With a push in the common core to incorporate more informational texts and a teenage audience that is becoming more globally aware than any previous generation, I have found that using high quality magazines in the classroom can help capture young minds in relevant reading and writing. I especially like The New Yorker, but the same strategies below can be used for Time Magazine, National Geographic, your local newspaper, or many other options. (Be sure to vet articles carefully and get approval where appropriate.) Many newspapers and some magazines also have an educator's discount! Below are some ways that I'm using magazines in my classroom. I'd love to hear your questions, comments, or suggestions below!
1. Engage students in high interest pieces. Instead of reading the same stale opinion pieces from the anthology, I find that students respond well to pieces like "The Case for Banning Laptops in the Classroom" or "Trigger Warnings and the Novelist's Mind". In every week's edition, I find something that I'm excited to share with my juniors.
2. Use pieces as a model for a student assignment. This week, I read "The Secret Fantasies of Adults" as a model for my AP juniors, to write "The Secret Fantasies of AP juniors". It was a great lesson in creative writing and the importance of understanding the speaker, audience, and subject relationship.
3. Use pieces for close reading and prose analysis. Last week there was a story entitled "Voting by the Numbers," which started with a beautifully written analogy and continued with an argument full of logical appeals and other rhetorical devices. It was great for teaching argumentation and close reading. If we want our students to be sophisticated writers, we must expose them to sophisticating writing.
4. Connect to other classes and disciplines. There was a piece this week about life behind the Berlin wall that I bookmarked to teach later in the year when students are studying the topic in their history class.
5. Use pieces to teach the art of writing other than essays. In every issue there are artfully written reviews of restaurants, books, movies, and other entertainment. These can serve as excellent models for students to write real life applications.
I can't fit magazine articles into every week of my curriculum, but when I can, students love it. An added benefit is the enjoyment I get from curling up with my magazine and a hot cup of coffee for some "planning" and "professional development" time! What do you think? We'd love to hear your thoughts below!