There is definately a place for magazines in any high school classroom. They can offer a colorful and rewarding activity for early finishers; encourage reading; and present relevant information for students in an attractive package. Table group activities can be organised involving critical thinking and discussion about their contents or layout, and older magazines can be cut up for posters or other craft activities.
Most schools won’t find it too difficult to build up a decent stack of these useful resources. A local newsagent may be able to supply leftover copies of popular magazines, or students could bring in examples from home. Many school and public libraries also have magazines which they may be willing to pass on to classroom teachers. If funding permits, various faculties could invest in subscriptions to one or two publications which are specific to their teaching, and where appropriate exchange magazines with other teachers or departments.
Budgets aren’t unlimited, however, and it is also important to select for quality. The following suggestions may not be directly aimed at any one course, but they are all worthwhile reading or browsing diversions for students who are probably more familiar with electronic texts than good old fashioned paper ones. There is still great satisfaction that can come from turning the pages of a magazine, and students deserve the chance to discover that.
The world can be an amazing place, and National Geographic has a long and proud tradition of presenting its many faces in an engaging, and even inspirational way. Students have the chance to discover other places and cultures, and to be on the cutting edge of archaeology and exploration. For those students who may not have travelled much beyond their home town, National Geographic can be a window on the world. One does not need to be a Geography teacher to find value in students learning about how other people live, and perhaps drawing conclusions about their own time and place. Kids Geographic is a junior version of the original which offers younger readers attention grabbing articles on animals and countries, plus fun stuff like puzzles.
A cooking magazine
A magazine like Taste of Home or Family Circle is a positive way to introduce students to the idea that they don’t need to eat junk. Recipes are easy to follow, and the accompanying images make any meal look appetizing. Students may be inspired to eat better, or at least to engage in meaningful discussions about food. TV chef Jamie Oliver, the TED Prize winner for 2010, is adamant that young people need to be made more aware of healthy eating alternatives, and a cooking magazine may help them down that path.
Sports Illustrated Kids
The version without the swimsuit models has information on popular sports, interviews with the big name stars, articles on issues in sport, and plenty of youth content. Students will enjoy reading and discussing the articles, and may even be inspired to get outside and play a little more.
How It Works
How It Works is a marvellous magazine that teaches about technology and biology, and prods students into asking more questions. There’s plenty of color and easy to digest information about machines, inventors, anatomy, and other topics of great interest to young inquiring minds. How It Works deserves a place in any science classroom, although there’s enough variety in it to make it a welcome addition to any learning space.
Scholastic is a publishing company that produces a wide range of attractive magazines aimed specifically at teenagers. Especially recommended are Junior Scholastic, which targets grades 6-8 with a blend of age appropriate Social Studies and news material, and New York Times Upfront, a magazine which contains all the relevant news and issues to keep older teens in touch with their complex world.
The magazines mentioned above are by no means the only ones which might be welcomed in a classroom, and almost any periodical which a school can lay their hands on will help to broaden and deepen students’ interests. Although the market for teen publications peaked sometime in the 1990s, many print magazines now have online support material which includes games, activities, and the chance to contribute to blog discussions.
Magazines are a great way to encourage student learning. By presenting information which is relevant to young people in a glossier format than most text books, they suggest that reading and discovering are attractive habits to develop. Their accessibility also makes them ideal for developing new interests and stimulating critical thinking. Many magazines, and especially those discussed here, deserve a place in any classroom.