August 23, 2013

Teaching Informational Text with Magazines

Next Magazine Giveaway: Oct. 10, 2015

With the Common Core emphasis on teaching informational text, you might be wondering where to find appropriate texts for reading instruction. Most classrooms are overflowing with great children's literature and novels, but many schools lack a good selection of interesting nonfiction texts.

If you enjoy reading magazines yourself, the solution to that problem is right in front of you! As it turns out, children's magazines are a great source of informational texts. The articles are short, interesting, and appropriate for children. They often use a variety of different text structures and text features so they make excellent practice passages for working with nonfiction. In fact, many reading selections on state tests are very close in structure and format to magazine articles.

The challenge is finding enough copies of magazines for your classroom and knowing how to use them effectively. I'd like to share a few of my favorite sources as well as some tips for using them. I'm also going to give away at least one subscription to a children's magazine at the end of this blog post.

Weekly Classroom Magazines
Teaching Informational Text with Magazines - Tips and strategies for using magazines in the classroom and a giveaway of a subscription to Sports Illustrated for Kids
The most obvious place to look is to find a classroom magazine like Time for Kids and Scholastic News. I preferred Scholastic News and used it every year with my students. It was a great way for students to practice informational text reading and keep up with current events.

Since a new issue arrived almost every week, it was easy to integrate it into my literacy instruction and sometimes into science or social studies. We used it with small guided reading groups and reading mini lessons. It was easy to have students read and respond to the articles with graphic organizers or in journals. Because everyone had a copy of the same text and the magazine belonged to them, they could use highlighters to practice reading strategies and it was easy to discuss together. I also used it for "paired reading" practice as shown in this picture. You may be able to get your school or PTA to fund them since they are quite inexpensive, and if you are a public school teacher in the US, you can get them through DonorsChoose.

Monthly Children's Magazines
Weekly magazines have many advantages and should be a part of any classroom, but they don't have quite the appeal of a traditional magazine like National Geographic for Kids or American Girls. Monthly magazines are larger, more colorful, and have a wider variety of different types of content. Unfortunately, they are also more expensive and only send out a few issues each year, so it takes a while to build up a collection of them. It's also harder to figure out what to do with them because each issue is unique.

How to Obtain Monthly Magazines for Your Classroom
Where can you get these magazines? Here are a few ideas:

  • You can start by asking your school librarian if they have collections of back issues that they will let you check out and bring to your classroom. If you do this, be sure to write down the number of copies of each title and count them at the end of reading class to be sure they have all been returned.
  • Magazine subscriptions are available through Amazon.com, so you can now create a DonorsChoose proposal for a variety of children's magazines. The prices range between $15 and $33 per subscription, so you could request up to 10 different magazines and keep your proposal under $400. Most proposals under $400 are quickly funded.
  • You can ask parents to send in old issues of children's magazines, but make it clear that the magazines must be kid-friendly and are subject to your approval before they can be read in class.
  • Establish a "Classroom Magazine Fund" and ask parents to donate money to help you purchase classroom magazine subscriptions. You can customize and send the letter shown above.
  • Ask parents to donate a magazine subscription to the classroom. See customizable letter above for sample wording.
  • Some airline frequent flyer programs will let you use frequent flyer miles to purchase magazines. Delta's program allows you to purchase Sports Illustrated for Kids with points, and I'm going to be using my points to give away at least one subscription to that magazine. See details below.

Recommended Children's Magazines
The easiest place to look for children's magazines is on Amazon.com. Even if you don't plan to purchase them there, reviews are really helpful. By reading those reviews, I discovered that some magazines are full of advertisements and even include content that's not completely appropriate for that age group. Some of my favorite children's magazines are National Geographic for Kids, Discovery Girls, Sports Illustrated for Kids, and Ranger Rick. The reviews also looked good for Cricket, Ask, and Calliope. What are your favorite magazines? Please share your suggestions with us.

How to Use Monthly Magazines
Monthly magazines are harder to use for instruction because each issue unique. Therefore, the articles aren't particularly good for small group instruction. However, they can be used for partner reading activities or for whole group mini lessons if you have a document camera and can project the article on a Smartboard.

My students also enjoyed reading magazines during our "Magazine Power Hour" which was a special activity each month, often taking place right before holidays when kids were restless. This activity is described in detail in Power Reading Workshop: A Step-by-Step Guide, and there's a nice printable to use with the strategy.  The gist of the idea is that you conduct the activity in place of your regular reading instruction and provide time for students to read magazines for a whole hour. Because that's a long block of time to read, I had my students read their chosen magazine for 15 minutes and then meet with a reading buddy for a brief discussion about what they had read and learned. They repeated this two more times, and at the end they wrote a written reflection about their favorite article.

Sports Illustrated for Kids Giveaway 

Current Giveaway Ends: Midnight, PST Oct 9th
Teaching Informational Text with Magazines - Tips and strategies for using magazines in the classroom. Be sure to enter the giveaway to win one of FIVE subscriptions to Sports Illustrated for Kids!As I mentioned above, some airlines have a "Mags for Miles" program where you can get magazines for free. It just so happens that I have some extra miles from US Airways, and I like to use them to donate a free subscription to Sports Illustrated for Kids to FIVE of my readers. If you want to win this for your classroom, please enter using the Rafflecopter entry form below. This is a new contest, so if you entered before and didn't win, please enter again. The more options you choose, the more chances you have to win, but you may only choose each option one time. The contest is only open to educators who teach in a US school due to mailing restrictions for the magazines, and all entrants must either be a current subscriber to Candler's Classroom Connections or be willing to be added to my mailing list. After you enter your school name and mailing address, you'll have additional chances to enter. The more entry options you select, the more chances you have to win!

Even if you don't obtain classroom subscriptions of magazines for your classroom, I hope you'll consider letting your students bring them to school and read them from time to time. You'll want to check and approve any magazines students bring from home, of course, because many popular magazines are not appropriate for kids. However, I think you'll find that bringing magazines into your classroom will have a huge impact on your students and their attitudes towards informational text. Happy reading!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

98 comments:

  1. Laura, thanks for all of the amazing tips! I just put on my teacher wishlist a few magazine subscriptions. I never thought to do Donors Choose to try to get some subscriptions though. That will have to be my next project!
    Wendy
    One Happy Teacher

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    1. Oh, and how sweet are you to donate your miles so some classroom could have magazines!!!

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  2. I teach in a small Montessori school with no library except for the one I've built in my classroom. I want to get Time for Kids or Scholastic News for my classroom. Sadly, Donors Choose will not allow me to register because I don't teach in a public school. I guess maybe I'll need to buy the subscriptions on my own. I figure the parents pay enough in tuition I can't ask them to help buy magazines. These ideas are great so I'm excited to use magazines in my classroom!

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  3. Thank you! I just created my first Donor's Choose Project and am real excited about integrating more informational text into my classroom!

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  4. Thank you so much for the opportunity...and the heads up. I didn't know you could get magazine subscriptions on DC!

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  6. I use TweenTribune in my class. It's an online magazine, and it's free! Students can comment on articles and take quizzes. Teachers can add instructions and comments. My 5th graders love it!

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    1. Christine, thank you so much for sharing that with me! I am going to pass it along to my Facebook followers. I hope you entered the contest for a free subscription to Sports Illustrated Kids because I'll be happy to make you an "honorary" winner! If you did not enter the contest, please do so and email me at contact@lauracandler.com to let me know. Thanks!

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  7. Thanks for the tips, I plan to start the magazine power hour when we return from winter break. Just a tip when you subscribe to print versions most magazines offer a digital option for free. Some magazines allow you to view them on several different computers. This can make the one subscription to a magazine stretch a little bit further. I also know that during the holiday season there are several deals where you can buy one and gift one so you can get two subscriptions for the price of one. Also check groupon they usually have deals on magazine subscriptions. I got zoobooks for 9.95. Ebay also has bulks of old magazines that will be new to your students. Lastly, if you are members of NEA or other organizations they may offer discounts. I know I got Ranger Rick for 9.95 using their special offer and a gift certificate I got for being a member. Hope this helps!

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  8. My class would be so grateful. I use old scholastic news magazines.

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  9. These are great ideas! My class loves to use the online magazines too in addition to the ones you listed above. We use DOGO, Tween Tribune, and Newsela for current event articles that also have short questions attached. Thanks for all the tips! I purchased your Book Club set last night and can't wait to use it!

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  10. I teach a reading class of 6 boys and they would love to be able to read more about sports. I hope I win!

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  11. I love your Power Reading Workshop, it is a great resource as I teach using the Reading Workshop method again this year. I know my boys would LOVE a subscription to Sports Illustrated for kids!

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  12. I would love to have a classroom subscription. They will help my boys and struggling readers who have a hard time finding material for them to read.

    As for the items I have bought, I think I have most of your materials and I love them all.

