By Cynthia Peters
Looking for engaging, relevant content that you can teach in the remote classroom? The Change Agent publishes powerful writing authored by adult students, with learning activities to accompany each article. We now offer our content in media-rich digital formats. This shift, due to the pandemic and the demand for digital content across the communities we serve, will make our materials even more conducive for use in distance learning.
One Story. Three Formats. All Free.
The Change Agent has always published articles relevant and engaging for adult learners. Take, for example, this piece by a Rhode Island student writing featured in the recent “Pandemic” issue. Though written at a very accessible, intermediate level, the author conveys the complex tension felt by most learners today – a tension between the catastrophic nature of the pandemic and the ways that the crisis has brought us together.
She writes that the pandemic makes her feel like “we are in a war,” yet goes on to describe how she and her husband found an opportunity to “laugh and be joyful.” She shares the example of a time her husband asked her to cut his hair. She watched some tutorials on youtube and then sat her husband on a stool in the bathtub where he got his first pandemic haircut. And then she wrote it up for The Change Agent! It’s called “Pandemic Haircut,” and it’s available to you to use in the classroom in three different ways:
- PDF — print it out and mail it to your students or make it possible for them to pick it up, along with other classroom materials. Students are doing so much online, it helps to have articles they can read on paper, too, so they can add their own notations and rest their eyes from the screen.
- Google slides — To make it easy for you to adapt this article for the online classroom, we took the PDF and created a Google Slides version of it. You have permission to adapt it as needed by either making a copy of it in Google (which you can do if you have a Google account) or downloading it into Powerpoint. We just ask that you not change the author’s words. Other than that, feel free to add your own activities or adapt ours.
- Audio — Many of our articles are available in audio. Learners can listen to the text read out loud while they follow along. Hearing someone else read the text aids comprehension, teaches pronunciation, increases fluency, and even teaches punctuation because students learn what periods, commas, etc. “sound” like.
More Change Agent resources you can try out in your classroom right away:
- Lesson Packets — We now have 25 lesson packets — Change Agent articles grouped around a lesson and a set of activities. Most of these are PDFs. The last three have Google slides versions!
- Give Virtual Lessons with Google Slideshows — The Google slideshow versions of our lesson packets are incredibly powerful and ready-to-use teaching tools. We now have three of them, and there is more to come. They contain easy-to-read versions of selected articles with engaging images and graphics, highlighted vocabulary, online quizzes, and more. As a teacher, you can make copies of these Google slides or download them into the Powerpoint and then adapt them in any way they like, e.g., supplement our activities with your own, embed quizzes, link to videos, give students access so they can add their own comments. One example: our lesson on Voter Suppression vs Fraud, which provides the important civic opportunity for students to understand and evaluate claims about election fraud.
- Use Levelled Audio Versions of Text — This global index of articles is sortable by LEVEL. Once you have an online subscription, which costs $30 per teacher per year, teachers can share their username and password with all their students. Accessing this index, students can start at the level they feel comfortable and watch themselves progress to higher and higher levels. Use Lesson Packet #18 (designed for summer reading, but good anytime) to give students a way to track their progress. Audio adds to students’ reading comprehension and fluency, and it gives them the opportunity to pause and practice reading the text out loud after listening to a segment as many times as they like. Audio even gives students an intuitive understanding of punctuation because it teaches what commas, periods, question marks, etc. “sound” like.
More Supports for Teachers:
To help guide your teaching, we offer this video library with short tutorials on other ways to use the magazine to teach. And check out these two previous EdTech posts about The Change Agent: Converting a Lesson to Integrate Technology and Using Online Audio Articles. Remember, once you have an online subscription to The Change Agent, you (and your students!) will be able to access all our back issues and all our audio.