Hey, this little series, “Get Your Students to Love the News,” is becoming a real thing! Today is the sixth installment. When you have time, be sure to check out the other posts, too.
A few posts ago, I emphasized that when it comes to reading the news, there’s nothing like the real thing: an old-fashioned newspaper or magazine, preferably in print (though that’s not a requirement).
But this is not exactly easy to make happen.
Reason #1: It’s expensive. Let’s say I get a class set of The New York Times in print, weekdays only, from September through May. That’s $3.50 a week, 35 weeks, 25 students, or $3,062.50. Impossible.
Reason #2: That’s a lot of paper to recycle! Unfortunately, most newspapers won’t deliver just once a week. A good alternative would be to try a weekly newsmagazine, like Time. But it’s still not cheap. Twenty-five copies at $35 a year runs you $875.
Reason #3: Newspapers and magazines might be too hard for struggling ninth graders to read. Sure, we should challenge them (with individual articles that we find), but it’s also a great feeling for students to be able to read on their own.
Despite all those reasons to give up on print periodicals, please don’t! I have a great solution for you. It’s called The New York Times Upfront.
A Scholastic publication, Upfront takes real articles from The New York Times, modifies them for middle- and high-school readers, and reassembles them in a tidy and colorful magazine format.
What’s also great is that Upfront comes out 14 times a year. That’s a good number of issues. Not too many, not too few.
The articles are done well. Let’s take a look! Here’s one from January after the death of Nelson Mandela.
Also, Upfront is affordable. A class set of 25 copies will cost you $275 for the year. That’s a doable price.
One of my esteemed colleagues in San Francisco, Marni Spitz, is using Upfront this year with her ninth graders. She’s an excellent Global Studies teacher who believes deeply in the power of reading. Marni loves Upfront!
To be sure, Upfront is not perfect. I want to get my students — even the really struggling ninth graders — to the real version of The New York Times as soon as possible. And I do! But until that happens, Upfront is an excellent scaffold, a great way for students to find success.
If you’ve used Upfront in your classroom, please let me know what you think! You know it’ll be enjoyable.