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  13. I LOVE your things!!!! I have used your literary pack for analyzing characters. AND…. I REALLY love your poetry stuff, too!!!! :) :)

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  14. I use your character bio reports and my students LOVE them! Thank you for running another contest! I'm sure whichever classrooms recieves the magazines will be full of grateful students!

    Smiles,
    Courtney
    petzold.courtney@gmail.com1

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  15. http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Plural-Noun-Showdown-74343 looks like a great resource. tfrteach@aol.com. I think magazines are exactly what struggling readers need to spark an interest in reading.

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  16. I would be really grateful to have this magazine. My students love sports illustrated for kids and it is definitely a great way to introduce them to informational text!

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    1. I'd have to say my favorite item that I've purchased would be the graphic organizer books. Teaching with graphic organizers has made life easier. After taking the workshop in South Florida, I've enjoyed creating mini lessons using the graphic organizers!

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  17. We use Scholastic News; it is really great. Relevant and with lots of great information

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  18. I love the idea of using magazines in the classroom, and Donors Choose is a perfect way to get those subscriptions! Thanks for the idea :)

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  19. I love using magazines in my 4th grade class room. The topics are fun and relevant and offer great discussion prompts.

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  20. I never had considered using Donors Choose for magazine subscriptions, but what a fantastic idea! Students love having those full-length magazines available in the classroom.

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  21. I use a lot of your ideas and items from your Tpt store. It is hard to choose just one. I love Talking Sticks for book discussions

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  22. I love the reading workshop materials!!!

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  23. My class would love to have magazines to read! Also, your Power Reading packs from your TPT store look super!

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  24. Teaching with magazines is something my students enjoy immensely!

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  25. I love using magazines for my readers - this is a great opportunity. Thanks.

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  26. You have so many amazing ideas! I always feel so inspired after reading your posts. P.S. I just ordered your Multiplication book after I watched the webinar. Can't wait for it!

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  27. Love this! Thank you so much for all that you share!

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  28. I love the Power Reading Workshop book. So many great ways to be effective during limited time periods. It has really transformed my instruction.

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  29. such a great way to keep students up to date on current event

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  30. Students love to read high interest articles that are relevant to their lives. This is perfect!

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  31. I work with special needs students that need a great deal of help reading nonfiction texts. I would use these with my students-they love magazines! Great way to use current events with articles that aren't too long or too difficult.

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  32. I would LOVE to expose my children to this type of literature. Many of them don't have books at home, much less magazines. It would be a great experience for them!

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  33. My students, for the most part, don't have books or magazines at home! And with 2/3 of my students being boys, it would be a great addition to my classroom! I would love to incorporate articles into my "close reading" of informational texts!

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  34. This is a great idea to use real world text in the classroom! Thanks for the amazing giveaway!

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  35. I would love some help incorporating more non-fiction reading into my classroom! Thanks.

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  37. Sports Illustrated or Kids would be a great resource in our classroom that I know the boys and girls would all love. Lots of center activity uses!

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  38. Thanks for the ideas. I use Scope and Action with my intevention class. I have a few students who donate Kids Sports Illustrated. The boys and girls both love them.

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  39. It may not be the best way to use magazines in the classroom, but I always found them helpful when subs were there. I have used Time for Kids and Scholastic News, and since both come with teacher resource pages, it makes for some easy yet educational instructional time.

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  40. I have a lot of boys in my class this year, and a lot of them are reluctant readers. I would love to win to have another reading opportunity for them that might prove more engaging.

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  41. Excellent to teach nonfiction text features! Expensive, so winning this would be awesome!

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  42. This would be an awesome magazine for my class this year - I have 17 boys!

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  43. After being an early childhood teacher for 37 years, I currently am teaching 5th grade. I have a teammate who is sharing Time for Kids with me and I love them. I would love to use more in my classroom.

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  44. Since I teach Kindergarten, I would use it as a center activity for sight word searches. I would also do read alouds with it during whole group time.

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  45. I teach a very boy-heavy class of 5th graders and they'd love these magazines! My classroom is lacking high-interest reading materials for boys. Of course, my girls would also love them! PS...when I entered my school address, I mistakenly put the wrong zip code...the correct one is 78214..thanks!

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  46. I would use these magazines for teaching non-fiction text features and just getting the students to read more non-fiction. This type of reading is difficult for my 5th graders to read and grasp the main idea from.

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  47. I want to use these in my classroom as an alternative to the text book. I am working on creating a library in my room because I just started teaching Reading. Magazines would be a great addition.

