Use the news for education purposes

Letter from a teacher in Florida

As a veteran teacher, I had heard these comments numerous times during the course of a day from students in classrooms throughout the school. I would commiserate with my colleagues daily asking them for suggestions on how to get our students involved in reading with the hope that at some point they would even enjoy it. Through the course of my career, I had seen so many reading programs come and go, but the results never met my expectations.

Two years ago, I had an opportunity to see a presentation of an education program by one of America’s leading newspapers and really liked everything about it. I went back to my school and wrote a grant which partially funded a project that I had been wanting to implement for a long time.

My idea was to get different subject area teachers involved in teaching lifelong reading strategies to their students. The newspaper became the vehicle that would make this happen. I asked for volunteers and the first year we began with a team of twenty teachers from science, social studies, business education, math, language arts, ESOL, and exceptional education. We met as a group and decided that each teacher would get a class set of papers once a week.

Since many articles in newspapers focus on different subject areas daily, it was an easy plan to implement. Throughout the year we would meet as a team and share strategies and lessons from the newspaper’s daily lesson plan. By June, we even had an opportunity to speak to the editor of Experience Today and he welcomed our suggestions and input.

This year our team has now grown to thirty teachers and we are getting the newspaper daily. Our over 3,000 students, who make up one of the most diverse populations of any high school in Miami, are getting a glimpse of the world beyond our county. They are interacting with informational text through writing and discussion groups throughout the week.

The newspaper, USA TODAY, has helped us breathe new life into reading and learning. Students feel very grown up when they read their newspaper or go online and talk to the editors. Teachers find that the lesson plan focuses on higher order questioning and problem-solving activities. At Hialeah-Miami Lakes Senior High School, USA TODAY gives us a chance to bring current reading into our classroom and allows us to take a look at the world in a different way.