Recently I read an article on monuments in the USA and how Americans have become engrossed in monument building. I had my students design monuments that would be good on our school’s campus. They drew pictures of their monuments and then wrote dedications to the school. They used reading skills to read the article and writing skills to create the dedication.
I also have my students write a weekly journal. In a recent editorial in a newspaper, the debate was about starting the school day later. This couldn’t have appeared in the paper at a better time because we were discussing study skills and learning styles. I had the kids write in their journals their opinions on starting school later.
Another uncanny link was the science section article about the peregrine falcon. We had just done a unit on animal survival. In terms of tying a newspaper into my math class, about three weeks ago, there was an article on the median income in the USA. The article lent itself to teach the students all about median and what it means. The children were amazed at the poverty level in the USA.
I teach a Current Events class with a different media resource each day. One day per week I use USA TODAY. On that day, I serve my class coffee and donuts, and we read the paper like we are sitting at our breakfast tables.
I like for them to do an exercise in which they do both a writing activity and a visual-spatial activity using current events from USA TODAY. For instance, they create a political cartoon or a USA SNAPSHOT with information from the newspaper. Then, for the writing exercise, my students draft reviews or summaries of articles that they have read after reading and analyzing the articles with critical eyes. A variation on the writing activity is for students to draft letters to newsmakers.
My students say the day they read the newspaper in class is one of their favorite days of the week. They really enjoy writing about what they read in the paper and debating the controversial issues.
I regularly use newspaper articles, such as those from USA TODAY, in my classroom to cover specific topics that we are studying each week, and I use a modified version of Experience TODAY with my students to match my classroom objectives. We are studying budgeting right now and have studied ownership in the past. I will have my students use an article on franchising in the MONEY section to complete activities.
Since they already have background information on this subject, this article will be a great one for them to read. The students will read the article to themselves, and then they will come up with five advantages of buying a second-hand store or a franchise. Next, they will come up with some disadvantages. The next step will be to compare and contrast their knowledge with this article, and finally, we will have a group discussion.
My students always read “Across the Nation” and then pull out the states that show economic strength. They always have to provide me with indicators of why they chose those states. The kids really love it because after we do our lessons, I always give them time to read the rest of the paper.
Because of television news, students are reluctant to open a newspaper, so I use fun activities to stimulate learning and curiosity. I have students search for different photographs, skim the related articles and list three reasons why an editor chose to run a particular photo with the story. The photo may show detail, make the article more interesting, or even evoke an emotional response, e.g., a front-page photo of a fireman rescuing a baby.
After a class discussion about an author’s use of alliteration to “paint a picture” for the reader by creating emotion or helping the reader to visualize, I made an activity using the paper, which is full of headlines that use alliteration to grab readers’ attention. I compile headlines containing alliteration and ask students to seek out an answer to one of the Five Ws found in the article. I want them to make a meaningful link between headlines and content.
Students are so used to getting their news from TV, especially talk shows, that they tend to get what is skewed or sensationalized. Newspapers often give them an unbiased version of the news and encourage them to search for information that is both interesting and honest.