Education's "Common Core" Standards (and especially its upcoming tests) are a hot topic of family and online discussions this time of year.  Parents and students may become frustrated. Some educators see it as a bane, others a blessing.  Without debating the pros and cons, how about looking at ways the Common Core can be used to get the current school-age generation looking at and using newspapers? 

The Newspapers in Education program has long acknowledged the worth of using newspaper material as a learning resource.  Their website provides a balance between online news and the printed word, offering ideas to publishers, educators, and parents.


The Washington, Missouri school district has provided a PDF that specifically addresses using newspapers to teach the Common Core:   Their introduction states:


"Newspapers are a timely, relevant and affordable source of nonfiction text that allows teachers to meet their classroom goals and students to master the skills."        


Teachers and Administrators in one NewYork district were trying to find a way to enhance the literacy skills of their scientifically minded STEM students.


While our students are gifted in the sciences, they struggle, like many high school students, with analytical reading skills and writing. With the Common Core's emphasis on argumentative writing and reading informational text, we felt the urge to restructure our classroom to better meet these standards and the needs of our students.


We decided to bring newspapers into our daily classroom routine and focus our instruction around their content since they provide a flood of informational text every single day.


A group of educators in Illinois put together ideas for teaching common core literacy standards for their elementary aged students.  One of the examples that uses newspapers:


Headline News. After exposure to the organization of newspaper articles, provide several sentences relating to a story read in class. Help students choose the sentence/headline phrase that represents the headline for the article (the central idea/lesson) and use the remaining sentences to tell the story beneath the headline. After sentences are in order, color or decorate the headline, so it is different from the rest of the "article" and is similar to a newspaper.


There are many other resources online with engaging ideas for incorporating newspapers into literacy standards.  An idea from the Reading Rockets page:


Sports Glossary

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! 


An internet search combining "Common Core" and "Newspapers" provides a wealth of additional ideas.



The scoring (it's no longer called "grading") of standardized test questions is now determined through the use of a "rubric" specific to each item.


In education, a rubric is broadly defined as a document that articulates the expectations for an assignment by listing what will and won't count in the answer, and describing levels of quality from excellent to poor.


Other meanings of the word "rubric" can be found here.



Links to past newsletters, grouped by date and theme, are now available on our website and in our user group.  

APRIL  2015
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A current customer revealed that one of his biggest revenue sources this year has been printing workbooks used for Common Core learning. 



The Education World website has newspaper based activities for both literacy and math.   A small sampling:


Find what fraction of the newspaper is composed of classified ads


Figure out the cost of running a 30-word ad for one week


Estimate the total number of classified ads (based on ads per column and columns per page)




We want to thank those of you who have taken the time to download parts manuals from the user group.


Last week we uploaded a more comprehensive, clarified version of the Quad-Stack Single Oscillator parts manual, after a customer brought a discrepancy to our attention. You can down load the latest version by using the link above and logging in. 


Keep in mind, we are always here to help.  We're just a phone call away.

Contact Us:


Technical Help: Rick Guinn
Parts:  Brian Hilsendager
General Questions or help with the Users Group: Gail Sampson
Office:  253-620-4747

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You can also order parts through our website: