Anything in the news that involves choices – what you buy, what you eat, even going to the movies – is about making choices. Economics is really about people making choices – not merely about making money. The definition of economics is the “science of choice.”
Most importantly, I want my students to know that when you make a choice, you give up something else. For example, when you purchase something, you have to give up money or another product or activity because of your choice.
I like USA TODAY’s features on lifestyles and food in the newspaper’s LIFE section, and the entire SPORTS section because they highlight stories involving choices that children are interested in. The stories on food involve making several choices to determine how much it costs to create a meal.
The lifestyle material is effective because we can talk about, for example, which movies they like. We read the reviews and compare them to other opinions, or write our own reviews. We also discuss why kids and adults like different movies.
Generally, I have the students go through the paper and I direct them to most significant articles featured that day. Many students are not current events motivated, and so I use the paper to motivate them and pique their curiosity. For example, today there was a story about missile defense that we found interesting. We delved into the physics of it and what it means to fire a bullet into the air.
I also like having students go to the Nationline page and the Across the USA page that highlights stories around the country. I have students work together to find the most remarkable, oddest or funniest story they can. For example, several years ago, a truck flipped over on a highway in Oklahoma, and the story gave detail about the mess it created.
When I teach, I try to highlight all of the sections, especially News because that is a part of the paper the kids won’t naturally go to. Boys always want to go to Sports and girls to Life. I peruse the paper and identify the important articles and then share them with my students. After, I hold a teacher-directed discussion, and then I let engage in free reading.
The students will invariably go to the state by state page to scan and find a story. But what they don’t realize is that they’re reading to learn. What I really like about using USA TODAY is that the kids are reading the paper and learning about current events but they don’t really know it. I enjoy the fact that the learning is fun for them.
I am trying to increase my students’ awareness of the world around them. I also want to enhance their reading and writing skills and make sure that they gain an appreciation for a newspaper