MOUNT VERNON — In today’s climate of blogs and tweets and the proliferation of allegedly “fake” news stories, newspapers continue to be a valuable resource for readers who want to stay intelligently informed about current local, state, national and world news and issues.
Educators also use newspapers to supplement their curricular materials and make the lessons more interesting and relevant to their students, from preschool through adult.
At the Esther Jetter Preschool on the campus of Mount Vernon Nazarene University, newspapers are used as a supplemental resource with the 4- and 5-year-old pupils. Director Kelly Gumm said the class pretended to be letter detectives on Monday and looked for letters to circle. Later in the year they will move from looking for letters to looking for words they recognize.
“Using newspapers as a resource encourages the children in literacy development,” Gumm continued. “We mostly use the Kidding Around page with the preschoolers. They enjoy looking at the pictures and when the information is relevant to their interests or our units of study, we read the articles. They are very excited to use their own copy of the newspaper and are eager to take it home and share it with their families.”
Elementary art students in Bruce Jacklin’s class at Centerburg Elementary look at the technical structure and humor on the comic page.
“We also discuss with the older students the editorial cartoons and the references to world events through satire and politics,” Jacklin said.
Walt Lewis, seventh-grade English language arts instructor at Mount Vernon Middle School, said he has been using newspapers in his classroom for more than 20 years.
“The variety of articles allows students to ‘tie-in’ to some topic that interests them,” Lewis told the News. “I also find that using newspapers helps with vocabulary development. And the newspaper is a great source of non-fiction writing which has become such a focus of Ohio’s Learning Standards in recent years.”
Knox Learning Center instructor Linda Whitehead said she employs the Mount Vernon News as a tool for current events and for a morning starter as students walk into the classroom.
“The paper is a good source of what is happening at the local, state and federal level,” she said.
“Students have about 10 minutes to skim and read articles; then, we pick an article to read together and/or discuss.”
Barb Harris, Aspire/Adult Diploma Program coordinator at Knox Technical Center, likes using newspapers with her adult students. The students are asked to find an article for discussion and to practice writing summaries. They are encouraged to look for unfamiliar words in the paper to find the definitions and meanings, thus expanding their vocabulary.
“I like using the Mount Vernon News in class,” Harris added, “because it is fresh news and local.”
The Mount Vernon News is a major resource for students in the Kenyon College course “Life Along the Kokosing,” which focuses on rural/small town American life. Professor of Anthropology Bruce Hardy said the paper is a way for students to discover what is going on in the larger community around them.
“We are lucky we have a newspaper still running and publishing local items,” Hardy said. “I actually give assignments that require the use of the Mount Vernon News. Each week, one student must find at least three items which connect to us in some way, which the student finds interesting and which convey something of importance about community life. The student then must write an essay summarizing the material and its significance for understanding Knox County. The student will also give an oral report to the class.”
Hardy’s assignment sheet states, “Every page of the newspaper is a potential source of relevant material. For example, a series of articles, editorials and letters to the editor about a single local issue may reveal political attitudes or cultural values. A careful examination of local auction announcements may provide insights into the character of the local economy.”
Hardy said the newspaper items are then kept on file in the research room for future reference.
“I discourage the students from using the online version of the paper,” Hardy concluded. “I want them to handle a physical copy. I think it makes it (the content) more meaningful to them.”