I know that teachers have a lot to juggle. When it comes to reading, you know things can get complicated. Kids simply need more time to read, and they need reading materials that are interesting and enjoyable. Every issue of Explorer magazine is packed with engaging nonfiction content and stunning images—the kind that you expect from National Geographic. Explorer magazine invites kids to be explorers of our world through reading, and the magazines give you the support you need to teach content literacy.
I have never found a kid that can’t be interested in something from the real world. The real world is rich, fascinating, and compelling. Nonfiction, like that found in the articles of Explorer, offers a most direct route to explore our world. The headlines, photos, maps, charts, and other text features create a full picture for readers even before they start reading.
The important thing is that kids are reading. Kids have to develop a seamless ability to read, and that comes with choice and interest. Then, when the text becomes more difficult (which is often the case with content that kids are not as interested in), it’s all about HOW they read. That’s where strategic reading comes into play. The more difficult the text, the more consciously strategic a reader has to be. We teach strategies so kids can enhance their understanding and engagement with the text.
Strategic reading is directly connected to text complexity. The harder the text is for a reader, the more apparent strategic reading becomes. For instance, when kids are reading complex content material, they must know how to infer the meaning of unfamiliar words since they are likely to meet quite a few. They will need to think about what they already know, read around the word and merge their thinking with clues in the text to infer the meaning of unfamiliar words. Think of the last time you had to read something that was difficult for you. I’ll bet you had to employ some strategic reading to grasp the meaning. It’s the same for kids.
Reading is about making meaning. We read to get information, tobe entertained, and to explore the things that interestus. As adults, we read for many reasons that serve us.For the kids you teach, remember that they deserve tosee reading as a meaningful act in the same way you do.They need to know how to talk about reading–to havegreat conversations and collaborations around reading.You can promote interaction and engagement byhelping them understand that reading can fuel theircuriosities, stir their senses, and allow them to acquireknowledge along the way.
When to Use Explorer Magazine
Here are a few ways to think about using Explorer magazine throughout the school year:
- Have magazines available at all times or have kids keep the magazines in their desks, so they can refer to them often and read them on their own. These are magazines kids will want to peruse often.
- Incorporate various articles or issues into science, social studies, or reading blocks, based on the topics.
- Pull out old issues of the magazine from previous years, and allow kids time for independent reading. Then set aside time for kids to share what they learned and offer reading recommendations. This is a good way for kids to get to know what other kids’ reading interests are so they can offer reading suggestions when they come across new articles.
- If kids are interested and want to learn more about the topic of a particular article, use the magazine as a springboard. A small group of interested students could do further research on the topic and present it to the whole class.
- Use the articles to launch whole-class research and writing projects.
- If you are currently engaged in a nonfiction study, these magazines and lessons are a wonderful resource.
- If you have a number of striving readers, pull them together in a small group and focus on the images before reading.
- Consider current events and use articles that link to something happening in our world.
These are only a few suggestions for when and how to use Explorer magazine in your classroom. You might even want to ask your students to give you suggestions. Kids usually come up with the best ideas.
Stephanie Harvey is a literacy expert and National Geographic Education Fellow. She recently collaborated with the Explorer magazine team to review and improve the Teacher’s Guides of the classroom resource for students grades K-5/6.