Pros: An interesting magazine with great ideas for those instructing elementary children.
Cons: Although I adapt many of the lessons, more for middle school ages would be nice.
I first was introduced to Instructor Magazine when I began taking professional courses in college for teaching. Since part of the professional program includes many projects, ideas, and hands on activity developments, I found Instructor to be an invaluable source of ideas. Instructor Magazine is published by Scholastic 8 times a year. You can get a subscription for $9.95 a year by using the card found inside the magazine or you can go to their website and purchase it for $9.99. Its not always available in store magazine racks but when you find it there, the price is $3.00 an issue. I believe when I first subscribed (about 12 years ago) that they had monthly issues except for the summer months. They now combine a couple of months a year (my example copy for instance is Nov/Dec 2001).
I would like to state that although the target audience would be elementary teachers, these magazines have a lot of articles that would keep parents abreast of educational trends. If you home school, once again Id recommend this magazine because there are so many great activities to enforce concepts and the ideas are for all areas of academic subjects. I teach middle school so therefore am not part of the targeted audience but I find that it also keeps me up with new concepts in education and that the activities it offers can usually be adapted easily for older students.
One of the reasons I stopped subscribing about 10 years ago was that almost every issue had become totally tech/computer orientated. Although technology is extremely important, I missed the hands on and informative teacher to teacher sharing information. I also felt that they were slighting the importance of conceptual learning in the major academic areas. But, about two years ago, I got a super deal on a subscription and since Im more technically savvy now than I was ten years ago and because it only cost me $5.99 to try it again, I subscribed once more. Im glad I did. The emphasis has switched back and the concepts are evenly distributed.
In every issue you can find:
Technology Showcase which gives you some examples of websites that provide interesting information. Its entitled, Websitings, and each month has a theme. These sites are loaded with lessons, activities and primary sources for each theme. An example would be Native Americans where there are listings about American Indians and the natural world, Native American craft unit, and Native American Women. They also have Teachers classifieds and Teachers Shopping Center.
Each month, in the middle of the magazine, is a famous art print called, Instructors Masterpiece of the Month. This is easily removed and opens up into a poster about 24 x24. Along with this feature is an explanation of the painting and information about the artist.
Also each month, on the last page of the magazine, is a feature called, Telling My Story. This is where teachers across America can send in their story and get it published. It usually has to do with situational issues and how this person handled it or prevailed.
An example of a typical months offerings would be Time Travel With Primary Sources which describes how to use authentic documents and artifacts to make history and literature come alive for students. There is an article about a new concept called, Think Alouds. Think alouds are a strategy to boost reading comprehension. (Its a recycled concept with a new name.)
There are some very helpful articles found in the Electronic Learning section. One of my favorite things to do is to find and/or create Web Quests. This section offers some ideas on improving these each month.
There are monthly columns such as: Instructor Meets the Standards (where they tell you what national standards are supported by each issue.) Editors Note and Letters to the Editor columns are often very helpful as readers often offer better advice on issues as they talk about the issues presented in previous copies of the magazine.
I also like that each issue carries a calendar. On the calendar are important things that have happened on that date in the past; important events and holidays for the current month; or a quick lesson that you could use for that day.
There is also a feature called, Book Talk. This section gives a summary of new books that are published for children.
Advertisements are at a minimum and most target teachers as their intended reader. Franklin Spellers, Disney, and Curriculum Associates are examples. I actually had to search to find these examples. There are also a few financial institutions advertising their products to garner your retirement planning and dollars.
To give you an idea of the kinds of featured articles you might find in an issue, Ill name a few from the last couple of issues I have.
Theme Unit: Owls
Building Kids Money Skills
Poetry Workshop & Poster
Put to The Test: Which discusses standardized test taking and some of the strategies that experienced teachers use to prepare for them.
Myths About Spelling, which is an article I totally disagreed with since it emphasis invented spelling.
Stop the Violence which is written by an M.D. and who advises on six core strengths for teachers to help children develop that will act as to deter bullying and other kinds of violence.
These are just a few of the many fine articles that enhance student learning and that help teachers stay current with new teaching and curriculum ideas and information. I definitely recommend this magazine.