Especially for FamiliesNIE and You

Family Activities: Tutoring with the newspaper

As teachers, teacher assistants and parents interact in a one-to-one mode with children, the daily newspaper becomes a very important tool for learning. The newspaper provides up-to-date vital information in a format which is motivational and practical.

Used with Permission.
Kaitlyn, 4, works on a mural titled Space Alien Invasion, in her backyard at her home in Holly Hill. Saturday, February 26, 2005. She and a few other neighborhood kids were inspired by a photo in the News Journal of mural artist, Kaloyan Ivanov. (Photo: N-J/Pam Lockeby)

But more important, the newspaper provides print material in a variety of sizes and formats to assist in reading and writing, photos and cartoons and other illustrations to promote understanding, and news, feature, and editorial writing to promote reading, writing, and thinking. No other media can provide such a variety of resources for the tutor.

How shall we begin?

The best way to begin is to talk together as you look at the newspaper. Show your child some of the important parts of the newspaper. Talk about each part, but cover only a few of these parts at a time. Pick the parts which are suitable for the age of your child. You may want to cut out and label the parts as you go, making a little booklet.

Flag - The title of the newspaper is called the flag. Our newspaper, The News-Journal, traditionally has a flag with white print on a blue background.

Ears - These are boxes which appear on one or both sides of the flag. These boxes tell about articles in the newspaper of interest to readers. Children like the idea that newspapers have ears!

Index - in the lower left-hand corner of the paper is the index, a listing of the different features in the newspaper and the page on which they can be found. Use the index together as you try to find such things as the comics, the TV guide, or movie listings.

News Stories - Articles which tell about current happenings are called news stories or articles. These stories can be about happenings in the world, the United States, the county, or our own city. All news stories are written according to a special formula called inverted triangle.

Inverted Triangle - A news story is written with the most important information first. As the story continues, the information becomes less and less important, allowing an editor to cut the story if they need the space. Usually news stories have a lead which answers the 5 W´s.

Lead - The first paragraph in a news story is called the lead. It follows the dateline and usually contains the 5 W´s of the article.

Dateline - The the name of the city and country where the news story came from. The dateline is listed at the very beginning of a news story. For local and state news the dateline includes only the name of the city; if a city is well known (Paris, London, Moscow) sometimes only the city is listed even with international news.

5 W´s - The 5 W´s answer the questions Who, What, Where, When, and Why (or How) about the events in the news story. These are the most important details in the news story and usually occur in the lead. By reading the headline, the lead and finding the answers to the 5 W´s, children can quickly get the essential information about the news of the day.

Headline - The headline on a news article has big, bold words and summarizes the information in the article. It gives the reader a good idea of what the article is about. Headlines allow a reader to move their eyes quickly across the pages to find out which articles they wish to read.

Banner Headline - A banner headline is the biggest headline on the front page of the newspaper, usually going all the way across newspaper. A banner headline tells you that the article under it is considered by the editors to be the most important piece of news for that day.

News-Services - Because newspapers cannot afford to have reporters around the world, they buy news articles and photos from news services such as AP (Associated Press) and The New York Times, which have stations around the world. These articles and photos are sent on computers, ready to be printed in The News-Journal. Sometimes these articles have bylines.

Bylines - Bylines (By Linda Trimble, for instance) tell the names of the writer of an article or column. Reporters hope that their news stories are so good that that they will get a Byline.

Feature Stories - Articles which entertain or enlighten you rather than give you news are called feature stories. Often feature stories will have some news items but they generally are not written in the 5 W format. Articles about food, pets, gardening, and entertainment and movie, TV, and book reviews are all feature stories. Sometimes feature stories are written by columnists and are called columns.

Columns - A feature article with a special title and published on a regular basis is called a column. Dear Abby and Dr. Dos, are columns and Abigail Van Buren and Tony Briggs, who write these columns, are columnists. The editorial page also has columns and columnists.

Editorials - Editorials are articles which express the opinion of the writers. Our newspaper has two editorial pages where the editors of the newspaper express their opinions about issues, where columnists express their opinions about events, and where readers can express their feelings and opinions (reader´s editorials). It is important for young readers to understand the difference between fact and fiction, between news and opinion. Using the newspaper with these distinct types of information-sources helps them understand the difference. You will need to help.

Editorial Cartoons - Editorial cartoons, like editorials, express the opinion of the cartoonist and usually the opinion of the newspaper´s editorial board. Often they use caricatures of famous people and poke fun at events andactions. The News-Journal has its´ own resident editorial cartoonist, Bruce Beattie, whose cartoons appear in our paper and papers all over the world. His editorial cartoons and his comic, SNAFU, are syndicated.

Syndicates - Syndicates are companies which buy columns or cartoons or comics and distribute them to newspapers around the country on a subcription basis. When a writer or cartoonist has their work syndicated, this means that the material is popular and can be sold to readers beyond the local area. Newspaper writers and cartoonists are happy when their material is syndicated because they are paid on the basis of how many papers use their work.

Comics - Comics are drawings which tell a story, usually humorous but occasionally adventurous. Comics use balloons to show what characters in the COMIC are saying or thinking. The comics page usually has a variety of comics, including cartoons like Dennis the Menace with just one block, and comics like Hagar the Horrible, Garfield, and Calvin and Hobbes which have three to five blocks. Almost all comics are syndicated.

Advertisements - Advertisements, better known as Ads, are printed materials paid for by companies or individuals to advertise products or services for sale, rent, or lease. advertisements are either display ads (which use large, bold type and illustrations) or classified ads (which use small type and few illustrations). Advertisements support production of the newspaper; without ADS newspapers could not operate. The advertisement and editorial departments of newspapers are separated to ensure that advertisers have no influence on news articles. Newspapers can and do refuse to accept advertising they feel is unfit to print.

What can I do now?

Now that your child is familiar with some newspaper terms and you have walked through the paper, cutting and pasting items, you are ready to use the newspaper to teach some specific skills.

Modified from Ira Gordon´s DESIRABLE TEACHING BEHAVIORS: Stevie Hoffman, University of Missouri, Columbia.