First and foremost, I am just trying to get students to read. I am trying to get them to find out that there are interesting things in a newspaper. Because newspaper articles are often relatively short, I want students to be able to pull out the main idea of a story and elaborate on it so I know that they understand the entire article.
Sometimes I’ll take words from an article that I think will interest the kids, and we’ll use them as vocabulary words. We’ll talk about the article and how the words are used. When we’ve finished, I take the words and put them into a word find. Then I give my students the word find with the meanings of the words below, so that they not only find the word itself, but also can match it with its meaning.
I teach lower-level students, and they need to have the ability to stick with something that is hard for them so that they feel that they are accomplishing something. If it seems like every time they’re attempting something someone is always better than they are, they’re not always going to want to put forth an effort.
Children often think that learning is supposed to be this horrible experience, and it’s not. It’s my responsibility as an educator to show students that education is supposed to be important, that it’s supposed to make our lives brighter, richer – it’s supposed to add to our lives, not detract from them. Building a child’s vocabulary and reading skills gives them greater access to the world, and it can be done using a newspaper.
Teaching to read through a newspaper is different than using a textbook. You need to use different types of sources when reading. Most of the articles are short enough so that you can do a great deal with a particular article. Some of the longer articles can be used for newspaper article presentations where kids have to pull main ideas and fine tune, paraphrase, etc.
The most beneficial aspect of using a newspaper in my classroom is that it allows students to have the opportunity to read about current events, especially those that involve government issues. I really enjoy leading discussions about government topics and how these issues affect the USA. I have the students read, for example, USA TODAY’s NEWS section, or as they call it, the “blue section,” for approximately 20 minutes. Then we discuss whichever articles they read. When I have time, I like to read the paper first and select specific government-related articles for my students to read for class discussion. I find the paper especially helpful in teaching the election process during campaign years.
In addition, the newspaper is handy for teaching about the media industry. My students evaluate different forms of media and explain how bias can occur. Then we compare examples of media bias to the paper’s usually fair, balanced coverage. They analyze the writing style of the paper’s reporters to see how they present all sides to an issue. They even cite how the headlines are balanced.