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A look at how some teachers are using Channel One and Newsroom suggests ways schools can make the most of television in the classroom.
Whittle Communications' Channel One and Cable News Network's Newsroom are two popular media that facilitate the study of current events in American classrooms. We have used them in our own classrooms since 1990. What are the implications for curriculum? In our discussions with public school teachers in Atlanta, Georgia, and Austin, Texas, who use one or the other of these programs, we identified three issues.
Inconsistencies in Usage
Each teacher with whom we talked had a different way of using the newscasts, and some teachers did not see them as part of the curriculum at all. Nevertheless, most of the teachers' concerns involved the usefulness of accompanying materials and the relevance of the content to their courses.
Some teachers were aware of a monthly classroom guide for Channel One, but others were not. Teachers who had seen the guide described it as a useful reference of what would be on that month, but the guide did not meet their definition of curriculum materials.
By contrast, Newsroom provides daily lesson plans with objectives, discussion questions, activities, blackline masters, cross-references to standard subject headings, and correlations with a particular set of textbooks. Atlanta teachers who use Newsroom think the guides are comprehensive and well written. Nevertheless, many added that they often do not use them because it is difficult to devote an entire lesson to the 15-minute newscast.
Linking Program with Classroom
To what extent do teachers connect concepts in the newscasts with the content of their classes?
A geography teacher who works primarily with high-achieving students in an Austin, Texas, magnet high school often finds ways to use Channel One in her class. She likes the maps and "visually interesting graphics" and also the periodic special features on, for example, Somalia or the electoral college. When "something special" is coming up, she informs her students. She frequently refers to previous segments in class …