The Power of a Student-Made Magazine

By Angela Bunyi on May 6, 2011

This week we begin the publication cycle for our class memoirs. It's always a delight to see the finished products, and students love to receive a copy of their writing, published along with that of their peers. I enjoy using resources such as Studentreasures for publication, but there are other great resources that can take the look of your students' writing to a whole new level. In this post I'll share some of these resources — and the power of creating high-quality classroom magazines — with you. 

 

Demonstrating What You've Learned This Year

Nicholasmag

This week a former student emailed me. It's always amusing to see the first line, "You probably don't remember me . . . " Despite a lapse of eight years since that student was in my classroom, I immediately took a trip down memory lane. I was happy to receive an update on how life was treating this soon-to-be-graduating student. I quickly opened up one of our class writing publications from that year and offered to send her a PDF copy of her page. Her response surprised me a little. She told me that not only had she held on to our writing, but that she was gearing up for a writing-related profession in college. It reminded me of the significance of class publications, something I have struggled to make time for this year. It really does matter to your students.

With that said, I highly encourage you to make time for a class publication. More specifically, I encourage you to have your students create a classroom magazine. Not only is it a lot of fun, but it also allows students to demonstrate a plethora of skills and strategies. For example, our class had to learn to:

  • use a graphic organizer based on the nonfiction format they selected (cause/effect, problem/solution, description, compare/contrast, etc.).
  • incorporate various nonfiction conventions such as labels, subheadings, captions, and so on.
  • organize and design these conventions and the writing for a magazine layout.
  • use technology to upload images, backgrounds, colors, and writing for a professional feel and look.
  • pick a topic of interest and present it in a magazine format.

Helpful Tools to Help Create a Classroom Magazine

Technology can really take your students' writing to the next level. There are many resources available to make the publication process a breeze. Start by looking through the pages of our classroom magazine. Then I'll share the tools that made it possible.

 

Tools/Resources:

  • Students used predesigned newsletter templates from The Print Shop, although they created a layout before viewing any designs. Fortunately, our students have a one-to-one laptop initiative and have this program installed on their laptops. If you don't, something as simple as a Microsoft Word newsletter template can create a similar look. 
  • Students did rely on The Print Shop library for most images, but additional images were taken with a camera or carefully uploaded from the Web. I really battled with the idea of taking images from the Web, but I also knew the critical importance of images. Magazines filled entirely with words are generally called books, so any quality magazine is going to need pictures to make it interesting. If you are simply using Google, at least click on  "Advanced Options" where you can look for images with free usage rights. 
  • There are literally hundreds of publication companies online. I have used Mixbook in the past and have been very impressed with the results. If you have a Web site, you can also upload the magazine articles and create a virtual magazine to share.
  • Create a unique magazine cover using MagMyPick or Big Huge Labs. Although I kept our cover simple this year, I have used The Print Shop and Print Artist Gold in the past to create unique covers like the one below. If you would like details on creating a magazine cover, read the post I wrote about it a few years back. 
  • Although I ended up not using the rubric provided below, you are free to use it and modify it as needed.
  • As requested, I have included a PDF and SmartBoard version of the five nonfiction graphic organizers utilized for planning writing for the magazine.

Magazine_cover

Picture 37
PDF Version of Magazine Requirements

PrintShop Version of Magazine Requirements

Screen shot 2011-05-06 at 6.52.10 PM

PDF Version of Nonfiction_Organizers

SmartBoard Version of Nonfiction Organizers

Questions?

This is a shorter post this week, but I am here for any questions or comments. Have you tried publishing a classroom magazine before? Please share your methods and tools below. I'd love to hear about it!

As always, you are welcome to visit our classroom online anytime.

 

Comments

Dorothy,

I always thought purchasing the barcodes would be nice, but I opted out on it as I have never used the scanner to check books in and out. My main goal was to have a printed record and search engine of our books.

