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.