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Newspapers enhance perspective learning

| Thursday, Dec. 26, 2013, 3:51 a.m.
Jennifer R. Vertullo | Daily News
Writing descriptive paragraphs based on newspaper photographs are Clairton fifth-graders, from left, Jermont Meacham, Raymier Surratt and Colton Snowden.

Clairton students across elementary, middle and high school grade levels are using newspapers as classroom tools.

In every subject from reading to social studies, newspapers are proving to be curriculum-enhancing resources that give students a new perspective on basic lessons.

Fifth-grade teacher Lucille Herndon's class recently completed a writing lesson using photos from The Daily News and other periodicals. Choosing an image of interest to them, students wrote descriptive paragraphs.

“I like doing projects like this because it's fun,” Nakiya Johnson said. “We can do fun stuff in class and help each other.”

Students said stepping outside of their standard curriculum allows for more creativity in the classroom.

“I've got a big imagination,” Lyric Greene said. “When I see these pictures, I can come up with so many things to write about. It's like we're writing our own stories.”

Herndon said students learn more when they're challenged by new material, and newspapers provide that on a daily basis. It's always fresh, always interesting.

“They can do a variety of things,” Herndon said. “For them, it's like a new tool. It's hands on. It's a different avenue we take, rather than just text books.”

Students are thinking rather than memorizing when searching for their lessons in a text that's different every day. They search the pages for parts of speech, punctuation and other concepts.

“It's always new material,” Herndon said.

High school teacher Carl Schmidt encourages students to browse newspapers on a daily basis.

“Everybody says we should be teaching students to prepare themselves for the real world,” he said. “I'd say they're already in the real world. We are preparing them for the adult world, and newspapers are filled with positive and negative examples of what that world is like.”

In Schmidt's American cultures class, students review current events. They discuss them and develop projects based on them.

“We'll talk about something, define it and explain it,” junior Ziare Rosser said. “It keeps you up to date with the government and what's going on in the world.”

Jennifer R. Vertullo is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-664-9161 ext. 1956, or