Editor's notes

More Favorite #MyStoryworksMoment Tweets!

By
Anna Starecheski

In February, we asked you to join our social media community at #MyStoryworksMoment to share your quintessential and out-of-the-box moments using Storyworks or  Storyworks Jr. in your classroom. We just love these visual connections that teachers are posting. It continues to inspire and amaze us to see your beautiful tweets, so keep them coming. Plus we love connecting with you on social media! Here are a few more of our favorites:

Not one but two awesome teachers shared pictures of their classes building real-life popsicle-stick bridges after reading our fiction story "The Popsicle-Stick Bridge" in Storyworks Jr.!

Storyworks adviser Dana Canales of Texas shared some awesome tweets about how she uses Storyworks to prep her students for STAAR assessments! We loved her idea so much that we asked her to turn it into an Ideabook post. Luckily for us, she agreed! Her post is coming soon.

Our beloved Link Ladies shared a snippet of their famous app-style learning: Their students were so excited to read about lucky charms around the world in Grammar Cop that they researched more on their own!

 

We've already showcased some of our favorite #MyStoryworksMoment tweets, and we're eager to share more with you! We can't overstate how much it makes our day to see your tweets. We're so excited to be in touch with you! Feel free to follow our editors on Twitter:

  • Lauren Tarshis, editor of Storyworks@laurenTarshis
  • Allison Friedman, associate editor of Storyworks@alli_friedman
  • Kara Corridan, editor of Storyworks Jr.@kcorridan
  • Anna Starecheski, assistant editor of Storyworks Jr.@annastarecheski
  • Rebecca Leon, education editor for Storyworks and Storyworks Jr.@RebeccaLeon12
  • Aimee Dolan, director of teacher outreach for all of our ELA mags: @Dolan_AS

Enter to Win a Test-Prep Essential!

By
Aimee Dolan

Hello, teachers! We know that testing is on your minds at this point in the year, and we want to help make your test-prep lessons as meaningful, simple, and joyful (yes, I said that!) as possible. It's a tall order but we've got an effective and delightful solution. It's Storyworks Core Skills Workout: Making Inferences, a 64-page workbook focused on one of the most difficult skills to teach. What you'll find in this uniquely designed activity book is a multigenre, scaffolded, treasure trove of test-prep goodness!

Take a look at just one way you can tackle inference:  

We're giving away a full class set of this fabulous activity book to three of you.  

All you need to do is enter using this form. As a bonus, when you enter, you'll be subscribed to the free Storyworks Ideabook newsletter, where you'll find simple and exciting ways to teach with Storyworks and Storyworks Jr.! We send out two awesome emails every month featuring Genius Teaching Ideas from your colleagues, alerts on our latest content, and amazing strategies for using our texts in your classroom.

We will randomly select three winners by March 13th, 2017. Good luck!

Our favorite #MyStoryworksMoment Tweets...So Far!

By
Anna Starecheski

Earlier this month, we asked you to join our social media community and share your special moments with Storyworks or Storyworks Jr. All I can say is WOW! It's been such a pleasure seeing your #MyStoryworksMoment tweets, sharing our own, and talking with you! Here are just a few of our favorites:

This tweet from teacher Stacy Musick seriously killed us: So adorable, and so great to see partner reading in action!

LOVE seeing Mrs. Smothers' class working on the readaloud play The Legend of King Midas from Storyworks Jr. There are definitely some future actors in that bunch!

Here's another tweet about King Midas, this time featuring the wonderful students in teacher Renee Johnson's class!

This tweet from Ideabook contributor Kristen Cruikshank made us so happy: Love seeing friends reading and learning together!

