I grew up getting “Highlights” in the mail. All I remember doing was circling the stuff where two seemingly identical pictures varied. I never read anything from any of the magazines. Storyworks Junior is very different!
First of all, there isn’t any coloring or games. But, that does’t mean they aren’t fun. On the contrary, the articles and literature within each bimonthly magazine is more intellectually engaging than anything else I’ve witnessed. A traditional paper magazine arrives in my teacher mailbox every other month with a four page educator outline of the periodical. The outline gives overviews of the magazine’s stories, skills, and online tools that are available.
Just finished reading #Titanic story, “Into Dark Water” about Jack Thayer from #StoryWorksJr (Sept ’17) by @laurenTarshis @Scholastic with #ThePolitePirates.
Ended lesson by playing @BloxelsEDU game that one of @KenEhrmann Ss made last year?https://t.co/QrvwPRaCDQ #EastPennPROUD pic.twitter.com/eM1Dp5pj1p
— Matt Weimann (@MrWeimann) November 22, 2019
Storyworks Junior is not that old. It began four years ago, as an offshoot of the Storyworks magazine for 4th, 5th, and older grades. This “Junior” version covers the same type of material as the original, but is tailored for ages 7 – 10 (third grade and advanced second graders).
The magazine is perfect for the young minds that I teach because it has just the right amount of information. Each issue starts off with a literary appetizer that looks like the kid version of something you’d find in Time. Some favorites are about “The Best Pet,” “Why Do Animals Have Tails,” and more recently “The Fattest Bear In Alaska.” These two page articles have minimal text, contain funny ideas, and provide interesting pictures to get you thinking. It takes five minutes to read these pages, but a creative educator could spend a week right here!
Get a load of the #Passion!
I’ve been working on a proj w @mountnbuddha concerning using #controversy in the classroom.#StoryworksJr by @Scholastic just published a story about #teeth
Had Ss debate what’s more important, #brushingteeth or washing hands.#ControversyCanBeClassy pic.twitter.com/Znq42Q3AgL
— Matt Weimann (@MrWeimann) November 14, 2019
Every issue has a feature story that is nonfiction. These usually come from the editor, Lauren Tarshis, author of the “I Survived” series. This report was supposed to be about an online resource, and so far I haven’t even mentioned the powerful online component of this incredible magazine! Well, buckle up, because here is where Storyworks Junior shines. I used to think that you have to read a book, before watching its cinematic rendition. If you witness the movie, the ending of the story will be ruined! Storyworks Junior, along with some accompanying research has changed this mentality for me. The featured story for each magazine has a video that you show before the students read it. This video is accessed through the StoryworksJr.com website. It not only has the story read to you by the actual author, but there are images and video that help kids visualize the text. One of my favorites was the story about the revolutionary war. The video had tasteful battle recreation scenes that made the story’s setting come to life, without being too scary for little kids. How do you do that with words?
“Does the video give away the ending of the story?” you may wonder. While it does answer the burning question of whether the main character survived, more than that, it gives students a mental literary road map for when they read the story on their own. They know what to expect. The video shows some of the text as it is being read, in between dramatizations of the story. Also, it provides vocabulary words with definitions in the middle of the screen when they are mentioned in the text.
If you stop to think about it, nothing is lost because the title gives away the answer, anyway: “I Survived.” You read and watch to find out what kind of hardships the kid survived.
The video isn’t the only online tool that Storyworks Junior provides. Every feature story comes in a variety of differentiated versions for beginners, intermediate, and advanced readers. And, don’t forget about those English as a Second Language readers! There is a text for them, too. These texts, along with vocabulary slideshows, worksheet packets, and quizzes, all made by Scholastic, can be shared via the Google classroom. Before Coronavirus imprisoned everyone at home, I used to print some of these packets for kids to fill in while reading/listening to the story. Then I’d let the kids use their work to take the quizzes that I nearly always altered a little. You can easily do this because the quizzes are Google forms.
Yesterday, I had Ss enable #Speech in #Accessibility so they could listen to the #pronunciation of #PirateTalk & #Vocabulary to prepare for #TalkLikeAPirateDay #ReadersTheaters.
This S figured out that U can touch one word and the option #SpeakSentence appears. #EastPennPROUD pic.twitter.com/g6l2QOx78T
— Matt Weimann (@MrWeimann) September 18, 2019
Let me backup a little. One thing that I love about assigning the Storyworks Junior magazine work online is that students can listen to the text. Scholastic knows the power of audio, so they have made every version of the story available in “Text to Speech” mode.
But, if you turn “Speech” on in the “Accessibility” section of the settings on your iPad, every single text from a screen can be read to students. When I type my own questions and information into quizzes in Google Forms, I can have students listen to the questions, explanations, and instructions. My aim with online learning is for kids to be able to do their work independently. I don’t want parents to be bogged down with reading or explaining things to their children. Between text to speech and in turn students using “Speech to Text” to type, I rest assured that my Polite Pirates have the tools in their hands to communicate their thinking to me.
— Matt Weimann (@MrWeimann) July 19, 2019
There are many educators connecting and chatting online about Storyworks Junior articles and teaching tools. You could join the Facebook group or tag them on Twitter. Use #StoryworksJr to share information.
Did you know that #StoryWorksJr has a #PacingGuide?
I just learned that from a new post in a Facebook group by that name. If you use Story Works Jr, you should join the group. Great ideas/discussion!#karaCoridan @aramirezgar31 @Scholastic https://t.co/BXZ1CS8R3r
— Matt Weimann (@MrWeimann) August 24, 2019