A living textbook

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

This week, newspapers across the country are celebrating National NIE Week. NIE stands for Newspapers In Education, a program that creates a partnership between local newspapers and schools. The Cassville Democrat has offered NIE through the Cassville R-IV School District for several years, and we hope to eventually see the program expanded into other Barry County schools.

NIE is made possible through the generosity of local businesses who act as sponsors for the program. Their sponsorship pays for the newspapers to be delivered to participating classroom teachers each week. The newspapers are used by the teachers as another classroom resource. The newspaper becomes a living textbook that is always up-to-date and filled with information that becomes a tool for learning.

According to the Missouri Press Association, research indicates that students who use newspapers in their classroom curriculum increase and improve their reading skills, verbal interaction, achievement scores and awareness of the world and their communities. In fact, students in schools with at least some NIE programs did better on standardized reading tests than those in schools without an NIE program.

A new study conducted by the Newspaper Association of America Foundation reveals that interaction with news as a teen is an important indicator of future civic involvement. Specifically, the study showed that use of newspapers in the classroom encouraged young people to: get involved in volunteer work and fundraising to improve their local communities; engage in civic expression such as signing a petition or speaking at a public meeting; and participate in election campaigns by voting or encouraging others to vote.

It is amazing to see the many different ways newspapers can be utilized to teach core curriculum concepts at all grade levels. For example, the newspaper can be used to teach about government as students learn how their local governments function through the newspaper's coverage of city council, school board and county commission meetings. Math skills can also be honed through the newspaper. Sports scores, percentages and budgets provide interesting ways for students to practice their math skills. There are also opportunities to use newspapers to teach about forming opinions, vocabulary, writing styles, history, photography, design concepts, democracy and research, to name just a few.

We also don't want to hide the obvious fact that getting young people to read the newspaper helps ensure that these youngsters will one day become subscribers themselves. It is our goal to produce lifelong newspaper readers who will one day become productive, engaged and informed citizens. After reading this, if you want to learn more about the Cassville Democrat's NIE program, please call the office (847-2610) or send an e-mail to cassvilledemocrat@mchsi.com. We would love to see our program expand and enrich the lives of more Barry County students.