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Teachers utilize newspapers as modern textbook

March 16, 2011

South St. Marys Street Elementary students in Mrs. Hanslovan's class review a copy of The Daily Press as part of the publication's Newspaper In Education program. Photo by Amy Cherry.

Teachers throughout St. Marys Area School District are among thousands across the nation participating in the Newspaper In Education (NIE) program.
Currently there are eight schools and 29 classrooms participating in The Daily Press' NIE program this year.
Since its founding in the 1930s, the program has concentrated its efforts on attracting youth readership and training teachers to integrate newspapers into curriculum.
From teachers to tutors, they all find the newspaper a helpful teaching tool inside their classrooms.
"It’s something “different” then just using a worksheet or the textbook and it’s real life," stated first-time NIE participant Cassie Fera, a sixth grade language arts teacher at St. Marys Area Middle School. "I choose to participate in NIE to bring variety into my classroom and to appeal to student interest."
Fera, along with many other teachers, views newspapers as a useful resource to conduct proofreading assignments and to identify parts of speech. She also utilizes them for writing prompts where students write a response or additional part to a printed story.
At the high school level, St. Marys Area teacher Rick Miller takes advantage of the science articles, which he uses in his outdoor skills classes.
"We read about and explore hunting, Marcellus Shale projects, DCNR notes, and watershed information from the courthouse. I also use it in biology when we find new technologies like nanotechnology or discovery of new species and endangerment or threatened species," Miller said. "Students also get to see their classmates with a bear harvest or buck harvest trophy photo."
Miller noted that his favorite aspect of the program is getting his students involved in the local area.
At St. Boniface Elementary School in Kersey, students and teachers use the paper in finding sight words and vocabulary, parts of speech such as nouns and verbs, contractions and grammar, and studying local, state, national and international and current events.
According to Marie Giazzoni, St. Boniface principal, second grade students are sent home with a copy of The Daily Press; however, other classrooms often do the same. All grade levels participate in the program.
"This gives the students a chance to read the newspaper with their parents," Giazzoni said. "St. Boniface teachers have said that students are motivated to have their own copy because they feel “grown up”. It creates an interest in reading, it enhances the curriculum, it exposes the importance of newspapers, and helps to enhance student learning."
She added that St. Boniface has participated in the NIE program since its inception at The Daily Press.
"I love the NIE program. We try to utilize the newspapers in our classroom in some way each week," said Amanda Vollmer, Fox Township Elementary teacher. "We use the sports page for math data activities. I've had students rewrite headlines as a way to practice main idea and details and we've used articles for summarizing practice. Sometimes we cut out letters to practice our spelling words. I like using the newspaper as a resource and the wealth of activities we can do with the newspaper really enhances our curriculum."

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