Use News for You as the basis for a national and international scavenger hunt in the classroom. Give students copies of two maps: one of the world and one of the United States. Divide students into pairs or small groups. Ask them to skim the newspaper for national and international place names. When they find a country, state, or city name in an article, ask them to find and color its location on the relevant map. Then ask each student to write a sentence or two explaining why each place is mentioned in News for You. Have the students attach their summaries to their maps.
This work can lead to discussion. Which country seems to be the setting for the most interesting or meaningful news? What does anyone in the class know about this country or state, in addition to the information shared in the newspaper?
First, have students choose an article to work on. After they have read it carefully, ask each to review the five W's for it--who, what, when, where, and why--and write a summary. Then ask students to write a critique of the article or an editorial about it. This will require applying the information in a subjective way.
If the students get really interested in the topic, form small discussion groups or teams. Formulate a question or issue for the students to discuss, and then ask them to do some research to find facts to back up their opinions. A class discussion or debate based on such research should be rich. And students can feel knowledgeable about a current issue while developing their research and writing skills.
In this exercise, students are assigned roles as evening news program TV announcers. Have students choose any two articles from the current issue of News for You. After reading the articles, they must summarize the most important information in three or four clear sentences. Have each student sit at a table facing the class and role-play a TV announcer delivering the "Evening News for You."
At first, students may be hesitant to be put in the spotlight. But after the second or third time, they often get caught up in the performance and become more creative.
Here are some phrases that can help them begin their newscasts:
This activity is good for ABE and GED students. It is especially useful as an activity to precede formal essay instruction.
Ask each student to choose an article from News for You to read carefully. Then ask students to write short two- or three-sentence summaries of their articles. Finally, ask them to write their reactions to the articles. These reactions should reflect the student's feelings and should be supported with details and/or examples.
Ask students to read a front-page story from News for You (those are the top two stories on News for You Online). Don't read the story yourself--it is important that you not know the details. Tell the students that you haven't read it, and that their task is to tell you the most important facts and details in the story.
After they read, you can debrief orally or in writing. You could list the points students tell you on the board and then discuss whether they agree on main points, or you could ask students to write the main points and exchange them with a partner to see whether they agree about which points are most important.
Have each student choose a key word or name from an article and construct an acrostic using words or short phrases related to the chosen word. Here's an example using Capaci, the last name of a Powerball lottery winner:
Acquired $195 million
A retired electrician
Celebrated with friends
In an Illinois tavern
This is a good summarizing activity that involves higher-level thinking skills. It is appropriate for basic literacy, ESL, or GED students.
Put students into groups of three or four. Have them read an article together. Then have students retell the story in their own words, with each student responsible for making at least one comment.
Cut an article from News for You in half, then make enough copies of each piece so every learner will have one half. Separate the class into two groups, and give each group a different half of the story. Ask each group to read their portion of the article and write down details that are missing.
Put the learners into small groups with others who have the same half. Ask them to talk about the article, to try to fill in any missing information, and to compile a list of questions they want answered about the article.
Pair up students who have different halves of the article. Have them talk about the article so they discover the whole story, but without looking back at their original half of the article.
Finally, have the learners go back to their original groups. Have the groups write a summary of the entire article without looking back at it.
Ask students to read one of the articles in News for You. Then ask each student to write a summary. The twist is that the summary must be exactly 15 words long. This gives students practice finding the essential message of a story and expressing that message succinctly. If you wish, you could ask students to pair up and proofread each others' summaries. Then authors can refine and polish their work so that each summary has exactly the right number of words and captures the essence of the story.