Teachers heading back to the classroom this year are looking at learning through a new lens. Educational initiatives nationwide are pushing schools, and the teachers within, to align curriculum with real world expectations – skills needed for success in college and on the job.
Teaching has always been about building skills upon skills, like a sturdy tower of blocks, as students move from kindergarten to graduation. But now, those blocks are changing.
The new skills include STEM areas — science, technology, engineering and math, and a different approach to literacy — more informational and nonfiction reading, writing based on evidence and deeper analysis of what’s being read.
The goal, the experts say, is to teach students to think critically in a global environment with 21st century knowledge and skills.
For years, The Missourian has been a tool for resourceful teachers investing class time to take concepts one step further to real-life applications. Now, that’s the core of the new Common Core State Standards (CCSS), also called Missouri Learning Standards.
Through its Missourian In Education program, The Missourian partners with community businesses, individuals and organizations to provide classroom newspapers at no cost to area schools. Last year, teachers in 45 area schools used more than 100,000 copies of The Missourian during the school year.
Resources for Teachers
Beyond providing newspapers to the classrooms, Missourian In Education provides teacher training and resources. In early August, about 20 teachers from nine different schools, public and private, attended a Missourian workshop to learn ways to use the newspaper to meet their new academic goals.
Dawn Kitchell, educational services director for The Missourian, said she was surprised to have such a variety of teachers attend.
“To see all teachers —from private schools and public schools across the area — working toward the same long-term goals is really an exciting movement,” she said.
During the week of Aug. 19-23, The Missourian distributed a new teacher resource, “Using the Newspaper to Meet Common Core Standards” to educators in schools throughout the area. The guide illustrates how the newspaper can be a timely, relevant and affordable source of nonfiction text to help students master these new skills.
The guide provides student activities using the newspaper to teach the skills of the Common Core Anchor Standards. The Anchor Standards are the end goals in ensuring all students are prepared to enter college or work force-training programs ready to succeed. Grade-specific standards build on the Anchor Standards, cultivating literacy skills across the curriculum from kindergarten through 12th grade.
Jennifer Wirthwein, a language arts teacher at Washington Middle School, compiled the guide for the Missouri Press Association and its member newspapers, including The Missourian.
“Jennifer did a terrific job of using tried-and-true activities with each Anchor Standard to show how simple it is to use the newspaper to teach so many of the skills included of the Common Core Standards,” Kitchell said. “The three activities build in difficulty, offering teachers a wide spectrum of ideas.”
Teachers and parents interested in “Using the Newspaper to Meet Common Core Standards” can access it at emissourian.com on the Newspaper In Education page.
The Missourian’s membership to the Newspaper In Education Institute provides local educators online access to more than 300 instructional resources, including teacher guides, student supplements, character education materials, many subject-specific resources, video and audio teacher training modules, and an instructional calendar.
“We’ve been subscribing to NIE Institute for several years and I think it’s a hidden gem on our website,” Kitchell said. “This is basically a clearinghouse for hundreds of terrific Newspaper In Education features that have been created by newspapers and vendors over the years.”
The NIE Institute can be accessed directly from the Missourian In Education pages on emissourian.com.
The Missourian also supports the educational use of the newspaper with weekly features written specifically for young readers. Newspaper In Education features are published in every weekend issue of The Missourian. Much of the content is provided by the Missouri Press Association and is used by community newspapers across the state.
New This Year
Information on science, technology, engineering and math will be featured in a STEM series published in The Missourian’s third weekend issue each month. The series will include an experiment that can be done in the classroom, math applications and ideas for using the newspaper to extend the learning. The series will cover physics, static electricity, the biology of nutrition, computer programming, inventors, geology, topology, how eyes function and the science of acceleration.
“The St. Louis American created this terrific series last year and offered it to about 4,000 students in the city,” Kitchell said. “It had a tremendous reception —and that makes sense, because it’s really good stuff. The newspaper generously agreed to let Missouri Press adapt pieces of the full-page feature for use in community newspapers across the state.
Kitchell said she elected to publish one feature each month to stretch those learning opportunities through the entire school year, rather than run them all at once.
Many civic features throughout the school year will offer teachers the opportunity to incorporate English-language arts into history/social studies. Topics will include the Constitution, 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, 50th anniversary of the Supreme Court case of Gideon v. Wainwright which established the Right to Counsel, Veterans Day, Bill of Rights, and 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech.
“I was talking to a high school government teacher who said he was anxious to share some of these monumental Civil Rights commemorations with his students,” Kitchell said. “I told him he’d find everything he needed right inside his community newspaper and that was available to his classroom at no charge.”
The rich history of Missouri journalism will be shared with young readers during National Newspaper Week (Oct. 6-13) with a series on Famous Missouri Journalists, including Joseph Charless, William Switzler, Eugene Field and Mark Twain.
During Geography Awareness Week, Nov. 17-22, a three-part series will begin and include features on Candy Bar Geography, All About Maps and Water World Geography.
