News = nonfiction reading


Newspapers offer too many educational opportunities to pass up – both for news organizations and teachers.

For print media, promoting newspapers in the classroom gets the next generation of readers interested in vital community information that newspapers provide.

From a teaching point of view, newspapers offer the only “textbook” that is updated daily or weekly.

Members of the Indiana News­paper in Education Advisory Board and Foundation discussed ways to communicate those two core NIE principles to teachers and publishers at a recent meeting of the group at the HSPA Foundation office in Indianapolis.

Educators on the board say they enjoy the ease of using newspapers in the classroom. They are helping to spread the word about lesson plans using the newspaper offered for free every week on the HSPA Foundation website,

Chris Judson, journalism and English teacher at Concord High School in Elkhart and a recent addition to the advisory board, said newspapers have always been part of daily instruction in his journalism classes.

“For the past few years I’ve used it in my other classes as well,” he said. “I’m surprised more teachers don’t use it.”

Judson, past president of the Indiana State Reading Association, receives The Elkhart Truth in print three days a week for his classes at no charge.

He prefers a hard copy to electronic media. As a teacher, he can more easily see which sections of the paper his students read and ask what they think about the news, he said.

At Avon High School, Librarian Robyn Young utilizes an e-edition of The Indianapolis Star in her efforts to encourage newspaper reading.

Young, past president of the Indiana NIE Advisory Board, sends a link to The Star’s e-edition to teachers and students daily through their school email accounts.

Avon teachers are using the newspaper to meet educational standards that now place more emphasis on nonfiction reading, Young said.

“Teachers can pull up articles on projectors and have the students read them as part of a class activity,” she said.

Teachers need to know that newspapers directly meet Common Core Standards for informational text, aka nonfiction, Young said.

The Herald (Jasper) tries to keep newspapers in the minds of area teachers and students through a special section they publish annually, said Justin Rumbach, managing editor and president of the Indiana NIE Advisory Board.

The paper considers it a way to promote community literacy, Rumbach said.

Since the 1960s, The Herald has solicited student-produced letters to the editor and advertisements for the section. The paper prints about 11,000 copies.

“It’s a fun way to get kids excited about reading and issues in the community,” he said.

The Herald distributes free newspapers in area schools, and Rumbach hopes other newspapers make schools a priority in their community outreach.

“I hope we can find ways – e-editions, the web – to get our product into classrooms,” he said.

Sure, the newspaper covers Common Core Standards, but news is also just plain good reading for students, Judson said.

“It does have an effect on their lives,” he said.