Once I began preparing students for the TASC, New York Times Upfront became one of my main go-to sites for social studies and writing materials. This classroom news magazine from Scholastic includes 1-3 page articles related to government and U.S. history which are a great way to build student background knowledge in an engaging manner. The articles are short, but not so short that they don’t provide a “big picture” view and essential facts about major U.S. events. An added advantage is that readers learn “why it is important today.” Finally, the reading level is perfect for HSE students; readers are exposed to words like “factor” and “terminate,” but there are not so many unfamiliar words that reading becomes daunting.
In addition to the articles on history, I draw heavily on New York Times Upfront’s Pro/Con pieces. I like them because both the “pro” and “con” are short—about half a page—and make one or two main points so students don’t get lost in the argument. I’ve used “Should the Minimum Wage be Raised?” and “Is it Too Easy to get a Gun?” along with many others, quite successfully. Other teachers I’ve shared this resource with have found it to be equally valuable.