NY Times NIE Program Shows Teachers How To Boost Learning With Its Online Resources
Although The New York Times has had an education program since the 1930s, the newspaper’s value as a teaching tool has broadened significantly with the addition of an ambitious digital component. With free classroom subscriptions to its Electronic Edition, open access to its content-rich online Learning Network, accessible article archives going back to 1851, and a Newspaper in Education Web site, The Times offers teachers and students an array of possibilities to interact with the paper and to learn.
At a recent “Teacher Appreciation Day” held in the spectacular new glass-enclosed, light-filled, Renzo Piano- designed Times Tower, teachers interested in learning how to integrate The Times into their curriculum were offered strategies on how to most effectively utilize its myriad education resources. Under the able leadership of Stephanie Doba, the Newspaper in Education manager, teachers learned that the Electronic Edition, which shows the daily paper exactly as it appears in print, allows students and teachers to “experience the newspaper format” but access it online. Her theme was that teaching students to use the Times and its online resources leads to better quality research and learning. Daily downloadable lesson plans, curriculum guides, and activities relating to the day’s paper provide professional support.
Holly Ojalvo develops and edits content for The New York Times Learning Network, nytimes.com/learning. She explained that teachers can use The Times as a research tool and as a model of how research is collected and used. Working back from an article, students can determine sources used and questions asked. They learn how writing style sets tone and blogs add reactions. For their own research, students can go to Times Topics, a “virtual encyclopedia” that features high-quality information on thousands of topics including relevant Times articles, graphics, audio and video guides, and links to selected outside sources. The New York Times Article Archive contains a complete back file of articles from 1851 to the present. The Times Machine has digital images of old issues of the paper. For broader research, Times Navigator allows teachers to direct students to qualified, vetted outside sources. Innovative online features include Word Train, which follows a word and shows the various ways it has been used in the paper. The Learning Network contains specific pages for teachers, students and parents and includes daily lesson plans linked to Times articles, news summaries of top stories, a daily test prep question and vocabulary word, “conversation starters” for parents, a science Q- and-A, as well as other interactive materials. Popular features include On This Day in History, the Daily News Quiz and student crossword puzzles. Curriculum guides and activities can be downloaded from The New York Times Newspaper in Education Web site, nytimes.com/nie.
Teacher Appreciation Day abounded with tips on using the Times as a learning tool. Robert Greenman, author and veteran teacher of high school English and journalism, showed teachers how to find teaching opportunities in any day’s issue of The Times. Vocabulary words abound in the brief TV listings, in movie titles and headlines. Police stories are good examples of use of “attribution.” Obituaries are rich in history and biographical information. Students should learn the differences between news stories and features, editorials and news articles, anonymous and named sources, and newspaper and television news. Within stories, examples of differences in governments, gender roles, education and religion are just some of countless, easily adapted teaching points. Students can find articles that put into context textbook words such as social security, president’s Cabinet, public opinion, civil rights, and foreign policy. Language arts instruction can benefit from the Times as a model of good writing.
Some teachers expressed concern over students copying verbatim from online sites and the difficulty of judging reliability of sources. In answer, other participants suggested lessons to stem these problems such as learning to write summaries and doing research in class under teacher supervision. Reliability of a source may be checked through background research, corroboration with other sources, and determination of “point of view.”
Even as the wealth of digital material was being reviewed, it was noted that the familiar print edition of the Times endures and continues to engage students.
For information on the Electronic Edition and free teaching resources, go to NYTimes.com/nie.#