In my last post, I laid out the long, steamy romance that is my history with Kelly Gallagher's article of the week assignment (disclaimer if you haven't read it: it's pretty much not romantic at all, or steamy — it's just long).
In this post, I want to share some resources that come out of last post's conclusion that, from now on, I'll be posting Gallagher-style articles of the week and using many of the scaffolds I used last year on an as-needed basis. In other words, you might want to bookmark this post as it contains things I've used in my classroom and school to facilitate the ol' AoW, and some of these may come in handy for you at some point in the future.
In particular, I'm hoping this post helps:
- Those looking for scaffolds to use with Gallagher's elegant, simple, and powerful article of the week format.
- Those who liked the scaffolds I put in place last school year, including:
But first! Guiding principles for implementing article of the week
Before I give you the pieces of Frankenstein that will enable you to put together mongo-sized article of the week packets each week, keep a few things in mind.
#1: Focus on your purpose: Why are you teaching and assigning the article of the week?
I have one simple goal for the AoW assignment—that my kids get smarter about the world. Because of time limitations—and because of all the other things I have to teach—I have not created rubrics or taken the AoW deeper.
Just as focusing on our ultimate goals as educators is critical to maximizing the impact of our careers, focusing on our goal(s) for the article of the week is critical if it's to do the most good it can for our students.
#2: Avoid what Jerry Graff calls “courseocentrism”
At the end of the day, my job as a freshman world history and English teacher is to provide students with a quality course of study in what my district lays out as the English 9 and the world history curricula. I need to work with my colleagues in those courses to avoid what Jerry Graff calls “courseocentrism.”
What's that, you ask?
a kind of tunnel vision in which our little part of the world becomes the whole. We get so used to the restricted confines of our own courses that we became oblivious to the fact — or simply uninterested in it — that students are enrolled in other courses whose teachers at any moment may be undercutting our most cherished beliefs. As my retired colleague Larry Poston recently observed, there is something remarkable about the “almost entire lack of interest we manifest as a profession in what is going on in our colleagues' classes.” –see Graff's “It's Time to End ‘Courseocentrism'”
Even though Graff is writing about postsecondary settings, I have seen this phenomenon clearly enough in every setting and grade level I've taught. Marzano's research says this is bad — having a quality, guaranteed, viable curriculum is a powerful school-related factor in raising student achievement. But it's not just about Marzano's research — it's also about making school more sensible for kids.
But Dave, my rant-prone friend, aren't we talking about article of the week?
Yes, dear reader, we are. I'm simply saying this: resist the temptation to allow article of the week to take over huge swaths of your courses; resist the temptation to let students do the whole thing in class, every single week, if your curriculum doesn't call for it.
It is worth time, even if it's not covered in your curriculum — I'm just saying it's not worth unlimited time.
If you'd like a percentage of instructional time to aim for, my goal is to spend ~15 minutes on Mondays and ~15 minutes on Fridays for article of the week, and that's 10 percent of my weekly instructional time with world history students. 10 percent is significant but not curriculum-dominating.
I think Mr. Gallagher would agree with me that the last thing AoW should become is a curriculum nuking time-filler. My world history kids do need to learn and grapple with world history content. It's my privilege and pleasure to wrestle with how to help them do that in the most productive, authentic, long-term-flourishing-promoting ways possible. My English 9 kids do need to read the texts Cedar Springs Public Schools have mandated for English 9.
I am not God in my classroom; it's my job to take the curriculum and make it awesome with my kids, advocating as necessary when it's just not improvable.
With that said, let's move into some scaffolds I've put together for your use and modification. All of the scaffolds below are Google Docs; for a video of how to download or modify one of my Google Docs, watch the video below.
Rubrics for article of the week
These rubrics are most attributable to Doug Stark, a colleague, mentor, and friend of mine. I've modified them a bit for article of the week, so basically, if anything's bad, don't blame him.
How I grade the article of the week
Since I'm just going to be printing the rubric once, I'll print the one with reading for meaning statements and explain to kids that sometimes RFM statements will be a part of the assignment and sometimes they won't be.
Then, on their actual assignment, they'll see something like this for their grade:
This simply refers back to the rubric — they get a total possible of 5 points for the reading and 5 for the writing.
Reading for Meaning statement scaffolds
When and why are Reading for Meaning statements appropriate?
(This section is dedicated to Lynsay from last week's comments.)
I think the best way to figure out when and why you'd want to use RFM statements is through reading Perini, Silver, and Dewing's short yet comprehensive chapter from The Core Six, which, awesomely enough, is available free of charge here.
Article of the week writing scaffolds
Finally, there are those writing scaffolds I borrowed from various sources, most notably Graff/Birkenstein's They Say, I Say and Doug Stark (for the self-editing checklist).
I'd like to also recommend Erica Beaton's post on demystifying academic writing — click here.
And that, my friends, is how the cookie crumbles
Want to share more article of the week scaffolds? It's easy to do — just put them in a Google Doc, create a shareable link for the Doc, and share the link with us in the comments below!