Build-A-Magazine

This semester in READ 6310, students were asked to contribute one post to our blog.

by I. Martinez

 Magazines remind me of picture books, because like picture books, magazines arouse my curiosity and creativity with their bold, unabashed display of colors and images. And well, magazines are that seemingly noncommittal form of literature that only require that I sit back, relax and soak in the view. It’s sort of like window shopping; I get to survey all of my points of interest before zeroing in on a topic that I want to read about, and maybe later I’ll pursue it at greater depth. Magazines are those beautiful works of art that you find strewn across coffee tables at doctor’s offices that quickly become worn and torn from so much reading and from having some of their pages donated.  And by “donated”, I mean that some of its pages were torn out by a patron who just couldn’t do without a recipe, or a “how-to” solution. Aw, c’mon, ‘fess-up! Haven’t you ever looked guiltily from side to side before quietly tearing out a magazine page and quickly tucking it away in your purse? Yep, most of us have because we can’t bear the thought of saying goodbye to that page(s). Well, good news, you can now create your own magazines and keep them too! And you can even share them without losing pages!

Flipboard, which is an iPad app, and an Android app on Google Play, is my latest rave, and I think it will be yours too, especially if you work with high school students. With this wonderful app, hesitant high school readers can see a whole other side to reading by actively creating their own magazine which they can then share with their classmates through email, or share with the world at large by permitting public viewing, and by the way, if the student becomes a master of magazine production, then other account holders may wish to “subscribe” to his published creations on Flipboard.

Flipboard is a free “build-a-magazine” app with free membership that contains free social media news for its readers. Once you are given an account, you can pick out a few topics that are of interest to you and then simply select articles from within those topics and add them to your magazine, and voila!, you have your own tailored magazine.

Let’s say for example that I decided to create a magazine about books. Well, I could entitle my magazine “A Book Worm’s Corner” then go to the topic “Books” and begin adding individual stand alone articles to my own magazine, or I could also subscribe to one of the magazines listed within “Books”, and pick articles from within those magazines to “cut out” and also add to my own magazine. In my case, I subscribe to “book writers & coffee tea corner” by Danielle Szynkarski, and from it, I can pull out articles, poems, graphics and arrange them into my own magazine. Then I can proceed to search the rest of the literature included within the “Books” topic and add in some reviews of current adult books, and perhaps add in a section about movies based on books, like the LIFE of PI. After that, I can move on to my next interest and create another magazine. I also have the freedom to decide if I want to share my magazines or keep them private.

Currently, the available topics within Flipboard are: News, Business, Tech & Science, Sports, Photos & Design, Arts & Culture, Living, Food & Dining, Travel, Style, Music, Books, and City Guides, plus of course all the created magazines by account members. Of course, teachers should preview all of these topic sections for appropriateness, and may want to exclude one or more sections of the available topics. But, overall, this app is very reader friendly and I think teenagers will spend hours reading the articles as they leaf through and pick out items to include in their tailor-made magazines.

In the classroom, this magazine creation activity could function as an ice breaker at the beginning of the school year, because each magazine would be an original that would reveal the interests of it’s creator. Or, it could also be an assignment of the teacher’s choosing to focus on differing topics, like science or sports, or it could be an ongoing class project whereby the class produces a magazine for the entire school to view each week. That would definitely bring out the “journalist” in many of students, because they would undoubtedly take pride in their contributions to the school’s website. The wonderful thing about Flipboard is that its news and contributions are always new, as are the cover stories.

I also believe that elementary and middle school teachers could make use of this app by creating a monthly magazine for parents and children. It would just take a few quick clicks to create it and send it out by email or by posting it on the teacher’s (school’s) website for easy viewing. Many parents won’t be able to resist leafing through the magazines and discussing the subject matter with their children. Unfortunately, at present, Flipboard does not offer any news or magazines in Spanish, although the company says that they are considering this possibility. If enough people request it, it just might happen. You may also wish to visit their website at: flipboard.com

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