The Caledonia Argus use in middle school reading curriculum

Barb Rollins

Middle School Instructor

You could say newspaper ink flows in my veins. For better than 100 years The Caledonia Argus has been in the Ryan and Murphy families. My ancestors and siblings have shared the same affection toward newspapers of any kind, but The Caledonia Argus will always be near and dear to our hearts.

When I began teaching reading at the middle school in 1997 in the Caledonia Public Schools, I knew that utilizing The Caledonia Argus in the middle school reading classroom was an important part of the curriculum.

Reading the newspaper as part of the reading curriculum supports a variety of reading-related skills. Students are given time to self-select articles of interest and read independently.  During independent and whole-class oral reading time, students encounter new vocabulary, make inferences, process cause/effect, and fact/opinion statements.

Many middle school students eagerly look forward to reading the sports section, thinking about the day when their name will be in the highlights. Others seek-out their photos as part of the cast of the all-school play, FFA, Beyond the Bell, 4-H, community activities, etc.  The classified and display ads are poured over to determine where the best garage sales are, or where they can locate a used dirt bike that fits their budget. Reading the What’s New?, local news, obituaries and human interest stories is important for many middle school readers.   Students also become better informed about school, community and county issues through reading and discussing newspaper articles with their classmates each week.

Middle school students are naturally curious, and for some, reading the Houston County Sheriff’s Report, The Caledonia Police Blotter and the Public Record has become part of their independent reading time.

Acquiring new vocabulary is important in the further development of reading skills.  During independent reading, students keep a log of new words they encounter.  Students then share their words with the class, and they determine meaning either through the context the word is used in, or a dictionary is consulted. News articles are often read aloud in class, further developing oral reading and listening skills, as well as a topic for discussion.

This year local businesses and individuals have partnered with The Caledonia Argus to support the NIE (Newspaper in Education) Program. They have generously donated 90 newspapers each week for use at Caledonia Middle/High School, which has expanded the readership this year  to include high school students in Sue Link’s English class and Kim Torgeson’s high school resource room. More than 200 students read the newspaper on Wednesdays, thanks to the sponsorship from businesses, individuals and The Caledonia Argus.

The students at the middle and high school are grateful to be able to read The Caledonia Argus each week. Together we’d like to thank the sponsors that have made the NIE program possible, and look forward to reading The Caledonia Argus in the classroom for many years to come.

Barb Rollins is a middle school reading instructor.