One of my favorite ways to improve students’ reading skills, to expand their background knowledge, and to teach current events is through Kelly Gallagher’s Article of the Week.
In Mr. Gallagher’s assignment, students get one article each Monday to read, annotate, and respond to.
But what happens if your students ask for more articles to read (or you want them to read more)?
One idea is to provide your students with newspapers and magazines in the classroom. This is wonderful but expensive. Another option is to introduce your students to Google Reader. This takes a significant investment in technology.
But if you keep a class website or blog, an easy way to increase your students’ access to high-quality articles is by adding a Diigo Enhanced Linkroll on your sidebar as a widget.
If you haven’t used Diigo before, you should check it out. It’s a wonderful social bookmarking and research tool that lets you save articles, annotate them, and share them with groups.
To the left is a screenshot of part of my current Diigo linkroll on iseroma.com, my class blog. I call it “Read This Now!”
You’ll see that there’s a link to an article and a short description, which I’ve written to spark student interest.
This makes sharing interesting articles easy. All I need to do is read like normal. (I read a lot online.) When I find an article that I think students would like, I add a little blurb and make sure to tag it correctly so that it appears automatically in my class blog.
Now if you don’t use Diigo, or you think it’s too complicated, you can always do something similar by adding an RSS feed into your class blog’s sidebar. Some people use Evernote, while others prefer Google Reader (or a read-it-later service, or even ifttt.com). But the problem with RSS feeds, especially on WordPress blogs, is that you can’t (as far as I know) add text to items. That’s why I prefer Diigo.
This is a new feature on iseroma.com, so I don’t know if students will like it or how exactly how I’ll use it. But I believe deeply that students need tons of high-quality text around them to read, and “Read This Now!” is just another idea to get good reading material to them.
If you’d like more details about how to use Diigo, let me know, or check out this how-to video.