on the same page, back-to-back. This not only saved paper, but let my students know exactly what I was expecting of them each week.
Wednesdays quickly became our favorite day of the week. I always looked forward to hearing not only what interested them, but their reactions to it as well. Presentation days also became a day of conversation in our class, as they talked about and discussed current events, with little to no input from me. Such amazing conversations!
You can grab both the Article of the Week student template and the rubric for free here. I hope you find it helpful in your classroom!