Check Out Our New Website!
We are positively bursting with excitement over this announcement: The beta version of the brand-new Storyworks website is ready for you to explore! We just couldn't wait to show you what we've been working on, and we hope you'll find the new site beautiful, easy, and intuitive. Check it out here!
Beta is basically code for “work in progress,” so keep that in mind as you explore. We will be making lots of changes and additions in the coming weeks. But there are so many cool features ready for you to check out now that I just couldn’t wait to show you!
Here’s what I want you to see:
- The simple and delightful navigation
- The gorgeous new design
- How to bookmark and save your favorite stories and activities for later
And, drumroll, please . . .
- Search! Yes! Search! At long last, you’ll be able to search by topic, genre, and skill.
Here’s a sneak peek of what’s to come:
- Easy integration with Google Classroom
- Revamped vocabulary slideshows for an improved viewing experience
- A showcase of students’ writing, which celebrates their work
- Access to a selection of articles and stories from prior years
I hope you will take some time to explore the new site as it develops and to share your thoughts with us at email@example.com. Your input will be invaluable as we refine the site for Back to School. In fact, many of the site’s new features were created because teachers like you requested them. So please keep the feedback coming!
Help Make Storyworks Even Better!
We are looking for passionate educators to join our Teacher Advisory Board for the 2018-2019 school year. As part of our board, you would provide essential feedback about our stories and resources while also guiding us on important editorial decisions. Plus, you would have the opportunity to connect and collaborate with your Storyworks colleagues—discussing ways to grow, sharing ideas for student engagement, and more!
If selected, your commitment would include:
- Using each issue of Storyworks (doesn't have to be in its entirety, but at least three articles or features)
- Completing short questionnaires (10 minutes) for each issue in a timely manner to provide insight into how you used the issue, what worked, and what didn’t
- Periodically giving feedback about upcoming articles, images, and topics, as well as new teaching tools
- Optional: Promoting Storyworks through social media or through attendance at conferences and professional development events
In return, Storyworks Advisers receive:
- A FREE one-year subscription to Storyworks for your class (up to 35 student copies)
- Partnership and editorial influence on the development of Storyworks magazine and teacher resources
Ready to join?
Our goal is to form a diverse board representing different school environments, student populations, and geographic regions. Please consider adding your voice to the mix! Follow this link to apply by June 30. Questions? Email education editor Rebecca Leon anytime!
A Fun Way to Stop Summer Slide
Picture this: It’s the last day of school. You’re saying goodbye to your students, who’ve come so far this year, thanks to their hard work and determination—and your tireless, creative, loving efforts to help each child reach his or her potential.
But over the summer, some of these students will lose the ground they gained this year. You’ve surely heard the disheartening statistic that children can lose an entire month’s worth of reading skills over the summer. (Ouch!) If they come from low-income families, the risk is even greater that they will fall behind by the time they return to school. Some studies estimate they lose two to three months’ worth of learning over the summer.
What if you could virtually guarantee your students could get valuable reading practice all summer? We’ve just introduced our brand-new Scholastic Summer Reader skills books, which are packed with engaging, high-interest stories on topics your kids won’t be able to resist. These books are made up of student favorites from Storyworks, Scholastic News, and Super Science, which means they’re riveting reads at exactly the right level for them. The stories will also provide your students with background knowledge and make important connections to science and social studies.
Imagine your students walking out the door on that last day of school with their Summer Reader in hand. You won’t have to rely on library summer reading programs, or hope that busy families will take it upon themselves to keep their children reading. Your kids—especially reluctant readers—will want to read the stories about snakes, about slime, about kid inventors. They won’t be daunted by the prospect of reading an entire novel; they’ll be excited to tackle the articles in manageable lengths (2 pages, 4 pages, 6 pages). And they’ll have the opportunity to reflect on what they’ve read by using the imaginative writing prompts throughout.
Students going into 3rd grade will get a 32-page book filled with thrilling stories and fun activities:
Summer Readers are available now for just $3.99 each. It could be an amazing parting gift to your students. Or talk to your PTA/PTO about funding it—what a perfect family engagement literacy initiative! In fact, parents themselves can place an order for Summer Readers, so consider passing this along to your families.
To learn more, sneak a peek inside each issue, and order, just click here or call 1-800-724-6527 (use Code 3EF).
The Most Delightful Test-Prep Tool in Your Toolkit!
We know that test prep can be a stressful—and less than exciting—time in your classroom. Making your teaching life easier and your students' learning deeper and more joyful are our top goals, so we have a recommendation we're dying to share with you: Try digging into the Storyworks Core Skills Workout: Making Inferences.
