Before Multicultural Restructuring
Area: Social Studies
and Language Arts
Period: Entire School
Year on a Weekly Basis (15 minutes per day)
Students will demonstrate the ability to locate and summarize
orally the contents of newspaper articles on current events.
Students will develop the propensity to stay abreast of current
In most elementary schools, sharing is a part of the daily and
weekly routine of the classroom. During
this time, primary grade students come to the front of the class to
present something they have brought to show or discuss with classmates.
Some teachers make this a required activity and others leave it
optional, but practically all teachers encourage parents and students to
participate in this informal public speaking event. Typically, the activity is arranged on a schedule so that
students and parents will know the day of the week each student is
expected to be a presenter.
In the upper grades
(4th-6th and in some middle school classrooms) the
sharing of personal experiences, toys, and other objects from home
gradually gives way to activities more closely related to the academic
curriculum. In one common
extension of primary grade sharing, upper-grade students present one
current events article on a weekly or biweekly basis in front of the
establish a rationale and routine for current events sharing and
present it to their students. They
might explain that staying aware of current events is a natural part
of citizenship responsibilities and survival strategies for most
adults in our society, and that most adults get their current events
update from a variety of sources, including radio and TV news,
newspapers, and various newsmagazines.
teacher might then say, “To help develop the desire to stay in
touch with important news events, all students in the class
throughout the entire year will have the weekly or biweekly
responsibility to give an oral report on a news article of their
this, the teacher will set up ground rules such as the following:
student will be given a specific day of the week on which to give
the oral report.
occasion, the students can pass up the opportunity to be a
presenter but must let the teacher know before sharing time.
will neatly cut out the articles they are summarizing, so these
can be posted on the current events bulletin board.
their presenting day, all students will be responsible for
providing a written and oral summary of their news articles.
The summary will, minimally, answer these questions:
Who or what was the news story about?
What happened in the story?
Where did the story take place?
Why did you find this story interesting?
What questions, if any, do you have about this news story?
the oral summary, students can ask questions to be answered by the
presenter or other students in the class. The teacher moderates this part of the presentation.
the oral presentation, the student’s written remarks will be
submitted to the teacher, and the student’s newspaper article
will be posted on the bulletin board with his or her name neatly
written in. Articles
will be posted and removed on a weekly or biweekly basis.
When the articles are taken down, students can keep or
This format has several positive features but also notable flaws. It follows the traditional individualistic pattern of
teaching and learning-students work alone-for an entire year with no
modification of structure. The
sheer repetition of the activity would probably dull student motivation
long before June. Thus, as
structured, the activity does little to promote educational equity or
intergroup harmony. Regarding
educational equity, it is noteworthy that the teacher assumes that all
children in the class will have access to newspapers.
With one out of four young children growing up in poverty in
America, this is an inappropriate assumption.
Also, for limited English proficient speakers and others, a
format that allowed the presenter to address a smaller group, say 8
students rather than 32, would likely be more constructive for this type
of public speaking event. In addition, teachers utilizing this traditional format do
not exploit the potential for involving students in collaborative
deliberation in this year-long project, and typically do little to
promote parental support for the activity.
Finally, the routine nature of the instructional activity-where
week after week the students have the same responsibilities-severely
limits its instructional value. For
example, as structured, the activity does little to promote awareness of
the manner in which the news media select and “create” news;
the distinction between local, regional, state, national, and
the distinction between profit-making, and nonprofit-making news
the fact that selected cultural and ethnic groups in the United
States create their own sources of daily, weekly, and monthly news;
the various ways in which telecommunications can expand
students’ and teachers’ perceptions of current events by creating
two-way electronic mail communication between classrooms in different
school districts, states, and nations.
Some of the deficiencies
are addressed in the revised activity structure that follows.
Area: Social Studies
and Language Arts
Period: Entire School
Year for Varying Amounts of Time (the activity may be dropped in
certain weeks and months.)
The learner will demonstrate increased knowledge of news
production and dissemination in the United States.
The learner will demonstrate the ability to locate, summarize,
and evaluate the contents of various forms of current events reportage
(print, radio, and television news).
The learner will develop an interest in staying abreast of the
newsletter, the teacher informs parents that a yearlong study of
news gathering and reporting will soon commence, and that, within
two weeks, students will be asking parents to donate newspapers,
magazines, and other print sources for projects.
Parents with experience in news gathering or reporting are
encouraged to share their experiences with the class.