Local young readers will join students from across the state in January’s Reading Across Missouri project. The Missourian will publish an eight-chapter serial story about Lilly, a search and rescue dog from Joplin, who helped in the aftermath of the 2010 Joplin tornado. The story was written by Carolyn Mueller, a keeper at the St. Louis Zoo, and author of “Bubbles the Dwarf Zebu,” a story about a cow’s journey from India to the United States.
A series highlighting presidential wives, “First Ladies of America,” will feature eight of the early women and will begin during Women’s History Month in March.
Kid Scoop will continue to be featured in the newspaper each weekend with a simple activity and links to The Missourian’s online subscription, which has articles, activities, puzzles and games for students, and resources for parents and teachers.
Kitchell said for many years The Missourian published the full page Kid Scoop feature. That is still available through the online subscription, in addition to many more resources, not only for students, but there’s also a lesson library for educators, she said.
The Missourian In Education program will kick off classroom newspaper delivery with the Sept. 7-8 issue, delivered to participating classrooms on Sept. 9. The date intentionally coincides with International Literacy Day (Sept. 8) and the newspaper will feature the article, “Read to Your Kids,” by longtime reading proponent, “Mr. Read Aloud,” Jim Trelease.
Book Buzz, another project of the Missourian In Education program, begins its 11th year in September. In 2012, The Missourian and its project partners celebrated the 10th anniversary and donation of more than 10,000 new, hardcover books to area schools and libraries.
The Missourian publishes Newsbee’s Book Buzz Picks, recommending books from preschool through eighth grade, the first weekend of each month. Young readers have six weeks to read the books and submit reviews. A Book Buzz Reviews column is published in the last weekend issue of The Missourian monthly and the Washington Optimist Club sponsors book prizes to the selected reviewers. Additional reviews are published on emissourian.com.
In response to teacher and parent requests, a new Book Buzz Book Review Form is available, offering guided suggestions. Young readers can now rate the Picks with beehives. Writing book reviews meets the Common Core Standards and those are identified on the form. It can be found on the Missourian In Education webpage.
Chris Stuckenschneider, coordinator for the Book Buzz project, said she’s excited about offering students the new review form. She said the tips are so good that she’s used them in writing her book column, Novel Ideas, on adult books.
Each year the Missourian In Education program coordinates several community events. Three of the events this school year will involve bringing nationally recognized authors to the area.
At 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 18, The Missourian along with the Washington Public Library and Scenic Regional Library are hosting a presentation by British author Jasper Fforde, who wrote the February Book Buzz Pick, “The Last Dragonslayer.” A relative newcomer to children’s books, Fforde is best known for his “Thursday Next” adult novels.
The eighth annual Run to Read will be held at 8 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 12. The event features a 5K run, 1-mile walk and Baby Buzz Dash and will begin for the second year at the Washington Public Library. All participants in the Run to Read select a book from hundreds of youth, teen and adult titles. Four-time Book Buzz author Meghan McCarthy will be the featured guest and will share her newest book, “The Incredible Life of Balto,” a September Book Buzz Pick. Registration forms will be available soon on emissourian.com or at the Four Rivers Area Family YMCA, co-organizer of the event.
Family Reading Night is slated for Friday, March 7, at Washington Middle School. This will be the 13th year for the free, family event, which will feature a soon-to-be-announced author, readers’ theater performances by the Washington Police Department and Washington Fire Department, dozens of community readers and book basket giveaways galore.
“It’s going to be hard to top last year’s main stage performances,” Kitchell said. “But every year we think we’ve organized the best Family Reading Night possible, and then our committee finds some new angles to get kids excited about reading.”
The Bee, the regional spelling competition organized by The Missourian and sponsored by hth companies, inc., will be held on Saturday, March 22, at East Central College. All schools in the area are invited to send their school spelling bee champion, grades four to eight, to participate in The Bee. Missourian In Education will distribute its spelling bee resource booklet to all schools in early January.
Kitchell said schools will receive registration information to participate in The Bee in a few weeks.
The Missourian will honor its 10th Missourian In Education Teacher of the Year in December. The annual award recognizes an area educator who uses the newspaper in his or her classroom in creative ways to inspire and excite students about reading for information and entertainment. Administrators and colleagues can nominate a teacher by contacting Dawn Kitchell, Missourian educational services director, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 636-932-4301.
Teachers can sign up to participate in the Missourian In Education program at emissourian.com/nie. Anyone interested in youth literacy and the programs offered through Missourian In Education can find news online at emissourian.com and on Facebook at facebook.com/missourianineducation.
Kitchell said as schools seek new resources to help them adapt their teaching to the Common Core State Standards and try to fit those resources into their budgets, she hopes The Missourian will rise to the top as a timely, relevant and affordable source of nonfiction text that can help students to master the skills while connecting them to their community in a way no other resource can.