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  48. Great Ideas. I have used magazines before and the kids enjoy them

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  49. I would use this as either a Close reading lesson or just for the kids to have access to another form of non-fiction. It would be great for my kids to read about people they can actually look up to. Thanks!

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  50. My classroom currently has a subscription to Time for Kids, but I would love to add Sports Illustrated to kids to our classroom library as another source of nonfiction text! I have a very sports-minded group this year!

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  51. Excellent tips, thank you! This year my class is chock full of athletes and thise aspiring to be....this will be an excellent tool. I have a decent selection of National Geographic Kids but the newness is wearing off with the students...lol.

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  52. I had tons of magazines for my 3rd graders to use, but they got "missing" while I was on sick leave last year. So, I need more so I can get my kids ready for the EOG test this spring. I have many activities I do with them in reading.
    susanlulu@yahoo.com

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  53. I have some magazines in my classroom, and the kids love them. It would be nice to have more magazines for them to use/enjoy!

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  54. I would love to add sports illustrated to my class library, the boys love sports as do many of the girls. I am trying to build a library and resources to show my kiddos that reading is fun and not just something they do in school.

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  55. We currently do Magazine Monday in our classroom. My kids read a magazine before going home. SI for kids would be a nice change! They think Highlights are for babies. Lol

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  57. Just was trained in Reading Apprenticeship and I can really see how using these magazines would fit in well with those strategies. I also have a variety of reluctant readers in my 6th grade class and this would gain interest and hopefully lead to life long readers!

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  58. I teach in a low income school in a very rural area of Kansas and would love to have more reading resources to share with my 6-8 grades. This is something they would be interested in AND it is nonfiction!

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  59. I would love to win this subscription--magazines are a great resource to use! Unfortunately, we do not have funding for more than one subscription. I know this one would appeal especially to my boys.

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  60. Replies
    1. I'm not sure what you are unsubscribing from, but this is not a way to unsubscribe from anything. Sorry.

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    2. I am getting emails each time that someone posts a comment on here. I love your site, but the emails are getting to be a bit much.

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    3. I'm so sorry! That would be really annoying! I have no idea how to keep that from happening. Somewhere along the line you starting following this blog post and I don't know how to undo it. I hope you can figure it out. Does it happen just on this blog post in particular? I have not subscribed you for anything. I did notice that there's a box next to the comment that says "notify me" and when I checked it, it said that I would get comments from the post. Perhaps you can find your original comment and edit it to unfollow the post. Maybe I can delete your comment if that doesn't work. You can email me at contact@lauracandler.com about this to see if I can help.

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    4. UGH!!! The emails are beginning to come in again! Can someone please help me figure out how to stop this from happening?

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    5. I still don't have the answer for you, but I did remove the requirement that people leave a comment on the post in order to enter. So you shouldn't start getting loads of them like last time. There are over 700 new entries and only one person left a comment so I hope it won't be a problem.

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  61. I would love to win this subscription but I think it would be a great way to encourage my students to read more informational text and it will really capture my boys attention.

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  62. I would love to win this as my school offers no magazines in any way to us to use. My students would appreciate this so much!

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  63. Magazines are a great resource for writing too. I like to use them as examples of different types of writing, have students write a letter in response to an article or side of an argument, report on facts they've learned, and write their own articles.

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  64. Would love to use this great magazine in my class full of sports enthusiasts! Great way to encourage reading!!

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  65. With the new Common Core standards focussing on non fiction, and limited resources in my classroom, I would love to implement this magazine for my students. I know they would absolutely love it because though most of my students are boys, many of the girls are sports enthusiasts! It would sure bring a nice change from the regular scholastic news old, recycled, editions. Thank you for such an opportunity to improve learning and reading in our classrooms! Happy New Year!
    Yvette-

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  66. My students love Scholastic News and are always so engaged when it is time to use them. I love magazines because it is helpful in meeting the common core requirements. Thank you for this giveaway!

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  67. As a teacher for students with special needs, I am looking for a variety of ways to teach skills to students. Because we have a wide range of needs to meet with a limited budget, I would use a subscription to provide additional high-interest reading opportunities while teaching comprehension skills.

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  68. I would love to win this subscription - teaching in a Title 1 School, means most of my students do not have enough money to contribute to the cost of a classroom set of "magazines" - and with recent pay cuts, health insurance cost increases and my own dear husband and 4 children... I can't really justify paying for said subscription for 24 students. Thank you for all your support, free materials, and encouragement!