We can't overstate how much it makes our day to see your tweets. We're so excited to be in touch with you! Feel free to follow our editors on Twitter:

Use This Story to Teach SEL

By
Kara Corridan

We've been getting a great response to "What Makes Charlie Awesome?" in the February issue of Storyworks Jr., a story about a boy whose physical difference--hands with two fingers each--is by far the least remarkable thing about him. We'd hoped it would serve as a wonderful opportunity to teach acceptance and empathy, and according to the teachers we've heard from, that's exactly what it's done. If you haven't yet used the videos we've offered as learning extensions, please check them out. There's one about Charlie's older brother, Ethan, which was created for Storyworks a few years back, and one filmed last fall when I visited Charlie at his home—have gone a long way with your students. (That's me and Charlie in the photo.) You might want to share these extra facts about Charlie that didn't make it into the story, too:

1. He has no problem with public speaking. At the end of 5th grade, Charlie was asked to give a speech reflecting on how school had changed over the years for him and his classmates. ("It didn't scare me at all.") And this past January, he read an award-winning story he wrote for a Martin Luther King community event. 

2. He's a straight-A student. His favorite subjects are Spanish and Art. He describes it as "very relaxing." Math can be "very stressing" and as for Social Studies, "I don't get the best feeing." What's his impression of middle school? "Honestly, it's kind of a cool experience." 

3. When I asked Charlie to think of one thing that he wishes were different about himself, guess what he said? "I could try to make my hair look better, but that has nothing to do with my hands."

Charlie is truly a one-of-a-kind kid, and we're so glad his story has resonated with your students. Consider it Phase One of our upcoming emphasis on social-emotional learning, which we'll be focusing on in a big way in the 2017-18 school year. You'll hear lots more about this as it gets closer. But in the meantime, tell us: What SEL lessons are you incorporating into your classrooms? And what impact have they had on your students? 

Behind the Scenes: What No One Knows About Our Videos

By
Allison Friedman

If there’s one online resource our teachers can’t get enough of, it’s videos. The most consistent piece of feedback we hear about them is “more, please!”

I’ve been working on Storyworks videos for 3 years now, and can honestly say that we love producing them as much as you and your students love watching them. But believe it or not, putting together a 5-minute video is no small feat!

Here’s a quick glimpse at what went into the Behind the Scenes video for our February 2017 Nonfiction article, “Disaster in Space”:

  • 2: The number of weeks it took to make the video, from beginning to end
  • 9: The number of times we edited the script before we were happy with it
  • 400: The number of photos and video clips our eagle-eyed photo editor Larry Schwartz gathered for us to look at
  • 200: The number of astronaut photos we combed through before finding this perfect image:

  • 30: The approximate number of snacks we consumed while working on this video (and that’s a conservative estimate!)
  • 5: The number of video drafts our incredibly talented (and patient!) video editor, Seth Stein, put together before we settled on the final
  • 12,200: The number of times the video has been viewed so far

Do you have any suggestions for future Storyworks videos? Let us know in the comments!

We Love Teachers!

By
Kara Corridan

Happy Valentine's Day, teachers! You inspire us every day, and we're in constant awe of all that you do. With that in mind, here are just a few of the reasons we love you!

  1. You go the extra mile for your students. We know that you do many, many hours of extra work to ensure that your students are thriving.
  2. You help us make our resources great. We're endlessly grateful for the feedback, critiques, and suggestions you share with us. 
  3. You shape our kids' minds and hearts. It's no newsflash that children look up to their teachers. The compassion and validation you offer means everything to them. 
  4. You're a vital part of our community. We just launched a hashtag, #MyStoryworksMoment, where teachers (and members of our team) can share their moments with Storyworks and Storyworks Jr. The things you're tweeting make us SO happy! We love connecting with you any chance we get.
  5. You're incredibly creative. At least once a week we meet a teacher who is imparting a lesson in a way that is so original and unique and important, and with such love.

We could go on and on...really. Please feel free to share what you love about teaching OR your favorite teachers and colleagues in the comments. Happy Valentine's Day from all of us at Storyworks and Storyworks Jr.!

Share Your #MyStoryworksMoment with Us!

