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Teacher Tips for Using Magazines in the Classroom for Research

By Trent Lorcher

There's more to reading a magazine than looking at the pictures. Teach your students what they can do with this research lesson plan.

Before dragging your students to the library for an hour of dodging the teacher, pretending to do research while checking out pictures of hot girls on the Internet, and hiding behind a stack of outdated science books while sending a text message about an upcoming party, bring the library to them by using this "magazines in the classroom" research lesson plan.

Before they begin reading, however, share with them important research tips on how to evaluate a magazine article. If done correctly, they'll be reading intently while you dodge administrators, pretend to do research while checking out March Madness on the Internet, and send text messages to your brother about the big game.

Research Tips: Evaluating an Argument

Have students copy and/or discuss the following information:

  • An effective argument does the following:
    1. demonstrates a grasp of the issue(s).
    2. shows concern about a problem.
    3. possesses a respectful attitude to the audience, regardless of position.
    4. establishes and maintains credibility or believability.
  • The reader should
    1. Identify the article or article section's main idea. A good writer will appeal to logic and emotion to make the point. As you read, determine the main idea and ask whether or not you agree with it.
    2. Look for supporting details. A writer must provide evidence -- statistics, facts, and examples -- and logic. Always question the factual credibility of the information. Look for information bias.
    3. Look for details. In addition to evidence, writers use details for a specific purpose -- persuade, explain, or entertain.
    4. Evaluate credibility. Assess the author's motivation, credentials, strengths, and weaknesses.

Research Lesson Plan: Using Magazines in the Classroom Assignment

Just presenting the information without providing practice will help nobody. Try the following assignment.

  1. Have students read a magazine article. It can be one you choose for the entire class or each student can choose one of his own.
  2. Assign the following questions based on the information they've copied:
    • What is the main idea of the article (section)?
    • Do you agree with the main idea?
    • List five supporting details.
    • Describe the author's reasoning.
    • Who is the author?
    • What are her credentials?
    • What is the author's motivation for writing the article?
    • Is the information biased?
    • What is the article's strengths? weaknesses?
  3. Turn the answers into an article analysis. The topic sentence should indicate whether or not the article is appropriate for research. The supporting details should address the above questions.