Newspapers inspire students to learn about community, world

By Staff
John Hicks FCT Staff Writer
On Monday morning at Belgreen School, every student in Mrs. Emily Blanton's fourth-grade class was reading the newspaper.
T.J. Hardin called his teacher's attention to the opinion page, where an editorial cartoon about bird flu showed two police officers talking in their squad car.
"Look," one of the cops says. "The first robin of spring."
"Yeah," replies the other cop. "We better bring him in for questioning."
Hardin laughed and said the editorial cartoons were his favorite part of the paper.
"They're funny and true," he said.
But the students weren't just reading – they were writing, too.
"Today's assignment is to pick one article from the paper, read it, and write a summary of it," said Blanton. "I told them to look for the name of somebody they know, or to find an article on a subject that interests them."
Many of the students did read about people they knew, since the paper they were leafing through was the Franklin County Times.
Blanton's class is one of more than 15 across Franklin County that participates in the FCT's "Newspapers in Education" program.
"It's a good learning tool," said Charles Pounders, circulation manager of the FCT. Pounders distributes more than 300 papers a week to area schools.
Many of Blanton's students wrote about news stories that affected their community, while others summed up sports stories featuring Belgreen athletes.
In addition to their newspaper assignments, the students were very excited about the projects they'd been carrying out as part of the Alabama Math, Science, and Technology Initiative.
"The teachers spent two weeks training for AMSTI last summer," said Blanton. "We receive free materials we use to carry out experiments and projects, and then we pass the materials on to another school when we're finished with them. Recently, the students constructed habitats for crabs, millipedes and African dwarf frogs."
Except for one runaway millipede that was quickly recaptured, the habitats were a success, said Blanton. The class also built miniature houses to learn about circuitry and electricity.
Sponsorships are available for local businesses or individuals who would like to be involved in the "Newspapers in Education" program.
"It's good exposure for a local business," said Pounders, noting that a free ad thanking the sponsors appears frequently in the FCT. "Many teachers send the papers home with the students, so the parents get a chance to see who's sponsoring the program, too."
Sponsors can support the class or classes of their choice.
If you'd like become an NIE sponsor, contact Pounders at 332-1881.
"We're starting to recruit sponsors for the next school year," said Pounders. "We're always looking for new businesses that want to get involved."

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