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Sep 29, 2016 08:30 AM EDT

Professor Shows How Newspapers Can be an Effective Tool in Teaching Social Studies


A lot of Social Studies majors and teachers might not have realized it but newspapers can be a very effective tool to make their class more engaging and fun. Sarah Hartman, an assistant professor of teacher education at College of Coastal Georgia, believes so and requires her students to use newspapers during her class made up of middle school education majors.

Hartman teaches Social Studies Methods class and the requirement is to make a point to her class that newspapers can be an effective tool to teach Social Studies to middle school students. She understands how it can be challenging to Social Studies teacher to engage young students in studying Social Studies; thus, instead of depending on textbooks, newspapers and other alternative teaching tools to enhance their classes.

"We've looked at how to interpret different forms of the media and use that to teach social studies with, and we've prepared old newspapers for primary documents and teaching with those compared to a new newspaper,"

Hartman's class uses both old and new newspapers to evaluate and compare both current and past events in search of other effective teaching methods that is related to the topic being taught.

For example, the class is going to conduct a 'tour' for eight-grade students to a local cemetery and use the dates on the gravestone to teach local history to these kids. Hartman assigned her students to research the dates and the person indicated on the gravestone by using newspapers and other research tools.

The results of the search are interesting. One student who was researching the gravestone of a man who died in the 19th century said she saw how real and prevalent racial biases were in those days that they were worthy of mention in local newspapers.

Various research has been made on the impact of newspapers as a learning tool for students. Not only do they improve the child's reading skills but their spelling and vocabulary as well. A research conducted by Dr. Dan Sullivan of the University of Minnesota showed that students who read newspapers have higher test scores than those who don't.

For Charile Postell, a senior in Hartman's class, newspapers provide students with a more enriching study experience.
"In a lot of ways, it's more effective than looking it up on the internet, because you can use it to show students that information isn't all online or in a book," she said.

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