Language Arts 1-5 Maintain The Brain



The following activities are from Newspapers Maintain the Brain: A Teacher’s Guide for Using the Newspaper to Enhance Basic Skills. The guide was produced by the Newspaper Association of America.  Each activity is labeled to indicate approximate grade level. E = elementary, M = middle grades and S = secondary. You will probably find it easy to adapt the lessons to the ability level of your students. 

The activities will help students improve their skills in reading and writing. These skills are among the ones they will practice: how to find the main idea, how to increase vocabulary, how to compare readings, how to form sentences, how to ask a good question and how to write a great summary. They will employ many critical thinking skills as they are required to interact with the authentic material found in the newspaper.

ACTIVITY 1 – SPORTSMANSHIP (M)                                                                      

Skill: Student forms his/her own ideas about what has happened in a text and uses specific information from the text to support these ideas. The Institute for International Sports encourages all athletes to be good sports and to play fairly. Have students make a list of the characteristics that a good sport should have. They can use today’s newspaper to find an example of an athlete demonstrating good sportsmanship and explain why they think so.
What athletes are not good sports? Why do they think so?

ACTIVITY 2 – FACT OR OPINION (M)                                                                    

Skill: Student determines fact from opinion. What is the difference between a fact and an opinion? Read an editorial from today’s newspaper aloud to your class or allow students to read independently. On the printed copy, have them circle the words or phrases that are facts with a colored marker and underline those that are opinions with a different color marker. Talk about which words show facts and which show opinions. Did they find more facts or opinions?

ACTIVITY 3 – PREDICT THE FUTURE (M)                                                             

Skill: Student uses background knowledge to make complex predictions from a reading selection. What do your students think about people who say they can tell fortunes?  Do they think anyone can predict the future? Have them read their horoscopes for today. What does it say about the kind of day they’re going to have? Have them copy the prediction and write a paragraph telling whether or not they believe it and why. Then they can write their own prediction for today. Tomorrow, they can write another paragraph describing the kind of day they actually had. Which prediction was closer to reality?

ACTIVITY 4 – SPORTS GLOSSARY (E)                                                                       

Skill: Student uses a variety of strategies to analyze words. Have students select an article from the Sports section. As they skim the story, they can make a list of vocabulary words that are used in the sport. Then they should write a definition for each word and draw a picture to illustrate what the word means. They can add any other words they can think of that also have to do with the sport, but that do not appear in the article. Now they have a sports glossary!

ACTIVITY 5 – TAKING NOTES (M)(S)                                                                        

Skill: Student uses strategies to clarify meaning such as note taking, summarizing and outlining and can write a grade-level appropriate report. Explain to students that a good way of taking notes is to make an outline of what they are reading by writing down the main points and a few important details. Have them read a news story in today’s newspaper that they think has an interesting topic. They can skim through the article again to find the main idea in each paragraph. On a piece of paper, have them number the ideas. The main idea for the first paragraph would be Number 1, the main idea for the second paragraph, Number 2, etc. They will need to leave space between ideas. Then they can look for the supporting facts in each paragraph and write them below each paragraph’s main idea and label them a, b, c, etc.