So, with that said, if you are planning on checking books in and out with the scanner- purchase the barcodes. If not, manually typing in the ISBN number or searching the title should speed up the process and do the trick.

Also, glad to hear my other posts have been helpful to you!

Angela

Hi Angela,

This is off topic, but I wasn't sure where else to post. :) I have a question about the scanner you used to catalog your library. I bought the Intelliscanner and am just starting to scan in my library. The big problem I ran into right away is that many Scholastic books to not have a bar code at all and those that do, the Intelliscanner pulls up the wrong book. I've even found that Scholastic uses the same barcode on multiple books! Did you use Intelliscanner's barcodes and input all information by hand? How did you work around the bar code issue? Thanks so much for your tips and strategies!! I bought "The Daily Five" after reading your blogs. :)

And I missed your P.S. note.

Yes, I wrote an actual article for Scholastic on the H.W. topic two years ago. Teaching fifth grade gifted/high-achieving students has changed my policy a bit (we use a H.W. planner to create a plan of action for one hour of H.W. nightly for the entire week- eg. science project, studying, and reading), but I think you will find this article helpful in your room.

Homework: Applying Research to Policy

http://www2.scholastic.com/browse/article.jsp?id=3750268

Smiles,

Angela

Brittney,

I think your comprehension question is an important one, but one that depends on your class needs. You are correct that I do not spread my lessons out throughout the year. This would be like waiting to teach the letters of the alphabet to kindergartners throughout the year. They can't wait until October to be exposed to the letter "M" or what not. They need it now and they need it in context. So, yes, I teach it all and exclusively at the beginning of the year. From then on, it's based on what my class needs and how much of it is needed. My class this year seemed to lack some direct skills, such as sequencing and NF conventions (hence the magazines).

Also, great to hear you enjoy the blog. I enjoy answering questions. Ask away if you have any.

Angela

P.S.- Have you ever done a post on homework?

Brittney

I love this idea! I know my kids would be excited and very engaged to do this in our classroom! I have a question that is off this topic. I was wondering what kind of time frame do you give yourself for teaching comprehension skills? I read on one of your other posts (I think) that you teach them all towards the beginning of the year and then keep reviewing throughout the year? How did this work for you? I teach 4th grade and I do not know if I should spend a long time on each skill or if they are old enough that they do not need as much modeling as younger grades. I know it depends on my students. I am just thinking in general.

I enjoy your blog very much!

Brittney :)

Hey Marie,

Have you read my article Creating Readers: A Case Against Extrinsic Rewards? If not, that would be the first place to go:

http://blogs.scholastic.com/top_teaching/2010/03/creating-readers-making-the-school-way-and-the-real-way-match-up-1.html

Beyond that, it might be time to write a post on this subject again. I have touched on it several times, but I think it is an important topic to address. I am considering this subject now that you mentioned it. :)

Thanks for the kind words and post suggestion....

Angela

Hey Angela,

I LOVE your posts and recently read that you don't advocate extrinsic rewards. Would you please write an article on what rewards system you use in your classroom? I know my wallet would thank you. ;)

THANKS!!

Hey Ritz,

I just reread your question. I am a Mac user. I thought you were looking for something free that is like The PrintShop (besides Microsoft Word). The PrintShop is Mac friendly. I am a Mac user! :)

Angela

Ashley,

I would be happy to, but it is going to take me a bit to upload it (I am at school right now). I will put it directly in the post this evening as a PDF document.

Angela

Ritz,

I don't, on the top of my head, but I DO remember a program that allowed you to make nice/free brochures. I emailed a very tech. savvy teacher friend of mine to see if she knew of anything. If there is anything, she would know. I'll report back here and place it in the post as well.

Best to you!

Angela

I lvoe this idea! Would you be willing to share the graphic organizers you give your students to use as they write their article?

I love this project... what a great way to culminate the year! I would love to have my students create a classroom magazine. Do you or your readers know of any software similar to The Print Shop or Print Artist Gold for Mac? Thanks for all your wonderful ideas! :D

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