XTRA Weekly is an interactive literacy curriculum that uses current articles from a variety of national newspapers to present topics of interest that serve as a basis for activities that engage the student and encourage development of critical-thinking skills and greater literacy. Lessons are based on the Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts and on a higher-order thinking skills framework developed by experienced educators at the eighth-largest district in the United States.
Two new articles are presented each week throughout the school year along with engaging and interactive activities designed to boost reading, writing, and critical-thinking skills. Each week’s lessons include one set for grades 3–5 and one set for grades 6–8. Lessons can be used with small or large groups of students in classrooms, after-school programs, and home-schooling environments, and are easily adapted for individual instruction.
You can download an actual lesson for grades 3-5 from a previous school year for free here.
Articles, lessons, and instructions are provided in an attractive, easy-to-open, printable pdf format. Each lesson is subdivided into independent activities varying in length from 30 minutes to 1.5 hours. Step-by-step instructions guide teachers or instructional aides through preparation and presentation of lessons and extension activities. All components are labeled Level I or Level II with no grade-level designation; both levels are included with a subscription and can be used interchangeably according to aptitudes and interests of students.
A one-year subscription comprises 32 issues (64 lessons), published in weekly increments from mid-September through late May (excepting holiday breaks). Lessons may also be purchased individually. The free download is a sample of one lesson.
Each lesson includes five elements:
1. Newspaper Article – an article of current and high interest from a national newspaper. All paragraphs are numbered for ease of reference by instructors and students.
2. For the Instructor – step-by-step suggestions for planning and presenting each lesson, including tie-in websites, supplies needed, time requirements, and warm-up activities.
3. Student Questions – five questions designed to teach students vocabulary and higher-order thinking and reading skills.
4. Teacher Answer Key – answers to questions posed on the Student Questions sheet along with citations of applicable content and skill standards for each question.
5. Extension Activities – a set of activities linked to the article content, geared to stimulate students to improve their literacy through writing, discussion, artwork, games, and other entertaining activities. Includes one activity appropriate for ELL students and a parent/guardian involvement activity that can be assigned as homework.
Download the free Sequence of Instruction and Pacing Guide for detailed information on preparation for and presentation of lessons. This guide offers suggestions for adjusting lessons to be completed over the course of one, three and five class periods.