Hundreds Attend Reading Reform Foundation Conference
E.D. Hirsch, Jr.
Silberstein-Storfer, Founder of Art for Children
, Metropolitan Museum of Art
G. Miller, Senior Specialist, Customer Operations,
In a workshop on using
the newspaper to develop skills, Roz Eskenazi, a consultant
to The New York Times Knowledge Network, shared tips and
examples of exciting and effective ways to incorporate daily
papers into the curriculum. The newspaper is “a living
textbook,” she explained, “that
addresses things in a child’s world.” It can be
used to develop vocabulary, comprehension, and analytical skills.
A newspaper has no reading level; each writer has his or her
own style and a teacher has “to know her own kids” and
determine what is usable. Generally, students can benefit from
newspapers from grades 5 or 6 on. As one workshop participant
suggested, “If the article is difficult, the reach can
be good. It may stretch the mind.” The teacher should
filter stories and information for appropriateness. News journals
offer well-written, well-edited English. Many papers note mistakes
in a “corrections” section, setting a good example.
Some specific classroom uses of the newspaper include: photos
as prompts for creative writing, research projects based on
news stories, differentiating fact from opinion in editorials
and advertisements, identifying new words, analyzing political
ads, developing a science vocabulary, distinguishing domestic
from international news, and using news summaries and briefs
to teach succinct writing. Fun and fruitful projects might
include a scavenger hunt in which students look in the paper
for such things as an unfamiliar name of a country, the e-mail
address of an editor, an article illustrated by a map, a new
word, the name of a reviewed book or movie, and the page that
has the most information about money and the economy. A rich
teaching tool is obituaries of important people. Obituaries
tend to be more accurate and up-to-date than textbooks and
contain history, biography, and unique perspectives. They may
help children examine themselves and their place in the world.
A useful writing and civics lesson might be selecting an article
about an issue of concern, identifying a person or advocacy
group in the article, and composing an opinion letter to be
sent to that contact.
An enriching workshop
on improving reading comprehension entitled “Becoming
a Strategic Reader” was given by Dr. Eileen S. Marzola,
Professor at Teachers College. Marzola provided instrumental
assessment tools for diagnosing reading difficulties and provided
research that confirmed that retention is significant through
the use of teacher generated questions, but 20 percent higher
when students generate their own questions.
The Reading Reform Foundation offers educators classes based
on solid research, direct classroom training, an annual conference
with workshops, and follow-up support. Sandra Priest Rose is
a founding trustee and enthusiastic guiding force of the foundation.
Many thanks to Con Edison, represented by Philip Miller, the
corporate sponsor of this great event.#