Politics, business, sport, the arts, justice, opinion . . . newspapers are a rolling resource of important information. News never sleeps and, because no two pages or editions are ever the same, newspapers can be an effective, engaging and valuable research tool in the classroom. Research suggests using newspapers in the classroom can:
- help with student engagement in learning generally;
- boost literacy;
- encourage higher order thinking in students;
- help students become more engaged as citizens of society; and
- boost confidence in social discussions.
More than ever, young people are bombarded with information, and it can be difficult to discern the real from the fake, or the important from the trivial. Over the past 10 years the news media has changed dramatically from traditional print to digital – and social media has changed the world. As students become ever more connected to devices, the use of newspapers in class can:
- offer a credible and creative avenue for developing critical and media literacy skills;
- help students to differentiate between fact and opinion;
- enable exploration of multiple points of view;
- enable a more timely analysis of current events and the ability to engage with the big issues of the day;
- help students to understand that “fake news’’ is real in our world; and
- bridge the gap between the classroom and the real world.
Hands-on learning tools for the information age…
At Media Education, we are advocates for newspapers being the perfect vehicle for exploring a range of topics and ideas, especially with younger students.
Newspapers are inexpensive, fun and engaging. Most importantly newspapers are tactile – they can be drawn on, highlighted, cut up or glued.
Newspapers are like a ‘living textbook’ – the layout and order is predictable, even if the content isn’t. Each page turned is like a new revelation – the content of the day has been curated and stories can be followed as they evolve over the course of a few days.
On the other hand, the internet can be akin to a library with all the books thrown on the floor – it can be difficult for students to know how and where to search for the best results, filter the relevant from the irrelevant information, and a certain amount of prior knowledge is required to conduct a worthwhile investigation.
Media Education highlights how teachers can use the newspaper and other forms of media to support the WA Curriculum with a focus on relevant local content for WA students. In 2018, we will be offering schools a number of programs that can be used in learning areas such as English, HASS and Media Arts.
Newspapers (and television news) are a one-stop shop for exploring a range of concepts in English across many year levels, including:
- understanding and producing informative, persuasive and media texts;
- fact and opinion;
- objective, subjective and evaluative language;
- modelling clear and concise writing;
- text types – including articles, advertisements, advertorials, classifieds;
- purpose of texts;
- focus on audience;
- text structures;
- visual literacy, including text layout and use of images;
- comprehension skills – literal and inferred meaning;
- critical literacy skills;
- points of view;
- springboard for writing; and
- interviewing skills.
Newspapers are a valuable source of information about current and historical events. They are an ideal vehicle for teaching HASS skills, providing a springboard to exploring questioning and researching, analysing, evaluating, communicating and reflecting. Furthermore, some Media Education programs directly support HASS content, including Civics and Citizenship and Economics, for example:
- rules, laws and voting;
- commemorations such as ANZAC day;
- role of government;
- Australia as a democracy;
- elections in Australia;
- law enforcement, courts and the consequences of law breaking;
- resources and resource use in Australia;
- advertising – consumers and businesses;
- the three levels of government;
- rights and responsibilities of Australian citizens;
- locating and collecting information from sources; and
- identifying points of view and distinguishing between fact and opinion.
Even if Media Arts is not an Arts focus area for your school, teachers can enhance their students’ learning in other curriculum areas using concepts from the Media Arts curriculum, with a focus on Making and Responding.
- exploration of how images, text, sound, can convey meaning for an audience;
- experimenting with media codes and conventions (technical, audio, written and symbolic);
- media and critical literacy;
- stereotypes; and
- protocols, regulations and ethics, eg media rights, public viewing, sharing of media.