"The exercise came at the end of a long day of presentations," said Aralynn McMane, executive director of young readership development, "and it was supposed to be much simpler -- just find a couple of images or words that could work for such an exercise with students. Next thing we knew, teachers were spread all over the room making full-blown advertisements, some more than a meter long!"
The exercise is part of WAN-IFRA's work for 3 May Press Freedom Day and encourages newspapers to work with teachers to organize a "Design an Advertisement" contest or activity using the cartoons, photos and other materials available at www.worldpressfreedomday.org. More about that design an ad project HERE.
Cristiane Parente, executive coordinator of newspapers in education for the Brazilian Newspaper Association, described how ANJ assists educators there teach about press freedom, including through broadcast of its national conference on the subject and a school newspaper prize for press freedom. (More about doing such a contest HERE.)
The session itself, which was supported by WAN-IFRA's Newspapers in Education Development Project in partnership with the global paper producer Norske Skog, revealed a wide array of good practice by teachers who used the newspaper as an educational tool, often in very in challenging circumstances. Here are some examples:
User-generated content by youth. Carlos Bedoya Ortiz an educator at I.E. Francisco de Paula Santander Zaragoza -- Antioquia, explained how students learned about both technology and creating text by sending submissions to El Colombiano's TIPS user generated news service and described how pleased the students were when the paper chose to use the information.
From reading as punishment to reading as fun. Working with El Meridiano de Córdoba (Monteria), Jaime de los Ríos worked with parents and students to encourage an interest in reading by removing the notion of punishment (having to write the same phrase many times, for example) and encouraging children to become reporters about their passions.
We write a story. La Cronica del Quindio (Armenia) created a fiction contest in its region, where many people work for coffee growers. Forty-seven of the region's 55 schools participated with students submitting a total 2 350 stories from children as young as 9-years-old. The paper's NIE coordinator, Lina Milena Gonzales, got university students to help with the pre-judging.
Basic skills and beyond -- at age 6. Mónica López Gil works with kindergarten students at a military base school. When the music teacher stopped by and sat on the stack of El Colombianos in the corner, on child objected. "Papers are not for sitting, he said, they are for reading!" The class uses the newspaper to learn basic skills, recognizing letters, numbers and shapes, etc., but also does more in-depth analysis of news. They read stories out loud and discuss the content and even go do their own reporting. For example, educator Mônica López Gil described "Project Héroe," in which the children identified heroes from newspaper stories and from fiction, determining the differences between the two kinds of heroes. Then they went to visit a local "heroes" -- university students who were helping families in one of the poorest parts of the city and brought toys and clothes they had collected to help the project.
Statistics, and then solutions. El Diario de Otún (Pereira) created an innovative programme with a techinical school, El Instituto Téchnico Superior Pereira, for using the newspaper to teach statistics. After the students make logical inferences by charting data from the paper, such as crime statistics or growth sectors in the economy, they must note opportunities and solutions based on these figures.
Reluctant to eager newspaper readers. El Universal (Cartagena) worked with the Manzanillo del Mar school, where most parents worked in fishing. The programme began in 2006 with 15 minutes silent reading. "Students went from resisting having to do that to asking for the paper every day and complaining that we didn't give them enough time," explained educator Mirta Isabel Chico Acevedo. The programme now also includes analyzing news and problems, plus rewriting news and explaining it orally, plus a newsprint fashion show.
From rumors to the news. La Patria (Manizales) began working with it's regions poor children to help them know more about reality in the face of rumors and created an office for children to use the paper. A blog www.comunicaocionyperiodismochapata.blogspot.com, offers space for students to publicize their own efforts.
A group journalism effort for science. University students worked together created an in-depth story about an endangered plant in a project organized by El Colombiano.