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Grade: Middle

#1809. Reading the newspaper

Reading/Writing, level: Middle
Posted Fri Jun 23 07:29:51 PDT 2000 by Kris Olson (
Holmes Junior High, Cedar Falls, IA, USA
Materials Required: Newspapers
Activity Time: Varies with student academic level
Concepts Taught: Contextual Reading Skills

Title: Reading the Newspaper

Subject Matter Emphasis and Level: Critical-reading skills in reading the newspaper for 7th-9th graders identified with learning disabilities.

Brief Description of the lesson: The students will critically read articles related to local, state, national, and world events using word maps.

Why Do This? Critical reading skills at grade level is an expected skill for regular education students. Cedar Falls School district goals assert the need for students to develop life-long learning skills. Using the newspaper as a vehicle to teach critical reading skills in timely news articles will make the content more relevant to the students.

Content: Critical reading skills including skimming, reading for main idea and details, using contextual-clues, vocabulary skills, comprehension skills, and summarizing skills will be mastered.

-Students will become proficient in the use of the Internet and using the Inspiration program.
-Students will be able to identify articles by the geographic descriptors of local, state, national, and world.
-Students will be able to locate articles of interest and readability.
-Students will apply skimming skills, contextual reading skills, vocabulary development, and comprehension skills in answering who, what, where, when, why, and how questions.
-Students will apply higher level thinking skills making connections to their own lives, to other subject areas, and other topics that could be researched for added information on the topic.
-Students will experience self-study skills in reading the Bangkok post, a mythical newspaper in learning to use context clues and clues to determine word meanings.

Students will take an active role of choosing the newspaper article from online or available newspapers at school or at home. The activity will relate to the English, social studies, and science content areas. The students will need to be able to read the level of reading that is included in the newspaper in order to master the skills in this unit. Instilling an interest in the world around them and relating news to their own lives will be important in ensuring that the work done is deemed important to the students. Basic contextual reading skills of reading for meaning, reading for main idea and details will be prerequisites for this unit. These skills may also be taught through the use of the news articles. The students may find the vocabulary in some articles to be difficult. But as they work through the basic questions, hopefully, using contextual clues will become more automatic and fluent.


Students will use the word map template to organize their reading and list the answers they find in order to organize their thoughts. As an initial activity, all students will complete a word map on the same news article and discuss how they found their information and compare their work. The word map will serve as an assessment of the student's progress. As they progress, the connections they make will exemplify their higher thinking skills. As the students keep a notebook containing their reviews, they will assess their own progress, the ease at which they are able to find information, read for meaning, comprehend, and make connections. As the students become proficient in using the word map for reading the newspaper, they will be able to apply the word map format to other classes. Each student will be required to use a word map for use in another class, whether to help in reading a novel, for reading a content area assignment, or setting up a word map for studying for a test. Each of these will be samples of mastery of this process.

Teaching Strategies

The students will learn by doing in this unit. As the use of the newspaper becomes more fluent, their world of understanding will expand. The students will be allowed to choose their own newspaper articles, with certain requirements and stipulations. The articles will need to be at least six paragraphs in length, not be a caption to a picture or illustration, and be from the news section of the newspaper. The skill of underlining basic answers to the questions as they use articles cut out from the newspaper, highlighting or underlining in the text, or copying an article from the computer onto the clipboard, will be a skill practiced to mastery. Becoming proficient in reading articles in the newspaper is a lifelong learning skill that can carry over into the work world and everyday life. Making connections to each student's experiences, to content area reading, to units in science, math, social studies will become a positive outcome. There are some students for whom reading the newspaper is too difficult and tedious at this time. Reading the article to the student would allow the student to determine answers to who, what, when, where, why, how questions on the word map. Then from the word map the student could make connections, as well. Selecting articles for these students would also be a way to tailor their instruction to more manageable articles.
Materials and Resources

Newspapers available in the school library include, The Waterloo Courier, Des Moines Register, Chicago Tribune; the Waterloo Courier supports teachers in providing an in-service with units that can be applied to the regular classroom instruction. The use of the internet lab at school, computers that are networked in each classroom that are available to students, and the use of individual computers that students may have at home are all technology resources that will be put to use. Using the Inspiration program will also be a useful organizational tool for each student. The following Internet sites will be accessible for each student to read off the Internet and save specific articles to the clipboard, from which the Inspiration program can be used to develop a word map.


Small group discussion will be an integral part of cooperatively helping each other master the art of skimming, finding meaning using context, and summarizing. When the unit is introduced and all students are using the same article, after completing their word map, small groups will gather to discuss how they read for meaning, how they determined their answers to the questions. Helping each other with strategies will be an ongoing part of this unit. The pairing of students will be assigned by the teacher with mixing students heterogeneously according to general skill levels. Using the computer lab will be done as a class project at least monthly. The students will be using computers in study hall, at home, before or after school, as available and as is needed. Those students needing more help to master these skills will receive help in study hall, from other peer helpers, and from the special class teachers.

Support Services

Learning to use the Inspiration computer program will be necessary for the instructor, as well as time for the students to become proficient in using it. Using the Internet to read articles and find articles will also be a skill to master. Copying and printing articles, locating and siting articles, and the use of the Internet in all of its capacity will be an integral part of this project. Ongoing evaluation, updating, revamping of methods will be applied throughout this project. Using specific topics, geographic areas, sharing weekly in newspaper talks given individually and in small groups to the class will involve time weekly. The intent is that the students will learn from each other as well as learn skills individually that they can apply across the curriculum and throughout their lives.

In using the Inspiration program, a word map template is developed that can be used on the computer or hard copy form, which ever works better depending on the learning style of the student. The title of the article and newspaper is the top bubble in the word map. Then a skimming strand is set up with the questions, where, when, who and boxes or bubbles in which to note this information. After skimming is done, the geographical topic of local, state, national, world is determined. The next strand is content, with what, how, why questions and boxes provided for information gleaned from the newspaper article. Then the next strand is connections where the student is asked to note how the information relates to him, other subjects of interest, and areas that could be researched further.

Area Education Agency 7 o Educational Services 1
Patty AcheyCutts, June 2000
Adapted from Nancy Lockett's Unit/Lesson Planning Guide []