Class uses newspaper in life lessons

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LaRue County Schools used Herald News in classroom

By Linda Ireland

Each week, The LaRue County Herald News supplies 903 newspapers to teachers who request them for use in their classroom.

Community partners pay for half the cost of a regular subscription to each class, while the Herald News covers the rest.

Teachers use the newspaper for practical lessons in economics, math, spelling, history and geography. It’s called the most up-to-date textbook available.

Jackie Harley, a fifth grade teacher at Abraham Lincoln Elementary School, is a staunch believer in the program. Her classes read the chapter stories usually published in the newspaper each fall and incorporate them into their regular studies.

Last fall, the “Heads and Tails” series starring “Kentucky wiener dogs” Woody and Chloe provided lessons in history and savings. The stories, penned by Kentucky author Leigh Anne Florence, centered on a 1909 penny (the first to have an image of Abraham Lincoln) that transported the pups back in history. They learned many lessons along the way.

One of the stories discussed Lincoln’s work ethic and thrift. After reading it, the class, which is rewarded through “behavior bucks” implemented the practice of saving 10 percent of their rewards for charity and 10 percent for savings.

The students earn bucks for good behavior " up to $125 per week. They keep track of their earnings and deductions in check books donated by local banks. Dollars are deducted for missed homework, chewing gum or inappropriate behavior. The most costly infraction is talking or moving during morning announcements. That costs students $100.

The class decided on the high fine because the morning announcements “contain valuable information they may need to hear,” said Harley.

The result is a practical lesson in mathematics, cause-and-effect and good manners.

Ashley Hornback has saved $849 that she can spend on 100-calorie snacks, bracelets, pencils, calendars or oddities like ink pens shaped like human brains at “Harley’s General Store.” She can also save her bucks for an end-of-year auction. Her classmate Michael Hill “doesn’t shop.” He is saving all his earnings for the auction. So far, he has $938.

Literary/math teaching assistant Kristy Stillwell said general store favorites are mint and chocolate candy canes and Capri Sun packets.

“They look forward to Fridays,” Stillwell said. “They know they’re going to get to shop.”

“They keep their checkbooks really well,” Stillwell added. “It’s a life lesson.”

Harley said her class plans evolve throughout the year and she welcomes suggestions from her students. For instance, the class will soon be studying percentages in math. Student Austin Sayles suggested they reduce items in the general store by percentages for a clearance sale.

“That’s some great brainstorming,” Harley said.

For more information on The LaRue County Herald News’ Newspaper  in Education program, contact Ramona Coffey at 358-3118.