By Teachers, For Teachers
The newspaper is a powerful and cost-effective instructional tool. Based on research, students who understand this type of structure of text read with more understanding.
Newspapers can be used as classroom activities to help improve students’ reading and writing skills. A newspaper provides students with the opportunity to enhance their cognitive skills and see how reading and writing are interconnected.
The newspaper text is predictable, which can be a great model for student writing. Having your students create their own classroom newspaper is one of the great classroom activities for them to practice their reading and writing skills, while collaborating with classmates to achieve a common goal.
Here is how you can put together a classroom newspaper with your students.
To get started, you must first begin by showing students a newspaper. Have them browse through it and see what types of things are in it. Have students go on a newspaper scavenger hunt to help them become familiar with the topics they will find in a newspaper. Have them look for headlines, bylines, photos, the sports section, opinion page, obituaries, comics, ads, local news, etc.
Then, together as a class, choose the topics that will go into your class newspaper, as well as decide upon how many pages it will have for each topic, and how many positions (writers, editors, etc.) the paper will have. Students will also have to decide on the name of the paper. This can be decided upon by a class vote. Here is an example of a planning page that you can format with your class.
The next step is to assign the positions for the newspaper. You can do this by making a list on the front board then having students apply for the position that they would like to have. Be sure that you state each position’s responsibilities. Once you receive each students’ application, then you can post what position each student will have. Here are a few ideas of newspapers positons to choose from: Headline news, editor-in-chief, editor, copy editor, reporter, editorial cartoonist, advertising rep, artist and designers, production team mambers.
Once students know their positions, it is now time for them to get to work. Break students up into groups according to their job position. For example, all of the reporters will work in one section of the classroom, while all of the editors will work in another, and so on. This way you can go around the classroom and do a mini-lesson with each group to help get them started. For the writers you must instruct them to use the 5 W’s and an H – who, what, when, where, why, and how. They need to think about if their criteria for the story is newsworthy and will make a good news story. Students can use this organizer to help them figure out if their idea is newsworthy.
Students must also determine if the story is important. Will it will get a reaction out of the reader? Inflict an emotion? Have an impact on the reader? Or is it unique?
Once students have determined that their story or article is newsworthy then it now time to write. You can give students class time as well as time at home. Give your editors the authority to suggest revisions and to make sure that students don’t take their criticism too hard. Remind them that it is an editor’s job. Also remind students when their deadline is, and that they must meet it if they want to be in the published newspaper.
Once students have submitted their articles to their editor and completed the suggested revisions, it is now time to go to press. Have students make enough copies for each student in class, as well as to hand out to other classes. If you keep a class book or create an end-of-year yearbook, then it’s wise to keep a copy for yourself. Here is a checklist to help your students determine if the newspaper is ready for publication.
Now that your class newspaper is completed, it was a sure success. Your students had the opportunity to practice their language arts skills, and develop their social skills as well. Students worked together to achieve a common goal, and learned to appreciate and accept their peers' differences. Overall, it helped to transform your student’s into newspaper readers as well as writers.
Have you ever created your own classroom newspaper? If so, how did it go? Please share your experiences in the comment section below, we would love to hear your thoughts on the topic
Janelle Cox is an education writer who uses her experience and knowledge to provide creative and original writing in the field of education. Janelle holds a Master's of Science in Education from the State University of New York College at Buffalo. She is also the Elementary Education Expert for About.com, as well as a contributing writer to TeachHUB.com and TeachHUB Magazine. You can follow her at Twitter @Empoweringk6ed, or on Facebook at Empowering K6 Educators.