Back Monday 5 Nov 2018 11:11 am

Making the most of emagazine

As more and more schools and colleges subscribe to emagazine, we’re keen to share with you ways of getting the most out of it for your students. This blog offers a flavour of how some teachers and librarians are using it, followed by ten simple suggestions you can try out straightaway.
main image for blog post 'Making the most of emagazine'

We’ve been delighted to see emagazine going from strength to strength since we first took it over in September 2001. Subscriptions and re-subscriptions have been strong and the magazine has been garnering lots of accolades from teachers, academics, writers, students and ex-students. We’re aware that some schools make a huge amount of use of their subscription, both the print magazine and the website, with its vast archive of articles. (If you don't already subscribe, have a look on our website for details.

We want to share with you here some teachers’ experiences and their ways of using what’s on offer to really enhance their students’ experience of English subjects. Here are accounts from three institutions who make enthusiastic use of the magazine. The words are those of the teachers and a librarian, followed by a list of suggested ways of using emagazine and the website in the classroom.

First, Jenny Stevens, teacher at Godolphin and Latymer School and co-author of Essential Shakespeare: The Arden Guide to Text and Interpretation on some of her favourite things about the magazine:

emagazine has long been our go-to research resource for sixth-form English. We love how articles never dwell on assessment objectives, at the same time as providing plenty to help us meet them. With mocks looming, our Year 13 literature students set about searching the online archive for pieces that would revitalize their readings of the exam texts. We’re now much better informed about food imagery in The Merchant’s Tale and ghosts in Webster’s drama, and Professor Emma Smith’s discussion of whether Shakespearean comedy is conservative or transgressive has livened up our thinking about Twelfth Night no end.

Equally invaluable for English Language students, emagazine offers articles on every course topic. These range from the most recent research into Child Language Acquisition to looking at the latest additions to the English lexicon, from advice on how to write a persuasive opinion article or suggesting useful starting points for discussion about regional and social variation. And delving into the archive uncovers such delights as a piece investigating words denoting illness over the years – an area currently on trend in applied linguistics research.

emagazine provides an unfailingly reliable source of stimulating reading: erudite, accessible – and always thought-provoking. We’re especially grateful to our wonderful librarians for allowing us to riffle through back copies and enjoy the wonderful illustrations!

George Norton, teacher in charge of English Literature at Paston College, North Norfolk says:

There’s nothing quite like emag. It’s full of provocative, dynamic and wonderfully unstuffy articles on all aspects of the subject, aimed specifically at A-Level learners. In every issue, there’s something of relevance to my students: exciting discussions of our set texts, revealing explorations of literary concepts, helpful input from examiners, and articles which remind them of the significance of the language happening all around them (a brilliant deconstruction of Donald Trump’s inauguration address or the fascinating analysis of the changing language of school reports are just two recent examples).

The availability of all this material (plus loads of extras) in an easy-to-search, on-line archive, accessible from any device with the requisite pass-word, has become essential to my students when they undertake research for coursework or seek out critical opinions to evaluate as part of exam preparation. It’s also a vital resource for me when I’m preparing a new text. Our emag subscription is the best money I spend every year; its positive impact on our results is undeniable.

Rebecca Hill, LRC Librarian, Learning Resources Manager & Literacy Champion at Huddersfield New College told us:

As College Librarian it is vitally important that we introduce students to studying, learning and researching with more than just books, such as journals and subject relevant magazines. emagazine is one of 20 journals and magazines we provide for students to use and is one of a few titles that provides an online archive too. This enables more students to utilise the valuable and suitable content in each month’s issue and more.

We display emagazine alongside all our subject publications and often list it as part of our induction tours for all English A-level classes. We also ensure that staff have copies of the login details for the online archive via an emagazine branded promotional poster which they place on noticeboards outside and inside the classrooms. Following this we have designed our VLE page to give quick and easy access to the emagazine archive with its own independent and very visible section on the page, so students don’t have to click too many times to find the link or scroll through the entire list of online resources.

Here’s what HNC’s Head of English, Lorraine Globe says about how she uses emagazine with students:

On the English Language and Literature Combined course, emagazine is an excellent resource for helping students with their independent research. We promote the use of the online archive by demonstrating how to search for relevant articles to add depth to their understanding of their chosen writer or genre for the Y13 NEA project. It is also a  valuable resource for helping us to engage students with evaluating the reliability of secondary sources.

Ten simple ways to use emagazine in the classroom

  1. Simplest of all – take the new issue into the classroom. Point out which articles might be of particular interest. Say something about one that you read and liked, and what you took away from it.
  2. Show students the website and how it works. For a homework, ask them to browse the latest issue and pick out one idea or insight drawn from the current issue. It might be:
    •  a short extract that they particularly liked
    • an article that they thought was particularly well written and why
    • an idea about literature or language that they’d not encountered before
    • a question raised by an article that they’d like to discuss
    • something about a text they’re studying that they want to share with the class.
  3. Show students how the archive search works. Tell them roughly how many articles there are on the text they are currently studying/revising. Ask them to go through and pick one that takes their interest (or allocate articles to different students) and ask them to read the piece and come back and present a few key ideas to the rest of the class.
  4. Photocopy an article or more than one article on the text or topic being studied. Bring them into the classroom. Read the article(s) together and pick out any particularly interesting ideas to discuss. (You could ask them to select 3 short quotations that you think express the most interesting ideas in the piece.)
  5. When studying the novel, drama, Shakespeare, poetry, and some set texts and  language topics, start lessons with an emagclip or two, to provoke discussion, or clarify an aspect of the text. For instance, for any novel, Professor John Mullan’s clips on voice, point of view and so on are very useful introductions to the key concepts.
  6. Pick emag articles that you think are particularly well written. Share them with your students, focusing less on the text or topic and more on what makes them specially good examples of writing in the subject. Use them as models to unpack the kind of elements in great writing.
  7. Make students aware of the thousands of articles in the archive, when they come to do their Non-Examined Assessment. emag articles can support them in their individual choice of topic, can give them fuel to develop their thinking and can provide critical comment to refer to, to illuminate the texts and provide research references.
  8. Keep a look out for the emagazine writing competitions and strongly encourage your students to enter. There are currently two annual competitions – the Close Reading competition and the Forward/emagazine Student Critics Competition.
  9. Suggest that your most committed writers consider putting in a submission to be published in emagazine. We have a long history of including excellent student pieces in the magazine. Many of those student writers have gone on to study English at university, and have continued to write for us as undergraduates, or postgraduates.
  10. Look out for the emagplus pieces, which don’t appear in the magazine but are additional web resources that are of equal value and interest. For instance, sometimes an emagazine article might have a companion piece in emagplus. One example is Barbara Bleiman’s commentary on her own critical piece on an unseen text (an extract from Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle) in emag 80 April 2018 which unpicks the thinking and the process, including decisions about how to include contextual comment and references to wider reading.

And don’t forget the poster that you can download from emagazine website, to put all the login details up on classroom walls. This allows you, your students and everyone in your department to access the website and browse the archive from wherever you and they are!

With thanks to Taryn Everdeen for the lovely headline image from Paston College.

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