NEWSPAPERS IN THE CLASSROOM

Key Words: Instructional Strategies, General info., K-6

For many students, the only mental association they have with daily newspaper is that they are "boring" and "for old people," save the comic strips and occasional classified ads search. Oftentimes, the only contact reluctant high schoolers have with this medium is through the current events option for their social studies requirement for graduation. Why not start students' becoming familiar with the newspaper at at younger age, so that this necessary news source is viewed less as an oversized behemoth later?

Becoming familiar with a newspaper can start as early as kindergarten for most students. The newspaper is good for more than just news! It's a wonderful item with which to conduct a scavenger hunt. You can give each child a single page or even a part of a page and a highlighter. The students highlight the letter of the week or simple words you are working on such as "the" or "and." Or, you can have students look for numbers representing different things - sports scores, the temperature, height, weight, amounts in a recipe, a number in words, the biggest number they can find, smallest, a number less than 1, a price, size, the year, etc.

Students can also have different colored crayons or colored pencils. Using these, they hunt for and mark different parts of sentences or different types of words. They can mark compound words in green, contractions in red, pronouns in yellow, etc. This idea can easily be modified for whatever you are teaching. Children can look for the names of states, different color words, vocabulary or spelling words, different cities, etc.

Collect comic strips for one week and remove the words in the text bubbles. Have your students write a new text sequence for the characters. Varying the type of comic will produce different results, or you can give each student the same comic with the first bubble filled in by you. Share results towards the end of the period. It's amazing the creativity children will display when they are having fun!

Cut out fitting articles from "Dear Abby" (or any advice column) and leave out the columnist's response. Have your students help write appropriate answers. Discuss the desire to seek advice from peers or "the experts." You could even look into the possibility of starting your own advice column for the entire grade or school.

This is an idea good for all grade levels: Cut out various ads from different sections of the paper, or even different types of newspapers (The New York Times and The National Enquirer, for example). Compare the sizes of the ads. Compare ad prices, if you can get ahold of them. Do some ads make more sense than others? Can you tell the intended audience the ads are targeting? What kinds of people would read the ads or buy the items advertised? You can even get into a discussion on ethics, if you can find controversial ads. (This will be difficult to do in your local newspaper. However, if you procure an ad in a very liberal or conservative publication, you should be able to find something fairly easily.) Are the ads ethical? Are they appealing to the students? Why or why not? Who does the ad target or alienate? Do any included facts make the ad more reliable? How misleading are the "facts" quoted in the ad? Do you believe what the ad is telling you?

Newspapers are also a great help in aiding math teachers. There are usually an assortment of graphic representations of data, like circle graphs, bar graphs, line graphs, pictographs, etc. Sunday papers seem to work best for this. Teachers can send home a weekend assignment to look for as many different types of graphs as they can in one publication. (Pay special attention to those students whose families may not have subscriptions to any newspapers. Have plenty of extra newspapers on hand to give out after class if necessary.)

Have students keep a journal of editorials clipped from a newspaper. You can devote class time to the completion of writing about one article per week, or make it homework and devote class time to presentations. The journals can include a brief summary of what the editorial is about, a listing of five facts in the article and five opinions, why the article appealed to the student, or the student's take on that issue. To modify this to be a long-term assignment, simply have the students pick a topic and find a total of five articles about that topic throughout the grading period. Then, have them keep a journal summarizing what is taking place with the issue. Included articles can include the editorials, factual articles about the issue, etc.

There are even books and programs available to help teachers develop lesson plans. One book, "Fundamentals for Elementary Students: teaching Basic Competencies to Address Educational Objectives," by Caroll Jordan Hatcher, contains lesson plans in language arts, math, science, and social studies for grades K/1, 2/3, and 4/5. The plans are general enough to be used with any issue of any newspaper. The publisher is CJHatcher and Associates, Inc., Chester Springs, Pennsylvania 19425.

Finding worth in a newspaper is easy for those of us who are interested in what is deemed "newsworthy" by the press. However, if you start children out by letting them become familiar with some of the things a newspaper has to offer, they will be more comfortable using it for different types of information later. (Thank you to those who contributed to this article: pbrittle@coastalnet.com, mesmith@dtc.net, wschwab@MEM.po.com, kaaugust@students.wisc.edu, cdmorris@mail.wf.net)

Uploaded by: Jodi Gray/KSU/Deaf Education Major