Some of the best resources for a technology-using classroom are not found online! Technology projects need support and ideas from outside sources, and books and magazines can be terrific for that. Plus they come in a convenient format that is easy to carry, share, and sits neatly on the desk while doing the real work on the computer.
Magazines can inspire, inform, and offer fresh ideas. And they shouldn’t just be stuck in the back bookshelf, these resources can be used in whole class lessons, be resources for projects, and be part of an always up to date classroom library.
Many Borders and Barnes & Nobles have expanded their magazine sections to include magazines you may never have seen before. Browse these racks with an eye open for articles and visuals that can teach about design, media literacy, art and photography, do it yourself projects, and provide inspiration.
If you find a magazine you really like – consider getting a subscription. And yes, I know, it’s not free, but subscriptions are always a good thing to ask parents to purchase! Look for deals, these magazines are often discounted heavily with special offers for additional books or CDs. And don’t worry about them disappearing, because they will; just think of it as making room for new stuff. So if you find an article that is the basis for a really good project or lesson, be sure to make a high quality copy of it and tuck it away somewhere!
Magazines and their accompanying online resources are a great way to get inexpensive, up-to-date ideas and resources into the classroom. In this case, more is better because you never know where inspiration will come from and which student will resonate with an idea. Of course, with any materials not specifically written for the classroom, it’s up to you to be the ultimate judge about appropriateness!
Here’s a couple of magazines to consider:
Craft and Make – These two magazines are new, but have become instant classics. They celebrate the inventor in all of us, and show you how to do it with a decided techno beat. Every issue is packed with do-able, make-able projects that can be adapted for classroom use. The photos show how real people have constructed these projects, which makes them very real and accessible. The websites are also treasure troves of videos, podcasts, blogs and forums.
Before & After: How to Design Cool Stuff – this is a beautifully designed magazine about design. Some of your secondary students may be enthralled by the notion that every object that humans make is speaking a secret language that can be better understood. Color, placement, symmetry, use of fonts and typeface, and more are all dissected in clear language and beautiful pictures. The magazine is available in print, or even less for individual articles or in PDF form. There is also a blog that dissects design found in everyday objects. This latest post analyzes the new Pepsi logo design from a historical perspective, as a consumer brand, and as design. It’s fascinating!
Photography, Video, Audio magazines – There are quite a few magazines on these subjects, however, you have to be careful that the magazine is not all product reviews of stuff you frustratingly can’t afford – you may want to just pick up an issue on the newsstand now and then when you see a great article. Books are the better bargain here, and I promise to do a book roundup soon.
Computer specific magazines – if you have Macs and/or PCs, why not get magazines that cater to those platforms? They are fun reads, full of reviews, tips and tricks of the hardware that some kids will just soak up like sponges.
I recommend buying a month or two on the newsstand first. Some of these magazines (not the ones below) are simply advertisements disguised as magazines and not worth the money. Here are some of the tried and true:
Mac Life or MacWorld – C’mon, for less than $20 a year you get either of these great magazines with reviews, news, projects and access to a website full of videos and blogs. They are similar, but Mac Life has a bit of “attitude” while MacWorld is a bit more sober — so try them both and pick which works best for you and your students.
ICreate – For Macs, based in the UK. This one is a litter harder to find, but worth it. Gorgeous, with amazing ideas for creative projects.
Tech support and troubleshooting – if you have students helping with tech support, the magazines above are a great addition to the technical library. There is one online magazine that might be a real hit with older tech-savvy students – TechRepublic. Their emailed newsletters are full of tips and resources for network administrators and tech support professionals. This is going to be over the head of most students, but for some of those who are heading for technical professions, it’s a snapshot into the world of an IT career.
Last but not least – Wired magazine. This one is not project oriented, but explores the high tech frontier of all fields from around the world. The articles are well written and dense, but if we want students to learn how to be citizens of the 21st century, we should be sure that they at least get a glimpse of it.
Wired does have a “how to wiki” – and this could be a great source of project ideas. Featured today is an article on recycling e-waste. What a great project for a student or group of students! Does your school recycle computers, printers, and batteries? Could students form a committee to investigate this and propose a plan? All the facts are here to support this cause.