Schools use newspaper to enhance learning

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, April 13, 1999

STACEY PLAISANCE / L’Observateur / April 13, 1999

ST. JAMES – Teachers at Fifth Ward Elementary School utilizeL’Observateur to enhance their classroom lessons while allowing students to read, discuss and develop their understanding of the newspaper.

Fifth Ward teachers conduct activities which force students to use the newspaper index, explore various sections of the paper and read and analyze articles, photographs, graphics and advertisements.

L’Observateur has been used in teaching subjects such as English, math and science at the third- through sixth-grade levels at Fifth Ward and is being utilized at several other schools in the River Parishes as well.

L’Observateur’s Newspaper in Education program began in the spring of 1998 and has involved 10 schools so far. Business partners who sponsorthe newspapers to schools include Motiva, Burger King, DuPont, Reserve Telecommunications, South Central Bell, Sonic, Zachry Construction and Weber’s Supermarket.

Fifth Ward Elementary has been very enthusiastic about its involvement in the program.

“The students look forward to Wednesdays when the paper comes out, and it’s great for them to discuss the articles and talk about what’s going on in their community,” said Betty Stewart, a sixth-grade teacher.

Stewart said the newspaper has been a handy tool in her teaching of English and math, and students have participated in projects which challenge their writing and math skills.

One of Stewart’s classroom activities required that a group of students write captions for pictures in the newspaper, while another group of students identified the parts of speech used in the captions.

To challenge her students’ math abilities, Stewart had them “bargain shop” during the holiday season. Her students compared prices innewspaper ads and discounts and figured out percentages to find the best bargain.

Teacher Eula Murray said she uses advertisements in her math lessons at the third-grade level. She conducted an activity with her students similarto a game on television’s “The Price Is Right.” Her students were allottedan imaginary $15 and were required to purchase items from the newspaper ads, trying to get a total as close to $15 as possible without going over.

“They have fun with that, and the grocery section is helpful in teaching math,” Murray said. She also uses the newspaper in her English lessons tohelp students identify parts of speech and proper sentence structure.

Sherie Waguespack, a fifth-grade teacher, said the newspaper puts parts of speech into context for students to identify.

“Students often see parts of speech and words out of context, and the newspaper allows them to see things in the right context,” Waguespack said.

Using highlighters, color pencils and pens in identifying parts of speech in the newspaper has been a valuable tool in teaching her students, particularly special education students, Waguespack said.

“They have fun using the colors, and it helps them identify with the parts of speech through association with color and the context in the paper,” she explained. “The colors make organizing sentences easier.”Students in Elizabeth Davis’ sixth-grade class have practiced summarizing articles to improve their writing skills, and they have made charts organizing words by tenses. The charts were displayed on the wall inDavis’ classroom.

Veronica Hughley had her fifth-grade class cut out direct quotations in the newspaper and paste them onto construction paper to form a collage.

Hughley’s class has also made pronoun collages.

“Looking for something, cutting it out and arranging it in a certain way helps the students associate parts of speech and parts of articles,” Hughley said.

Shevette Knighten has her fourth-grade class explore the newspaper in- depth as they use it in class projects, making the newspaper a research tool. Knighten said she will ask the students a question and supply a pagenumber for students to search for the answer. She said questions arecompiled from various sections of the paper to ensure that students will be exposed to many sections, not just a few.

“We even use the obituaries and birth announcements,” Knighten said. “Itry to include all the sections.”Advertisements are used in consumer math problems in Knighten’s class, and she uses the newspaper as an opportunity for her students to obtain extra-credit points in class.

“The newspaper is a great way to teach, and the students love it,” Knighten said. “I’ll use the newspaper in my teaching as long as the papercomes out.”Fifth Ward teachers agree that using L’Observateur in the classroom has increased student awareness of the news and the students’ interest in reading the newspaper.

“It’s really grown on them, and they tell me what they’ve seen or read about without me even asking,” Stewart said. “They are paying attention,and they’re more aware.”Stewart emphasizes the importance of all aspects of media in her classroom activities, she said. Her students watch the news daily at noonvia the classroom television.

“We watch the news together every day – we don’t miss it,” Stewart said.

Fifth Ward students who have been exposed to the newspaper and media in the classroom will probably be more inclined to keep up with the news at home, she said.

“It’s important to get them reading and keeping up with what’s going on around them, and the newspaper is important in doing that,” Stewart said.

Other Fifth Ward teachers utilizing L’Observateur in their classrooms include Elnora Louis, a third-grade teacher and Pamela Alcorn, a fourth- grade teacher.

Any business interested in sponsoring newspapers to a River Parishes school should contact Mary Jo Hosner at (504) 652-7128. Schools notcurrently participating which would like to can also call Hosner for more details.Back to Top

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