For nearly a decade, I’ve been using Scholastic News Magazines in my classroom. Not only do I love the the rich teaching ideas and content, but my students can’t get enough! When Scholastic contacted me to see if I’d share some ways we use the magazines in our second grade classroom, I jumped at the opportunity.
“We believe that students learn best when educational topics are made meaningful to them. That’s why each Scholastic Classroom Magazine takes a specific subject like math or language arts and uses captivating photos, informative writing, and impressive online features to make it relevant and engaging to every student. But our magazines aren’t just for children. Teachers bring them into their classrooms because they provide invaluable instructional materials that meet current academic standards and prepare students for state tests. With over 30 subject-specific titles for grades Pre-K–12, there’s a Scholastic magazine that’s right for every classroom.”
One of my favorite parts about being a subscriber to the magazines is that you get so much more than just the magazines (which are simply amazing). My students love the digital content that goes along with each issue. What I love is how easy the website is to use and how consistent it is — this way I can plan ahead knowing exactly what to expect.
I appreciate that I can pull up the digital issue of the magazine right online and use the built-in tools to highlight certain parts or zoom into certain areas. My students love the engaging videos that enhance each issue by providing another layer to their learning. We also all enjoy playing the interactive skills games that complement each issue. They are easy to play and go directly along with each lesson. Additionally, teachers can access more printables that are ready to use just by clicking on the tab. I’ve found these additional resources typically match the skills or strategies we’ve been discussing in reading workshop. So, they’re a great resource to dig deeper into our learning by applying what we’ve been doing in reading workshop.
A Lesson on Empathy
This year our students have been focusing on a variety of core values in effort to build a caring classroom community. During our class meeting time, we have been discussing what it means to have empathy towards others. My group of second graders defined empathy as understanding how someone else feels because you’ve felt that way before, too.
Prior to receiving the magazines, students shared their ideas about bats on a simple printable I created for their use to jot what they thought they knew about bats and words that came to mind when they imagined a bat. Then I collected these papers.
As you can see above, many students initial thoughts centered around the idea that bats were scary, dangerous, ugly, etc.
After jotting their thinking about bats, it was now time to learn about bats through their Scholastic News Magazines. A hush fell over the classroom as students began to read the fun facts and view the colorful photographs of real bats in a variety of settings.
I didn’t want to “lead” the students to think of bats in a different way, so I avoided a discussion at this point. Instead, I passed out the additional printable from the online resources, “A Batty Opinion.” I wanted to see if students would change their opinions about bats after learning more about them.
After reading the magazine and filling out the printable, “A Batty Opinion,” I passed back out the paper I created before the lesson began where the students jotted their thinking about what they thought they knew about bats and words that came to mind when they imagined a bat. I asked students to compare their thinking before they read to after they read.
I was overwhelmed by the insight the students offered.
Some of the responses included:
- I thought I knew about bats just because the way they looked.
- I use to think bats were scary, but now I think they are helpful.
- I didn’t like bats before, but now I do.
- I didn’t realize that bats don’t hurt the animals.
Then one student’s response changed the dynamic of the conversation completely…
- You shouldn’t think something bad about something before you know about it because you would not want someone to do that to you if they didn’t know you.
As you could imagine, a flood of second grade connections followed this remark. Students hands all raised wanting to share a time where they felt they were judged without someone knowing more about who they were. We discussed the importance of learning about something or getting to know someone before basing our opinions.
My teaching plan wasn’t to have a lesson on empathy. My plan was to have students access prior knowledge before reading a non-fiction piece of text. However, when presented with highly engaging content, we always gain more than we set out for when we dive into reading our Scholastic News Magazines.
An Extension to the Lesson
Students had the idea afterwards to teach more children about bats. They wanted to write a creative story on the iPads from the perspective of a bat. Using the Write About app, students composed stories filled with facts about bat life so that others could understand how bats can be helpful. We printed our stories and made them into a class book. Then we mailed them to our local science center to include in their bat exhibit.
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A Gift for Kleinspiration Readers…
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