This unique 64-page workbook helps students practice one of the most important analytical reading skills—and one that's most needed for test readiness. We believe you and your students will find it not only effective, but truly delightful to use! Here's a delightful short video summing up the resource.
Students will be guided through the process of making inferences with this fun and engaging workbook, bursting with activities across the genres. They’ll be bulking up their “inferencing muscles” and be ready for tests, without the boring test prep!
With the Storyworks Core Skills Workout: Making Inferences you get:
- Captivating fiction, poetry, and nonfiction selections, perfectly curated to teach inference with classic children’s literature and beloved Storyworks articles
- Kid-friendly explanations to make the hows and whys of inference meaningful and easy to understand
- Dozens of fun scaffolded activities that can be used in whole-class or small-group instruction. They'll give students the practice they need to grow their skill mastery and confidence!
- Assessments in formats modeled on rigorous standardized tests, offering the perfect low-intimidation practice
- Brand-new standards-aligned Teacher’s Guide with lesson ideas, pacing guides, and an answer key. It will make planning, teaching, and grading a breeze (available for free download!).
- Tips to support every learner, with suggestions for differentiation, English language learners, writing extensions, and so much more!
- And for our Texas teachers! Additional test-prep questions modeled on the STAAR exam, plus specific TEKS and ELPS alignments!
We're excited to hear how this resource works for you in your classroom. To learn more and place an order, click here!
A Gift for Read Across America Day
Years ago, I read about a blizzard that struck America’s prairie in 1888, a frozen hurricane with swirling winds, blinding snow, and brutal cold. It came screaming down from the north and hit Dakota territory, Minnesota, Nebraska and Iowa. It became known as The Children’s Blizzard.
I was fascinated by this storm because it was really a story of westward expansion and pioneers, of the incredible hardships faced by the farmers who tried to start new lives on the prairie in the 1800s. My interest inspired me to write a Storyworks article about a real boy who survived the blizzard…and my most recent I Survived book, I Survived the Children’s Blizzard, 1888.
To celebrate Read Across America Day and the “birthday” of my latest book, I’m offering a printable version of that article, which was a teacher and student favorite when it was published back in 2008. For younger students, here is a printable version of the story as it ran in Storyworks Jr. last year. I think it is a perfect read-aloud for Read Across America Day. I know your students will be riveted by Walter’s journey, and will want to learn more about this time in history.
Join me on a virtual field trip!
As I work on my Storyworks articles and I Survived books, I’m always wishing that I could bring your students along with me on my research journeys. And finally my dream is coming true. I am writing to you to invite you and your students to join me on a “virtual field trip” to the Museum of the American Revolution, an amazing new museum in Philadelphia.
The virtual field trip, called “Beyond the Battlefield,” is a 30-minute video extravaganza in which I take kids (and teachers!) behind the scenes of the museum.
They will delve into the background of the Revolution and War of Independence. They will see historical treasures. They will meet historians and hear stories of young people — like them — who were a part of America’s fight for freedom.
Our goal is to bring this exciting and frightening time in history to life for your students, to supplement your curriculum, and to open new doors of curiosity.
It’s a great companion to my book, I Survived the American Revolution, 1776. It also pairs perfectly with my March/April article “Blood, Smoke, and Freedom” (appearing in both Storyworks and Storyworks Jr.)
The virtual field trip will be available for streaming starting on Wednesday, February 7, 2018. It's available to everyone—you don't need to be a Storyworks or Storyworks Jr. subscriber to participate!
Click here to register and you’ll receive a downloadable virtual field trip classroom kit and helpful reminders via email.
For more ideas for teaching the American Revolution, check out Top Teaching Blogger Mary Blow's fantastic post here. Her ideas are perfect for 4th grade and up, and especially for struggling older readers. Top Teaching Blogger Genia Connell also has a fantastic lesson plan to go along with the field trip here.
I can’t wait to hear what you think.
Huzzah! (That’s how they said “hooray!” in colonial times.)
How to Honor Teachers, Texas Style!
Knowing that as teachers, you aren't always properly recognized for the all-encompassing work you do, we were so blown away to hear about an amazing program to honor top teachers in a Houston, Texas-area district known as Cypress Fairbanks (Cy-Fair). We think you'll be impressed by it too—and we hope that it can be modeled in other districts throughout the country!
