When The St. Louis American started a Newspaper In Education (NIE) program in August, many area teachers quickly embraced the program and adapted it to using the newspaper in their classrooms. The program, in its first year of existence, rapidly grew to one of the largest NIE programs in Missouri, providing free newspapers to more than 5,000 students in 203 classrooms.
One teacher, in particular, stated she was “passionate” about using The St. Louis American in her classroom, using it “five times per week.” According to Gateway MST Elementary School teacher Rhonda Stovall, the newspaper has become “part of her curriculum.”
Stovall said she uses The American’s STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) page each week in her fifth grade class. One of their favorite parts of the STEM page is the “Inventors & Inventions” piece.
“I encourage my students to think about the historical time period in which many of the inventions were created and how their world was so different than ours,” Stovall said.
Her class researches the careers of each week’s highlighted inventors. Stovall also uses the math and science portions of the page as tie-in activities, hands-on applications and as a source of review.
But teaching using the newspaper doesn’t stop there for Stovall. She said she uses The American as her opening “Do Now” activity, which is the first assignment that her students have daily.
“My students peruse the newspaper and locate an article of interest that they would like to discuss, summarize, graph data from or use in class,” said Stovall.
She uses the newspaper as part of her foundation.
“I directly tie my newspaper activities with the Missouri Standards, Common Core Standards, as well as the SLPS district’s CLEAR guide,” said Stovall. “I use the newspaper to teach text features, so that my students become young adults and adults who ready the newspaper on a daily basis.”
For her efforts, last week Stovall received The St. Louis American’s first Golden Apple Award. The Golden Apple Award is presented to one outstanding teacher, each semester, who is consistently and successfully using The St. Louis American’s NIE program in his or her classroom with tangible results.
“My students cut the newspaper to find verbs, nouns, adjectives,” she said. “I use the newspaper during my guided reading time to encourage reading at a higher level for my proficient and advanced students, as well as to encourage my basic readers by selecting articles I know will interest them.”
During the campaign for the November 2012 election, Stovall’s classroom used The St. Louis American to help prepare for a mock voting exercise in class.
“We used the newspaper to understand the platform of each candidate and their overall predicted impact on the economy,” Stovall said. “My students have written their own editorials in response to questions and views written in the newspaper.”
But Stovall uses more than the paper’s news and opinion pages. “I have used the Business section to discuss the economy and the recession,” she said. “I use the Sports section to discuss data and highlights. I have used the Classified section to educate students about finding jobs and the skills needed to land a job.”
Stovall said her class also uses The American’s “Your Health Matters” section in a unique way.
“Many of my students have family members who have illnesses that are discussed in the health section,” said Stovall. “We have created brochures in class that reflect the health tips featured in the section. Students were asked to place the name of the relative impacted on the brochure and distribute it to that particular family member.”
In addition to her award, Stovall received a $250 Visa gift card for additional resources for her classroom and a $100 Visa gift card for her personal use. Stovall’s classroom will also be sent on a field trip to the Saint Louis Science Center, with all expenses paid for by The St. Louis American.