Each school year, I like to implement a few new ideas into my practice. After reading Kelly Gallagher's Readicide: How Schools are Killing Reading and What You Can Do About It, I was struck by his Article of the Week (AoW) assignment. It reminded me of the Current Events articles assigned by my history teachers in high school, which helped spark my interest about the world beyond "my world".
In Readicide, Gallagher discusses his "students lack of background knowledge of the world." He uses the Article of the Week assignment to build their background knowledge, improve their reading skills, and help students tackle the challenging texts they often face on standardized tests.
The idea to use current articles to teach students how to do a Close Reading was something I'd overlooked. With the Common Core's heavy emphasis on nonfiction text, I realized this was one area of my practice I needed to improve in. Equally important factors in my decision:
- In previous years, I didn't expose my students to nonfiction as often as I woud have liked to.
- My students have limited experiences in reading nonfiction.
- My students struggle when reading texts written above their reading level.
- My students don't have the skills required to read such challenging texts.