In Keven Pullen’s broadcast and video class at the Golden Isles Career Academy, a newspaper is the jumping off point for an entire lesson.
Students in the class learn how to put together a news package for television from taking a news article out of The Brunswick News and transforming it in a single class period. The students write the story, work the camera and narrate the package.
And Pullen said his students love when he can place a newspaper in their hands to get that package started.
“They have so many minutes to find that story, craft that story, they have to make sure there’s at least 13 readable sentences in there — not including your intro and closing,” he said. “And no plagiarizing. If you plagiarize, you’re burnt toast.”
Through the Newspapers in Education program, Glynn County teachers have The Brunswick News delivered to their classroom regularly to use as an educational tool, but not just at the career academy. A newspaper can serve as a supplemental text for students of all ages.
Erica Ellison, a fourth grade teacher at Sterling Elementary School, said she uses every part of the newspaper in her classroom. The students learn about current events from the articles, science from the weather pages and more.
“I teach science and social studies along with math, and in order for these students to get inside into the real relevance of those subjects, this will expose them to alternate texts and the real world relevance of it,” she said.
She said her students are assigned to select an article each week and write a summary, a lesson plan she said has worked well with students in the past.
“The students really love the newspaper,” she said. “They love to feel like adults.”
But it’s the way a news article is written that makes a newspaper a good teaching tool, said Kathleen McKenzie, a 10th grade writing teacher at Brunswick High School.
“The level of newspaper writing is more accessible for a lot of high school and middle school students because it’s more at the middle school level,” McKenzie said. “We want to find accessible materials for students.”
And reading a newspaper also can introduce students to ways to make a career out of writing, she said.
“For those students who really are looking to go into writing, this would be an opportunity for them to say ‘This is how I could do this,’ as far a career goes,” she said.
Teachers also encourage students to develop an interest in current events and to recognize the importance of staying informed.
“They don’t watch the news,” said Mark Fell, an eighth grade Georgia history teacher at Jane Macon Middle School. “If they come here and read the newspapers, they’re going to learn a lot more that way. And then they find things that interest them.”
Fell has used the program in his classroom for many years, as has Tanya Lanham, an eighth grade teacher at Jane Macon.
“In conjunction with the writing class, we use it to gather ideas,” she said. “We use it for current events, reading for understanding and pulling details and rewriting story endings.”
An assignment to change the story ending is an opportunity for creativity, she said.
“If it’s a sad ending, if its an article where a person is killed and dies, they can change it to where the person lives and recovers and does well,” she said.
She also uses news articles to spark classroom discussion.
“I have used it in the past for Socratic seminars, where they choose an article and everybody reads the article, they chose sides and they defend it,” she said. “And you have a person who straddles the fence.”
McKenzie, who just began her first year teaching at Brunswick High is using the NIE program there. She said in the past she’s found many creative ways to use newspapers in the classroom.
“In the past we would take newspapers and make collages out of words,” she said. “There’s just so many great things you can do with newspapers.”
The good news for teachers is that there is always an opportunity to begin using newspapers in the classroom. All it takes is a phone call to The News at 265-8320 ext. 356. Summer Whitten would be happy to sign up teachers to get their newspapers twice a week, on Tuesdays and Thursdays.