MOSES LAKE — Knolls Vista fourth-grade teacher Bill Bertram uses the Columbia Basin Herald to show his students how a newspaper is organized and to sharpen their reading skills.
The Herald is vital to his efforts because some students don’t have access to newsprint.
“Aside from Time for Kids or Scholastic News, the real daily newspaper that we see in our community is shown with Newspapers In Education,” he explained.
Bertram and his teaching partner Kelsie Fowkes receive a classroom set weekly of the Herald.
“Most weeks we have a quiz that will allow kids to practice recognizing how a newspaper is organized, the informational text involved. At the end of the year our hope is they can use those same resources the following year and years to come with other periodicals that they see,” Bertram said.
Papers are sent home to students on the rare occasion they don’t have a quiz. The class also discusses the articles and learns more about their community.
“Right now we’re battling iPads, we’re battling computers, computer games and tablets and so on,” Bertram said. “The actual physical part of reading is becoming more of a chore. So if we can hook them with current events in the community they live, then that’s what we’re looking for.”
He’s seen improvements in student test scores. It’s hard to isolate it to any one part of their reading curriculum, he said.
“But those kids who practice reading at home test higher,” Bertram commented. “For some of them this is the only exposure they get to an actual newspaper. The informational piece they provide for their reading content definitely adds to their palette of skills. It certainly is a positive and certainly doesn’t detract when you get the kids to read anything.”
According to Edward F. Deroche’s book titled “The Newspaper: A Reference Book for Teachers and Librarians, students who use newspapers in the classroom tend to score higher on standardized achievement tests, especially in reading, math and social studies, than those who don’t use them.
Bertram has given Herald quizzes to students for the past eight years and he plans to do so this year. The quizzes will be placed on Google forms for the 2018-19 school year, giving students broader access to the information from their Chromebooks.
Some students show great improvement on their quiz scores.
“Toward the end of the year, some of the kids get so good at the quizzes, we ask them to write questions,” Bertram said.