Once Cy-Fair's Top Teachers are identified, they are surprised with a crowning ceremony (see photos!) where they're presented with books and gifts, and they listen to their colleagues shower them with praise. Teachers never know when the next crowning ceremony will take place—these pop up throughout the year in this district made up of 56 elementary schools. (Yep, 56—this is Texas, after all!) ELAR Curriculum Coordinator Jenifer Jones describes the thinking behind the program: "It is our privelege to crown these extraordinary teachers with top honors. It is so important for our community to recognize their talent, creativity, and dedication to their craft. We know their skills have taken years to hone, and they have an enormous ability to support others in pursuit of excellence too." Emilie Manner, the 2-5 ELAR/SS curriculum coach, adds, "This is one of the great pay-it-forward programs at CFISD. I am so excited to have these dynamic new inductees as part of our program, and know they will bring us so many new ideas."
Our Storyworks/Storyworks Jr. team has begun a special relationship with CFISD. Last August we presented at their PD week, just days before Hurricane Harvey hit, and we were witness to how this incredible community pulled together in beautiful ways in the aftermath of the storm. We are so enjoying getting to know this amazing team of literacy coaches and 3rd-, 4th-, and 5th-grade teachers. Our editorial team can't wait to hear how these joyful educators are using Storyworks and Storyworks Jr. in their schools and will be sure to share some of their Genius Teacher Ideas with all of you in 2018.
If your district or school also has a special way to acknowledge teachers, please share it with us!
Taking Summarizing to a Higher Level
Here at Storyworks, we're always searching for ways to make our support offerings the best possible learning tools for your students. That's why I'm super excited to share with you our new-and-improved higher-level summarizing activity for our nonfiction and paired-text features. It's called "Quick, Tell Me What Happened!"
If you're a fan of our lower-level summarizing activity, with its handy sentence starters and prompts, don’t worry—you'll still find it with your resources. It's a great way for students to get started with this challenging skill, and it provides a model of what to include.
But for students who are ready for the next step, I wanted to create an activity that would not only get them to produce a summary, but also teach them how to apply the skill to any text. Our new format walks them through the process.
We've even included a helpful pre-writing tip: Summarize the article out loud with a partner before writing.
Our Storyworks teacher-advisers were invaluable in giving me feedback on this activity, as they do with so many of our resources. Our fabulous adviser Allie Curtis even had her 5th graders "test drive" an earlier version, leading to some smart revisions. (Those are her students in the photo above!)
My hope is that this brand-new activity will prepare students for an even more-advanced activity: a blank sheet of paper with the instruction "Write a summary." I can't wait to hear how this works in your classroom. Please let me know anytime! Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Introducing: Pacing Guides!
“Do you have a pacing guide?”
I’ll be honest. When teachers asked that question, I’d always cringe, for two reasons. Number one: we did not have a pacing guide. Number two: Creating one would be a huge undertaking. We’re a small team at Storyworks and Storyworks Jr., and with everything we’ve wanted to create for our resources, we just hadn’t had the opportunity to work on the kind of comprehensive pacing guide you deserve...
…until now! Here are our brand-new pacing guides for both Storyworks and Storyworks Jr. This is where you’ll discover how our resources can fit into your teaching calendar as you map out the rest of the year, and as you break out your plans day by day. You’ll also find the genres and skills you can expect to cover with your students, plus the differentiation, assessment, and standards information you need to create a complete, powerful, and robust schedule of lessons.
Speaking of standards, we have hot-off-the-presses documents that outline exactly how Storyworks and Storyworks Jr. align with Common Core and similar state standards. And for our Texas teachers, we’ve got documents dedicated solely to TEKS. We hope you’ll share them with your administrators. See below for links to these documents:
We can’t wait to hear how these resources work for you. Please share your feedback with us!
Help Your Students Celebrate Their Differences
Hi, teachers! We're thrilled to share with you a fantastic social-emotional learning opportunity available to all 4th grade students in the U.S. A wonderful organization called Don't Hide it, Flaunt It! (DHIFI) has teamed up with Scholastic for its National Kids Flaunt Essay Contest. DHIFI encourages kids and adults alike to celebrate—to flaunt!—what makes them different and awesome. Meg Zucker, who runs DHIFI, is a dear friend to us here at Storyworks and Storyworks Jr. We've featured her sons, Ethan and Charlie, in both Storyworks and Storyworks Jr. Meg, Ethan, and Charlie all have a condition called ectrodactyly, and they are missing most of their fingers and toes. And yet all of them have full lives, with lots of friends and lots of passions.
Our readers have responded to our articles about Ethan and Charlie in a big way! We heard from many teachers and students that these articles helped to build empathy and encouraged students to be proud of what makes them different, whether it's a visible difference like the Zuckers', an invisible difference like having a food allergy, or even a positive difference, like being a twin.
You'll find all the details about the contest here, including the essays from last year's winners. Be sure to show your students the fantastic video introducing the contest, too. The deadline to enter is November 3. We hope your students will be inspired to enter. Good luck to your students!