By
Anna Starecheski

Hello, teachers! In addition to my work as assistant editor of Storyworks Jr., I also coordinate social media for all of our wonderful ELA classroom magazines. One of my favorite things to do is to simply search #Storyworks and #StoryworksJr on Twitter. Nothing makes our day more than seeing a tweet from a teacher who has had a classroom success, or wants to share her students interacting with our resourcesWe realized that you're all tweeting, pinning, and Facebooking moments like this regularly, and not only do we want to see them all, we want you to see each other's! And thus, #MyStoryworksMoment was born.

We want to see your students' reactions when they crack open a new issue!

Yes, we even want to see you planning lessons!

Because we can't throw that giant Storyworks house party we've been dreaming up, we hope that we can stay connected with each other by sharing our collective moments in our newly launched #MyStoryworksMoment hashtag. We'll share our own Storyworks moments with you too, so we hope you'll join us!

(Don't worry about putting a fancy schmancy border on yours: Simply snap a pic and post it! Just be sure to use the hashtag so we can see it!)

We'll share our own, too: Here are Storyworks editors Rebecca Leon and Allison Friedman, hard at work on activity sheets!

Check out the hashtag #MyStoryworksMoment on Twitter, Pinterest, and Facebook, and share your own moments! We'll be featuring our favorite classroom pics every week, and hosting Skypes this spring with winners chosen at random. We can't wait to see how you've captured the joy of learning with all of your amazing students.

Celebrate Black History Month With These Editor's Picks!

In honor of Martin Luther King Day on January 16, and Black History Month in February, we want to highlight some of our favorite Civil Rights-related Storyworks and Storyworks Jr. content from past and present. (Here's your friendly reminder that with a subscription, you can access our archives, with contain many gems like these!) Most of what I’m recommending are plays, which gives your students the chance to step into the shoes of some of the most important figures in this movement.  


For Storyworks Jr. Subscribers:

The Day Mrs. Parks Was Arrested

This month in Storyworks Jr. we’ve got an incredible play about Rosa Parks, whose story features the young preacher Martin Luther King Jr. Make sure to check out our vocabulary slideshow and special Time Machine video, which gives students historical and cultural context by taking them back to the 1950s. Featured skill: cause and effect
NOTE: If you’re a Storyworks subscriber, you can check out a higher-level version of the play that we published a few years back!

 

For Storyworks subscribers:

The Unstoppable Ruby Bridges

Be sure to check out our latest Storyworks play about a brave 6-year-old who helped lead the way to school integration. While you’re poking around our resources, make sure to check out the vocabulary slideshow which can help introduce your students to the Civil Rights vocabulary they’ll encounter in the play. Featured skill: theme

 

Sitting Down for Mr. King

In this Civil Rights-era play, students learn about the Woolworth’s lunch counter sit-ins in Greensboro, North Carolina, and how four brave students inspired thousands to “sit down” for equality. Featured skill: how character changes

 

The Daring Escape of Henry Box Brown

This play isn’t directly related to MLK or the civil rights movement of the 20th century, but it has important lessons about our country’s treatment of African Americans. It tells the story of Henry Brown, and the unusual risk he took to escape slavery. Featured skill: inference

 

”Up From Slavery”

This nonfiction article tells the inspiring story of Booker T. Washington, a man who relentlessly pursued an education for himself and other former slaves. The article includes background information about the horrendous conditions of slavery and offers a video about the troubled times Booker lived through, including the Civil War and the difficult Reconstruction era. Featured skill: character traits

 

We hope you find these resources useful. Let us know how you use them in the classroom by commenting below, or emailing me directly at nkouri@scholastic.com.

A Free Storyworks Play: Our Gift to You!

By
Kara Corridan

I'm closing in on my first year as editor of Storyworks Jr., and with the holidays upon us, I'm reflecting on everything I'm grateful for. High on the list is connecting with so many of you who bend over backwards to make learning fun and meaningful for your students. What you do every day, often amid challenging circumstances and shrinking resources, inspires all of us here. As a thank you, we're giving you one of my favorite stories from the Storyworks archives.

