These websites offer middle school students the opportunity to read current events, current scientific research, and high interest science articles. Students broaden their background knowledge about science topics and events. Students become better readers by reading science articles appropriate for their interest and reading level.
By offering middle school students the chance to choose their own science article, they may peruse several before they do a close reading of the article that best captures their interest. Teachers can use these sites to select articles for students that will target specific topics or vocabulary, or to facilitate class discussion.
Students annotate the text as they do a close reading. Then they write a personal response to the article. Their personal response to the AOW (Article of the Week) includes determining the purpose and audience, as well as evaluating how the main idea is supported by using the text as evidence. Students write their personal reaction to the article and share questions raised by the text.
Having students read an AOW and write a personal response paper can lead to high engagement discussions both in the classroom and after the bell rings. Middle school students love to talk, and these science AOWs can give teachers topics of conversation for walking to the lunchroom or in the hallway. I often have students start a conversation with “Did you know…?” Or “I heard (or read, or saw on TV) that….” Having an AOW gives teachers a chance to help the student evaluate the information for themselves by going to the text for supporting evidence.
I recommend using AOWs with middle school science students.