#SmartTeachingTips with Scholastic's Storyworks Jr.

I am excited to be sharing some great resources with you today, all brought to you by Scholastic and their Storyworks Jr. magazine!

As you know, I am a fan of Scholastic News magazines for incorporating easy, quick, and purposeful nonfiction lessons throughout the year. Not only are the kids engaged with the photos, articles, and videos, I'm able to cover a lot of standards in small, manageable chunks.

So imagine my excitement when Scholastic reached out to me to help them spread the word about their language arts magazine, Storyworks Jr.!

From Scholastic:
Turn your growing readers into fluent readers with the exciting multi-genre language arts magazine made for grades 2 & 3! Every issue features thrilling nonfiction, fiction, read-aloud plays, quizzes, skills sheets, and more to help third graders go from “learning to read” to “reading to learn.” Go online for even more exceptional support including dazzling videos and differentiation tools. Grades 2–3, Monthly.

I was amazed by the sheer quantity of pieces in this magazine! Everything from fiction to nonfiction (even narrative nonfiction!) and plays, to paired texts, opinion pieces, vocabulary, and more. 

While I do love delving into authentic literature in Reader's Workshop, the standards require that students utilize more than just the skills learned in chapter books, so this was a welcome resource in my class. 

Paired Text Lesson Plan

Paired texts are huge in third grade, both in standards and testing. But, wow, are they challenging to find in unique and engaging formats. What I loved about the paired text in this month's edition was the Then & Now focus on exploration; both the dangers of ship exploration (and the gross difficulties they encountered!) and today's current space exploration. 

I have a range of readers in my classroom, but I found that my kids were all engaged equally, thanks to the high-interest facts and detailed photos and text features that accompanied this text. There was also a host on online resources we used later to write about our thinking, but to begin, we read this as a class while each student had their copy and I used our projector to show the full image.

I had students head back to their seats after we did a read aloud and underline the key words and phrases that defined each "then" and "now" section. 

I then passed out plain notecards, and two images I printed from the computer for each student: one of Magellan's ship and the other of Mars. They glued one image on each side of the card and we came back to the rug to share our key words.

On the rug together, a student would share out a key word, like "rover", and students would need to show me the image on the card that matched the word. Other key words included hardtack, sawdust, astronauts, and more. 

Some words and phrases, like "took many years" or "discovery" made us stop and pause. Some kids flipped their cards back and forth to show both and it was a good intro into our class-made chart. Since I can't make two circles for a Venn Diagram to save my life, we completed this one instead:

And of course, the final question was, "Which type of explorer would you rather be?" which yielded a mixed bag, although most sided with current space exploration. Our conversations were lively around who wouldn't mind eating sawdust and sailing on an ocean for years, too. The kids were hooked!

After this whole-class experience, I was grateful to have so many online resources provided at the Storyworks Jr. website to use to delve even deeper with my students. Close Reading, vocabulary, and reading responses are all important skills that we need to practice all year long, so to have these ready-made not just for this article, but for every piece in the magazine, was a huge bonus.

Even though this lesson is over, my kids still love this magazine. A group of students took it outside at recess one day to read through the play, we used the narrative nonfiction (which is always a challenging genre for me to find on-level) to discuss a different style of nonfiction, and we even looked at their infographic on tails when we discussed animal adaptations for our research project. 

I highly recommend this magazine for your classroom if you're looking for a variety of texts in different genres, all with supporting audio, video, and writing activities. 

Smart Teaching Tips Contest

Scholastic Magazines is hosting a #SmartTeachingTips contest for teachers to develop your own creative ideas on how to incorporate Scholastic Magazines into the classroom!

You could win a $200 gift card from the Scholastic Teacher Store!
Share your #SmartTeachingTips for how you use Scholastic magazines creatively in your classroom. Tell us about it on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or Instagram, and include a photo or video. Be sure to use #SmartTeachingTips. 

Three winners will be chosen based on outstanding creativity. Each winner will receive a $200 gift card to the Scholastic Teacher store. We’re excited to see your ideas! Follow Scholastic Teachers on social media to learn more.

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Scholastic Magazines are the most affordable and exciting way to bring current, curriculum connected nonfiction into your classroom. To save 40%, mention code “2905” when ordering. Call 1-800-SCHOLASTIC or visit www.scholastic.com/magazines.

Good luck on the contest and enjoy these great offers from Scholastic!

{Disclosure: This post was done in partnership with Scholastic Magazines and I only share what I use and love in my own classroom.} 

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