Teachers can also solicit newspapers from professionals and
various business organizations.
teacher introduces the activity in an open-ended way by asking
students what they think current news is, and what they think
current events means; then the teacher has all students describe, in
writing, what they do to stay aware of current events.
teacher asks students to brainstorm the following question: “In
what different ways could the students in this class, working
together, become more knowledgeable about news gathering and
reporting in our community, state, and nation?”
The teacher then analyzes and uses some of the student ideas
to establish the initial structure for current events sharing.
teacher arranges to have a class library, in which a range of
recently published newspapers and magazines will be made available
for student to read and cut articles form; there will also be a
weekly classroom newspaper from a source such as Scholastic, Inc.
or Weekly Reader, if the school budget permits.
teacher tells the class that for the first few months, the class
will employ several strategies to increase their knowledge base.
“After the new year we’ll evaluate our progress, and perhaps
adopt some new strategies. The
strategies we will use now include cooperative group sharing of
newspaper and magazine articles, presentations by and interviews of
local journalists and publishers, individual and buddy research
papers on news-related topics, and weekly or biweekly discussion of
articles form the class newspaper, My Weekly Reader.”
student in the class has one partner and is also a member of a
four-or-five student team. The
teams are established in late September and stay together for about
6 or 12 weeks; if 12 weeks, the students can switch partners.
For reporting on newspapers or magazine current events
articles as delineated in the “before” activity, two teams of
four students each can be combined.
Half the group of eight students can report on Tuesday while
the other half reports on the following Tuesday, or the groups can
rotate on a weekly basis. By
utilizing small cooperative groups for the reporting activity,
rather than having each child speak n front of 32 students, the
teacher (a) creates a more supportive climate, (b) allows more time
for other types of sharing, because the four-student group takes
less reporting time than the whole-group model, and (c) provides a
setting that permits more active language involvement for a wider
range of students.
this extra time, during certain weeks the teacher can report on a
current events article he or she found interesting. In addition, in a modified Meet the Press format,
the students can, on a biannual or more frequent basis, arrange to
interview a local print or television journalist or publisher from
the English and non-English media.
If the more frequent basis is chosen, interviewing other
community personalities like the junior high school principal, town
sheriff, or school custodian may also prove illuminating.
Student research projects about famous journalists,
specialized ethnic and cultural publications, and current issues
about problems facing the journalists and the newspaper industry can
also be reported on occasionally.
questions students ask journalists and publishers during the Meet
the Press interviews should be as probing as possible.
For this reason, the students will be encouraged to ask their
parents and older siblings for ideas, and parents will be invited to
the Thursday or Friday afternoon interview.
These sessions can also be videotaped.
The teacher can suggest questions that reveal the economic
basis and political dimension of local newspapers.
For example, why do some papers cost money while others are
given away? How are
“given-away” papers similar to television stations?
In terms of expressing political preferences and opinions,
what are some differences between newspapers and television?
What is the difference between public radio and television
and commercial radio and television?
the course of the year, teachers will bring variety to the weekly
articles from the class newspaper as the basis for
students to vary the type of current events they report on, in
terms of the source of the news (local, regional, state, national,
and international levels of news), and type of news: sports,
politics, entertainment, scientific, education;
students carry out comparisons of local newspapers, local
newspapers versus local television in their treatment of a
specific story, and analyses of what is included and excluded from
local newspapers as well as the class newspaper;
current events to historical anniversaries like the Columbus
Quincentennial (1992); the fiftieth anniversary of Brown v. Board
of Education (1994), the integration of major league baseball
(1997) and the U.S. armed forces (1998), and the creation of the
State of Israel (1998);
each group of eight students keep a scrapbook of the articles they
have reported, and by occasionally inviting several students from
each group to present one of their articles in front of the whole
student volunteers go out to interview and videotape fellow
students, teachers, parents, and administrators about a specific
controversial current event.
The class can view, discuss, and critique the videotaped
The “after” treatment of the current events activity took a
routine activity, almost a time filler, and transformed it into a more
ambitious collaborative undertaking.
Because the current events activity lacks a unifying theme and
has the potential, with ongoing modifications, to last an entire year,
it does not fall within the lesson sequence or unit parameters.
But as the horizons of the activity are expanded, it takes on
some unitlike characteristics. In
addition, in any given month the teacher can make current events part of
a more elaborate unit of instruction.
For example, the teacher can lead the class into a unit related
to the development and production of a class newsletter or paper.
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