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  69. I have some students who claim they hate reading. However, I feel that they would enjoy reading a magazine since it is shorter than a book. Also, I would like my students to read more nonfiction types of materials and this would be a great way for them to get started

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  70. I currently have a subscription to Scholastic News For Kids. My students love getting their copy each week. I would LOVE to get more of my reluctant readers hooked on non-fiction text with the Sports Illustrated magazine - another great option!

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  71. Laura,
    Thank you for hosting this giveaway. If I were to win the subscription I would use them with my Title I reading students. They are very reluctant readers but I am able to get them to read, and enjoy it, when I'm able to provide sources such as these. The nonfiction magazines would help me to teach them Reading Information Text Common Core Standards. My students would love having these magazines and I know that they would be a wonderful addition to my classroom library.

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  72. I'd love to win this because I have several kids in my class this year who are very interested in sports. I am a second year teacher and I have a lot of story books, but like you said in your blog post, I don't have a lot of informational texts. Thank you for hosting this giveaway!

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  73. I would use Sports Illustrated for Kids to teach Informational Texts, to find good examples of wriitng, and to encourage reluctant readers to read! I would love to have on of these subscriptions! :-)

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  74. I would love to win Sports Illustrated for Kids to use in my classroom. I use another magazine but I believe the students would enjoy the sports magazine.

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  75. I would love to win the Sports Illustrated for Kids to use with my kids who are reluctant to read informational texts. I currently use national geographic and time for kids but I think I can reach more students especially boys using this magazine.

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  76. Sport Illustrated for Kids is such a motivating and engaging way to teach information texts to students. They will certainly be more engaged when they are reading things they are interested in. Thanks for the offer.

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  77. I would use the magazines to teach informational text standards and to motivate students to read.

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  78. I would use these to motivate my reluctant readers to read & enjoy informational texts.

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  79. We would love to read more non-fiction texts in our classroom! I am a teacher new to second grade, and we are just beginning to study informational texts. Thanks for all your hard work!

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  80. We have plenty of fiction text, but would welcome the subscription to Sports Illustrated Kids as a new source of non-fiction, informational text. My class is mostly boys and the sports theme will appeal to them immensely. After using them for informational text activities, we will then use them in our highlighter center to challenge them to highlight sight words. Thank you!

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  81. Like many teachers, I have a library of mostly fiction books, some nonfiction. I would like this subscription because it would give my students more opportunities to read informational text and the topics would be of high interest. Thank you!

    chief9937@Yahoo.com

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  82. My students love nonfiction text! This would just be another way for us to have some fun!!! Thank you for the opportunity!!

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  83. I have wanted to try scholastic news magazine for a while now. My students have very little experience with informational text and I want to prepare them for common core. For my school and area Scholastic News is very expensive. I was thinking of trying DonorsChoose but am a little intimidated! I would appreciate any advice!

    Kathryn Lambert
    Klambert@oxnardsd.org

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  84. I am an instructional coach and I am constantly working on informational text with our teachers. I think magazines are not used to their full extent. Thanks for the chance to have this for our teachers.

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  85. The entry for school address went to complete before I could finish the address for my school:
    Cleveland Steward Elementary School
    5000 Gateway Campus Blvd.
    Monroeville, PA 15146

    One way that I use magazines in the classroom: All teachers, regardless of your classroom size can request from Highlights Magazine the flyers to send home to students. All your students need to do is return the form (even if their parents do not want to subscribe to the magazine) and you can get free things for your classroom: One of those being a free subscription to the magazine to use in your classroom. I do this each year and the students love it!!! They also offer many other products for free like pocket charts, stickers, pencils.....good way to build up your prize box!
    scheinbere@hotmail.com
    Emily

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  86. I hope I entered correctly! As a first year teacher, I love any help possible! Also, I worry that I target my girls too much because I'm a girl, and these magazines would greatly help everyone in my room, especially the boys! Thank you!!

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  87. I just entered and hope to win! My kids would benefit from this magazine subscription and would have the opportunity to analyze non-fiction text and become good at it. Thanks for the opportunity!!

    tinysmiles34@gmail.com

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  88. I focused primarily on informational text with my fifth-grade class this year. I have seen an incredible improvement on our District Assessments. I truly hope these gains will carry over when they take our state tests.

    I have many informational texts in my classroom library, but little in the way of actual magazines. Winning a subscription would be a wonderful benefit! Either way, I will definitely be writing a Donor's Choose request for next school year!

    Thanks!! urallmyan@gmail.com

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  89. Great article and great ideas! I really never thought of using children's magazines as non-fiction text..but, it really is a great source!

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