Next year I would like to get the students engaged, and encourage and empower them to make it their own. I'm thinking of having a weekly sign-up sheet, where one student from each of my five classes brings in an article, presents it, and posts it to the cove. I'm thinking of having it count as a single (perhaps double?) homework "check."
Does anyone else have experience with integrating current events into their curriculum? I'd like this to be some type of "starter" activity that I might pair with journal writing at the beginning of the period.
Last year I had my students write for five minutes every day in writing journals. They were graded on quantity, not quality, and they could essentially write about whatever they wanted. This served to help mellow the students and get them ready to focus on the day's lesson. It also gave them an outlet for personal non-fiction writing and reflection.
The students I had this year were more easily engaged than last year's group, and I ended up abandoning the freewrite activity about halfway through the year because I found it was taking too much time away from the bulk of my classroom instruction.
Next year I plan to bring back the freewrite journal. It will still be a place for personal writing, but I'd like the entries to be more focused, either in response to current events, a profound quotation, or a pensive question.
I'd like to spend 5-8 minutes three days a week writing at the beginning of class. I'd also like to have the flexibility to nix this start-of-class writing in the event I need more class time for a particular lesson or activity (classes are 55 minutes). I plan to require a minimum number of entries, - perhaps 20, two-to four-paragraph responses per quarter - and students may be asked to spend time outside of class to complete their journals.
Do others incorporate journals into their curriculum? When do students write in them? What do they write about? How are they graded?