How I Use Old Newspapers in the Classroom

Hey friend! Welcome back to another post! Today, I am going to talk about how I use old newspapers in my classroom lectures. But first, let’s take a step back and talk about why I do this!

Right after I finished my master’s program I began my Active Historian blog and instagram. I had an awesome opportunity to work with the Remedial Herstory Project for a few months and was doing some research for them and stumbled across a JSTOR article that talked about how a teacher utilized newspapers in the classroom. So, I took the idea from the article and modified it to fit my own classroom needs. I will put the article name and title below! You should be able to make a free account on JSTOR to read the article ๐Ÿ™‚

Erica A. Morin. โ€œExtra! Extra! Read All About It!: Structuring the U.S. History Survey Around the Motif of the Newspaper.โ€ The History Teacher 46, no. 2 (2013): 283โ€“92.

Daily Newspaper Readings

Alright, let’s talk about how I implement newspapers in my daily lessons and for a special projects. I think one important thing as educators is relating to the students in terms they understand and one thing students understand today is social media. Newspapers were considered to be the social media of the day!

Newspapers were the social media of the day!

I asked my students on the first day how many of them use social media of any kind and they all raised their hands. I had their attention and they were interested in hearing more. I explained to them how newspapers were essentially the social media of the day. That’s how people spread news quickly – kind of like a tweet on twitter or a viral tik-tok video!

At the beginning of every class, I put a slide on the screen that has actual headlines clipped from real newspapers about events I plan to discuss in class that day. I ask my students to read the headlines out loud – we don’t continue until all the headlines have been read aloud. Having my students read the headlines aloud gives them a chance to participate in the class.

Then, I ask the students what they think we’ll be talking about that day. Somedays they answer with the events that were read aloud and other days they put together the big picture and are able to connect all of the concepts to a movement or larger ideology.

Below is an example of one of the newspaper slides that I begin class with every day.

This is an example of one of the slides I use in my US History class.
*I don’t own the copyright to any of the newspaper articles and clipped them from a database.

I asked my students whether they like this activity or not and most students have responded positively. They like that they can come into class and read the headlines to themselves before class even begins. One student said they liked this because they knew what class would be about that day and it wasn’t necessarily a surprise.

Newspaper Project

My students liked the newspaper headlines at the beginning of class so I wanted another way to introduce more primary source materials into my lecture. For one class, I decided to have my students use the free newspaper database – Chronicling America – to look at old newspapers.

I divided the class into four groups. I gave each group a topic to research and had them prepare a “5 o’clock new broadcast” about the topic using actual headlines from the period. I had the students look up topics like the Vietnam War and the Red Scare. The topics need to be broad to give the students room to talk about topics which interest them. I did this activity at the end of class after lecturing so the students also used information from the lecture in their presentations.

Each group designed their own “news anchor” who read the group’s “news story” to the entire class. It was a fun way for students to engage with primary sources, work together, and grapple with the topics we discussed that week. Most students seemed to like the activity!

Concluding Thoughts

Hey friend, I hope this article gives you some inspiration to try using old newspapers in your classroom! If you use newspapers in another way in your classroom – let me know! I am always looking to try new activities! Also, if you give the newspaper slide a try drop me a message too – I’d love to hear about it! You can also tag me on Instagram (@the_active_historian) or on Twitter (@ActiveHistorian).

I’ll talk to ya soon! ๐Ÿ™‚

One thought on “How I Use Old Newspapers in the Classroom

  1. That is actually rather clever.

    I have newspapers of significant events going back to the mid 70’s and some old Women’s Weekly’s of my mums going back to the 1950’s and my teenage son flicks through them from time to time and is amazed at how life and the cost of things were back then.


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