Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Why I LOVE Scholastic News for the Classroom

My Scholastic News subscription is probably one of the best investments I've made this school year. Hands down. Because I subscribe, I get about two Scholastic News magazines for each child a month. The students love them because it makes them feel "grown up" and they enjoy flipping through the pages. I use it in a variety of ways in efforts to get the ultimate bang for my buck. I paid about 5$ per child. For an extra dollar per child, I also get a science magazine, Science Spin, once a month. The great thing is, Scholastic provides a good amount of resources to help stretch the teaching power of both of these magazines.

Initially, I wanted to use the subscription for the exposure to nonfiction text for my students. Coincidently, right after placing my order, I started researching close reading and how I could start implementing this teaching strategy in my classroom. How about Scholastic provides resources for close reading, too! This is a great help. Scholastic provides close reading questions that I use when reading the articles with my students.

Once my magazines came I started experimenting with the best way to use them with my students. I make a ton of companions that I use when teaching reading, science, social studies, etc. I use them because it helps my students organize their resources for each activity in one neat place without having to keep track of a ton of papers. It was only natural to create a companion to use with the Scholastic News magazines. Here is the first companion I made....

The first thing I had students do when using this companion was activate their prior knowledge. The first article we received was the Battling Blazes issue. It talked about forest fires, how they start, and how they are put out. They wrote everything they knew about forest fires on the first page. They could write words, phrases, and/or sentences. Next, we completed a text features checklist.
I always emphasize the importance of previewing the text, especially nonfiction text, prior to reading. I used the text features checklist to reinforce this skill. Before we read, we went through the checklist. We discussed the text features and read the captions, graphs, charts, etc. We then talked about what we learned about the article before reading it. Students usually get a good sense of what the article is talking about from this activity. This is also a good way to activate prior knowledge and build inerest prior  to reading.

After we previewed the text, I continued to build background knowledge by showing a video clip that comes with the Scholastic News subscription. When you subscribe, you get digital access for both you and your students. As part of this digital subscription you get this 3-minute clip that introduces the topic that is being discussed, vocabulary words, and authentic images. FYI- this is my students' favorite part of the lesson. Even better than that, when students access the digital magazine, they can watch the video again, listen to the vocabulary words and their definition and have the article read to them.  This is perfect for computer time during our Daily 5/ reading workshop time. After watching the video, students began filling in the KWL chart. We talked about the information they've gained through previewing the text and video. The students then wrote 3-5 questions that they had about the topic. 

Another benefit of having digital access is that you can project the article onto the whiteboard. Also, students can listen to the article for their first read. If you click on the blue button on the side of the article, you can project the close reading questions too.

So.... I used this companion for the first few magazines we received. Once my students got familiar with reading the magazine and completing the companion, I felt like we could start to dig deeper. Here is another companion I used with them: 

When I used this companion, I put a great deal of focus on the close reading questions. We talked about the questions provided and I guided students through the article. I prompted and probed but I did not give them the answers to the questions that were asked. I encouraged students to find evidence in the text to support their response. Students highlighted their evidence and made reference to it during our discussion. 

This week my students are working on their Science Spin magazine during our reading workshop block. It is one of their independent reading activities. (I will talk more about my reading workshop block in another blog post.) Here is the companion that they are using to read and respond to this article.

My students are looking forward to visiting the online magazine once they are finished with their questions. They will be able to listen to the article, watch the video, review the vocabulary, and play games. 

One thing I realized is that my students enjoy navigating this website once they log on. A few students even went ahead and started reading articles that we hadn't gotten to yet. Another good thing about this site is that Scholastic provides archived magazines from previous years. My students now know that they are allowed to read articles from the Scholastic News archive and articles we've already read. Once....If I ever have some extra time I would like to develop a few companions for some of the archived articles that students can complete during their computer time. 

So.... no I am not doing a product review for Scholastic. I am not trying to up-sell for affiliate credit either. I just really love using Scholastic News in my class and thought I would share how I use it with you! Feel free to stop by my Teachers Pay Teachers store to download the companions if you like them. If you are using Scholastic News in the classroom, feel free to stop by and re-download this file occasionally; I will update it as I add new companions. I will put all of the articles I make companions for in the description. 

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