Top Critical Reading Lessons of 2020-21: Animal Themes

Upper elementary and middle school students—now more than ever—need to develop strong critical reading skills and understand current events in this age of distance learning, fake news, and misinformation. But, educators find it challenging and time consuming to review newspaper articles then create a lesson plan with exercises that are interactive and challenging for students. For 15 years, XTRA Weekly has a solution that saves time for educators by creating a weekly guided lesson plan that’s based on current events from articles from national newspapers that address critical reading, thinking, and writing skills.

BENEFITS OF OUR 5-WEEK SERIES

To help educators explore better solutions for teaching critical reading skills, we’ve created a five-week series to highlight our favorite lessons from the 2020-21 school year. Best of all, access to these sample lessons are free! In this second of five blog posts, we’ve provided examples of lessons with ANIMAL themes that were highly engaging for students… because animals are fun and interesting for kids!

The key benefits of investing time to review our lessons include:

  • Discovering a time-saving weekly guided lesson plan that you can subscribe to next school year.
  • Learning how XTRA Weekly is aligned to Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts.
  • Examining how this ELA resource will help with teaching critical reading, writing, and thinking.
  • Sampling how you can enhance students’ knowledge of current events on a weekly basis.

Our 5-week series will feature the following themes:

  1. PEOPLE (published 5/26/21) – Includes the current news articles:
    • Morgan State University president offers inauguration poet Amanda Gorman a job
    • “She retired once. It didn’t go well. So at 84, she’s happily employed”
    • “Paralyzed in an accident, he tackled the ‘Rocky’ steps as part of learning to walk again”
  2. ANIMALS (this blog post, published 6/15/21) – Includes the current news articles:
    • “Why winter weather is no match for rats in America’s ‘rattiest city’”
    • “Wolverines return to Mount Rainier National Park after 100 years”
    • “Shark sightings are up, along with ocean temperatures. Here’s what to do if you encounter a shark.”
  3. TRAVEL (published 7/9/21)
    • “Disney World unveils first of its 50th anniversary plans”
    • “Traveling for cherry blossoms: America’s largest spring festival”
    • “‘The most intense coaster ever’: Universal Orlando reveals opening date for Jurassic World VelociCoaster”
  4. HEALTH/COVID-19 (published 7/22/21)
    • “Tips for making music good medicine”
    • “Why good oral health is more than a beautiful smile”
    • “‘Co-therapist’ dogs and ponies to help boost mental health of pediatric patients”
  5. FOOD (published 8/10/21)
    • “Quinn on Nutrition: No excuses not to eat veggies”
    • “Free Krispy Kreme doughnuts for a year with COVID vaccination card”
    • “Quinn on Nutrition: ABCs of good-for-you foods”

To catch the BEST OF 2019-2020, please click here to see the 15 sample articles from that school year.

HOW XTRA WEEKLY WORKS

  • Start a subscription to access a new issue each week during the school year, which contains two weekly lessons.
  • Download the weekly issue via the Internet with 24/7 accessibility.
  • Each lesson contains a current Newspaper Article, brief For the Instructor lesson plan, Questions and Extension Activities for the student, and Answer Key for the teacher.
  • Choose an integrated curriculum geared for your students in either Grades 3-5 (Level 1) or 6-8 (Level 2), or use both levels.
  • Share each lesson with your students, which uses current nonfiction articles from national newspapers to engage students in reading, writing, and critical thinking.
  • Repeat the process weekly during each school year — you’ll get 32 lessons (actually, 64 lessons since each lesson contains both Level 1 and 2 activities).

Now, let’s get started sampling some of the animal-related lessons that we created for educators during the 2020-21 school year involving rats in Chicago; wolverines in Mt. Ranier National Park; and increased shark sightings.

ANIMAL THEME: SAMPLE A

“Why winter weather is no match for rats in America’s ‘rattiest city’” (Level 1, Lesson 23— 2020-21)

XW BestOf Lesson 23-1
A rat scurries near the Navy Pier Flyover in Chicago on Dec. 18, 2020. (Jose M. Osorio/Chicago Tribune/TNS)
Click to view the NEWSPAPER ARTICLE Click to view FOR THE INSTRUCTOR Click to view the QUESTIONS Click to view the ANSWERS Click to view the EXTENSION ACTIVITIES

 

ANIMAL THEME: SAMPLE B

“Wolverines return to Mount Rainier National Park after 100 years” (Level 2, Lesson 1 — 2020-21)

XW - BestOf - Wolverines
Mount Rainier National Park is once again home to wolverines, after a more than 100-year hiatus. (NPS/Cascades Carnivore Project/TNS)
Click to view the NEWSPAPER ARTICLE Click to view FOR THE INSTRUCTOR Click to view the QUESTIONS Click to view the ANSWERS Click to view the EXTENSION ACTIVITIES

 

ANIMAL THEME: SAMPLE C

“Shark sightings are up, along with ocean temperatures. Here’s what to do if you encounter a shark.” (Level 2, Lesson 3 — 2020-21)

XW - BestOf - Shark Sightings
Swimmer killed Monday in suspected shark attack off Maine vacation spot, state says. (Dreamstime/TNS)
Click to view the NEWSPAPER ARTICLE Click to view the FOR THE INSTRUCTOR Click to view the QUESTIONS Click to view the ANSWERS Click to view the EXTENSION ACTIVITIES

NEXT STEPS

Now that you’ve discovered why educators love XTRA Weekly, here are the next steps:

  • Join our mailing list to be notified when the subscription for the 2021-22 school year is available for purchase (Annual cost: $500 per school for all its teachers or $200 per individual teacher)
  • For the 2021-22 school year, Lesson 1 (Levels 1 and 2) will be published starting in September. You’ll be notified at a later date on how to login to XTRAWeekly.com to access the weekly lessons.
Click to JOIN OUR MAILING LIST

 

 

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