I’m always on the prowl for engaging news stories that will give my high school English students access to high-quality writing on topics that will actually hold their interest. It’s not easy. The article needs to be well-written, challenging but achievable, and school-appropriate.
Sometimes, I build my own informational text lessons featuring interesting magazine-style essays (think David Sedaris, Malcolm Gladwell, Mary Roach) and depth-of-knowledge discussion questions. Other times, I want to use a shorter piece of writing and need some help sifting through an avalanche of media. That’s when Kelly Gallagher and Izzit.org have my back.
Kelly Gallagher is a high school English teacher and author in Anaheim, California, who posts an “Article of the Week” he uses with his own classes. Izzit.org is a non-profit that produces and promotes documentaries. While Izzit wants us to purchase DVDs sold on its site (I haven’t), it also hosts a super-useful feature – daily Current Events lessons. Each day of the week, Izzit’s staff members comb the web and post links to two school-appropriate articles, providing suggested questions to use with students. One article is relatively short, one longer. One is aimed toward 7th-9th graders, the other 10th-12th.
When the legwork of finding a good article has already been done, all I need to do is tailor the sites’ suggested questions (some of the pre-written questions are good, others are meh) to suit my own students’ abilities and run my photocopies. Engaging lesson plan featuring informational text? Done.
Please note: Kelly Gallagher’s Articles of the Week are truly a free, no-strings-attached resource. Izzit.org’s Current Events Lessons are also free, but you must register with a valid email address to access the lessons. I have no connection or business relationship with either website.
12 thoughts on “Ripped From the Headlines”
NewsELA is another great resource, though only four articles are free without an account.
Great tip, Katie. I’ll definitely go check them out. I also like the New York Times’ site, but it limits you to just five full-article views per month. After that, you’ll have to buy a subscription.
I have also had great luck with NYtimeslearningblog. They have several resources for current events and I especially like the ‘test yourself’ portion of this site; they take the first 6-7 sections of a news article and leave out key vocabulary words ant the students need to pick the best answer based on context clues. This is free using up to ten articles per month.
The Smithsonian also has TweenTribune. It includes articles by grade level. Articles can be assigned-quizzes are available. FREE
I always go to livescience.com for nonfiction articles. Great resource! You can use the search bar and type in anything, and you are almost guaranteed to find an article on your desired topic. That way you don’t have to search through useless, unrelated articles and waste time.
Great tip, Johnna. I’ll add this to my resource list! 🙂
Thanks, Brooke, for the tip! This is a new one to me. 🙂
Commonlit.org also good
Absolutely! Thanks, Jen, for the reminder. 🙂
I feel like I need to chime in regarding Izzit.org. Izzit.org is affiliated with the Free to Choose Network and the State Policy Network which are right-wing/libertarian funded organizations. None of the materials are unbiased and both receive money from the Koch Brothers and other right-wing organizations. I got a strange vibe after ordering their free film version of Harrison Bergeron and I did a little research. When you start looking closely at some of their materials, I think you will see what I mean.
I appreciate the heads-up on this, Leah! I was wondering where they were getting their funding to offer the free DVDs and daily article resources. I’ve used a few of those daily article question sets in a current events unit and didn’t notice any bias in the ones we worked through, but I’ll certainly look more closely. It’s always wise to preview things, for sure. 🙂