The Power of a Student-Made Magazine
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
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.
- 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.
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.