Newspaper in Education (NIE) Program

Newspaper experience inspires young minds (Yomiuri Shimbun Jul 1, 2010)

Nobuyuki Sakai
Following is the last in a three-part series of excerpts from The Yomiuri Shimbun’s Education Renaissance series. This series focuses on the Newspapers in Education (NIE) program.
“Japanese athletes win medals: They did it!” “Big winter moments: Speedy performances earn prizes and medals.” These were among the lead headlines in Olympic-themed newspapers made by third-grade students of municipal Higashiyamato No. 4 Primary School in western Tokyo.
Working in groups, the students produced their handmade newspapers–which focused on the performances of athletes in the Vancouver Winter Olympic Games–by collecting actual newspaper clippings in scrapbooks and adding editorial content of their own.
Teacher Ayako Ishiguro, 54, was in charge of the class. She conceived of the project after realizing how much children could learn from the deeds and attitudes of athletes, who push themselves to the limit against tough competition in sometimes desperate situations.
“I thought newspaper reports with details about the athletes could make great teaching materials,” she said.
But simply having third-graders begin reading newspapers immediately was too big a task, so Ishiguro planned a series of preparatory projects months before the Olympic Games began.
Firstly, she asked the students to search newspapers for photographs that caught their interest, and to see how much information they could glean just from the images.
Photos catching a person’s facial expression or body language give strong indications of their thoughts and feelings. Even without deep knowledge of the person pictured or the situational context of the photograph, students could learn how to use imagination and logical deduction when reviewing information.
The teacher used a newspaper article about a handicapped girl with leg problems, who had struggled against and overcome a number of difficult situations, to get students thinking in terms of human drama.
By the start of the Winter Olympics in February, the students had learned how to find and clip articles with photographs that they felt a personal connection to.
The student groups pooled their chosen articles and held editorial meetings to discuss the makeup of their newspapers–deciding which topics to focus on, designing an eye-catching layout and writing snappy headlines and informative captions. The students enthusiastically exchanged opinions.
One team’s newspaper focused on figure skating. Their lead headline read: “Moved to tears: Self-belief and skating all-out.” A photograph of skater Mao Asada was accompanied by the caption: “She was defeated by Kim Yu Na, who is the same age as her. But it was wonderful that she won the silver when participating in the Olympic Games for the first time. She did a great performance because she believed in her ability and did her best.”
In a meeting to wrap up the activity held in March, each of the students told what he or she wanted to express in the handmade newspapers.
A 10-year-old boy, who wrote the “Moved to tears” element of the headline, explained why he thought the phrase captured the essence of the story. “Because the supporters were moved, and because [the athletes’] parents were also moved by the performance of the athletes,” he said.
The experience of reading newspapers improved the children’s skills in analyzing information and expressing their opinions. Students who read the group’s figure skating edition made positive observations.
“It was useful to look up the meanings of words in the headlines with a dictionary,” one said. Observed another: “Brushing up your skills is necessary in sports. I realized the same thing is true for my studies.”

Nobuyuki Sakai / Yomiuri Shimbun Staff Writer
Following is the last in a three-part series of excerpts from The Yomiuri Shimbun’s Education Renaissance series. This series focuses on the Newspapers in Education (NIE) program.
“Japanese athletes win medals: They did it!” “Big winter moments: Speedy performances earn prizes and medals.” These were among the lead headlines in Olympic-themed newspapers made by third-grade students of municipal Higashiyamato No. 4 Primary School in western Tokyo.
Working in groups, the students produced their handmade newspapers–which focused on the performances of athletes in the Vancouver Winter Olympic Games–by collecting actual newspaper clippings in scrapbooks and adding editorial content of their own.
Teacher Ayako Ishiguro, 54, was in charge of the class. She conceived of the project after realizing how much children could learn from the deeds and attitudes of athletes, who push themselves to the limit against tough competition in sometimes desperate situations.
“I thought newspaper reports with details about the athletes could make great teaching materials,” she said.
But simply having third-graders begin reading newspapers immediately was too big a task, so Ishiguro planned a series of preparatory projects months before the Olympic Games began.
Firstly, she asked the students to search newspapers for photographs that caught their interest, and to see how much information they could glean just from the images.
Photos catching a person’s facial expression or body language give strong indications of their thoughts and feelings. Even without deep knowledge of the person pictured or the situational context of the photograph, students could learn how to use imagination and logical deduction when reviewing information.
The teacher used a newspaper article about a handicapped girl with leg problems, who had struggled against and overcome a number of difficult situations, to get students thinking in terms of human drama.
By the start of the Winter Olympics in February, the students had learned how to find and clip articles with photographs that they felt a personal connection to.
The student groups pooled their chosen articles and held editorial meetings to discuss the makeup of their newspapers–deciding which topics to focus on, designing an eye-catching layout and writing snappy headlines and informative captions. The students enthusiastically exchanged opinions.
One team’s newspaper focused on figure skating. Their lead headline read: “Moved to tears: Self-belief and skating all-out.” A photograph of skater Mao Asada was accompanied by the caption: “She was defeated by Kim Yu Na, who is the same age as her. But it was wonderful that she won the silver when participating in the Olympic Games for the first time. She did a great performance because she believed in her ability and did her best.”
In a meeting to wrap up the activity held in March, each of the students told what he or she wanted to express in the handmade newspapers.
A 10-year-old boy, who wrote the “Moved to tears” element of the headline, explained why he thought the phrase captured the essence of the story. “Because the supporters were moved, and because [the athletes’] parents were also moved by the performance of the athletes,” he said.
The experience of reading newspapers improved the children’s skills in analyzing information and expressing their opinions. Students who read the group’s figure skating edition made positive observations.
“It was useful to look up the meanings of words in the headlines with a dictionary,” one said. Observed another: “Brushing up your skills is necessary in sports. I realized the same thing is true for my studies.”

(Jul. 1, 2010)

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