Wednesday, July 13, 2011

News You Need

It's August, and a group of hands are waving in a kindergarten class.  The teacher is leading her students in a daily activity, News of the Day.  A student is chosen to come to the front of the class.  "What would you like to share today?"  the teacher asks.  The student is excited to be in the front of the class, however, just shrugs and smiles.  The teacher patiently asks a series of questions.  "What did you do yesterday?"  "What would you like the class to know about you?"  After a quick nod of the head, the teacher continues her assistance in forming the students "News of the Day."  Together the teacher and student orchestrate the sentence, "I went to the beach with my mom and brother." There is power in this seemingly simple interaction.  In the earliest of learing situations, the groundwork for later learning destinations is established. 

In order for teaching to be effective, it must be relevant and meaningful to the learner.   What did I do?  What news can I tell about myself?  For our youngest learners, news, is what is going on in their world.  As they grow, their world becomes larger and moves from awareness of themselves to include an awareness of community, state, country and then world. 

Fast forward five years.  Our kindergarten students are now sitting in a fifth grade class.  How does the "News of the Day" look now?  At this age, what is the news that is relevant and meaningful to them?  More importantly, how do we, as teachers, make the news of today accessible for our students, especially those students that struggle?  Kelly Gallagher , author of Deep Reading and Article of the Week, assigns an "Article of the Week" to his students.  Gallagher says, "Part of the reason my students have such a hard time reading is because they bring little prior knowledge and background to the written page.  They can decode the words, but the words remain meaningless without a foundation of knowledge." (

When thinking about our instruction and student learning on a continuum, news plays an important role.  It begins with the student in an egocentric state; however, the continuation of  News of the Day is vital to growing literate, socially conscious citizens.  At each level of learning, news connects, builds social awareness, and inspires our students as it establishes a foundation of knowledge.

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