 

When I joined the team and dove into the more than 20 years' worth of nonfiction, fiction, plays, debates, poetry, and grammar exercises that have been published in Storyworks, I was blown away by the richness and relevance of the material. And I was slightly embarrassed by how much I was learning. How did I not know there was a deadly molasses flood in Boston nearly 100 years ago? Or that dozens of children died in a freak blizzard in the Great Plains in 1888? (We adapted that story for Storyworks Jr. in our October/November 2016 issue.) 

 

But what really grabbed me was a read-aloud play called "The Daring Escape of Henry Box Brown," originally published in Storyworks more than 15 years ago, and more recently in the January 2016 issue. It's the downright riveting story of a man named Henry Brown who is so desparate to escape slavery in Virginia in 1848 that he gets packed in a crate and shipped to Philadelphia. Henry Brown was in that crate for 27 hours, with only a bottle of water to sustain him, before -- no, I won't give away the ending. We're breaking through the Storyworks paywall and giving this play to all of our Ideabook readers. You can read about Henry Box Brown for yourself, and more to the point, you can share his unforgettable story with your students. It's a powerful way to teach about American history, particularly slavery, and to focus on inference, character, and main idea. Please let me know what your class thinks of it! You can comment below, or email me directly at KCorridan@scholastic.com. 

 

From all of us at Storyworks and Storyworks Jr., we wish you a wonderful, peaceful holiday season!

Writing Contests: 8 Ways Your Students Might Win!

Looking for more ways to have your students test their writing chops? Direct them towards Storyworkscontests! Interested in giving them a chance at the prize? These 8 tricks will definitely increase your chance of winning. Note: Storyworks Jr. has contests too! Look for the prompts at the end of every nonfiction feature (pictured below) and encourage your students to enter!

 

  1. Follow the rules. It sounds simple, but so many entries we receive get disqualified right off the bat because they are sent in after deadline, lack the requested contact information, or don’t answer all aspects of the writing prompt. Regardless of who made the error (be it a student, parent, or teacher), if an entry is to be considered, it must follow all the rules listed on the contest activity sheet.
  2. Make it legible. If we can’t read it, we can’t judge it. Encourage students to type up their entry if you suspect that their handwriting may be difficult to interpret. (Did you know we accept emailed entries?)
  3. Keep it organized. If you are sending in a class set of contest submissions, make sure the contact information from our contest form is clearly marked on each entry. Hunting around for loose or missing parts of submission does not bode well for its winning status.
  4. Make your Google Doc public. You have no idea how many emailed entries we want to read…but can’t. Remember to make your entry viewable to anyone with the link. We can’t open your submission unless you give us permission.
  5. Wake us up. Too often, I have to nudge snoring contest judges Anny and Viv because they’ve fallen asleep from reading the same essay over and over and over and over again. (An exaggeration…but you get the picture.) Make sure the entry is full of pizazz, energy, passion, and your student’s particular voice.
  6. Relate to your experiences. We always love a submission that answers the question while relating back to the student’s world. Has the student ever experienced anything like the characters or people he is writing about? How would he feel if he were in their shoes? We award brownie points for answering the question while seamlessly tying in anecdotal life experiences.
  7. Cite text evidence. Whenever applicable, have your students cite their sources (which for most cases…this means us). Call us vain, but we adore it when students say things like, “In the Storyworks article ‘Black Sunday,’ Lauren Tarshis claims [insert supporting detail here].” It makes our citation-happy-hearts soar. We love it when students use supporting text evidence, and we love it even more when they cite their source.
  8. Proofread. Check for spelling and grammar mistakes while making sure the entry flows. Perhaps have your students revise each other’s work. Just please don’t let them scribble something out and send it to us without giving it a second thought. Put some care into the entry. This certainly means more than one go-through.

 

Best of luck! And as we say to our winners, “Keep on reading and writing!”