OK, class, get out your newspapers and turn to Page B3.

Such requests were made in classrooms all over Utah yesterday as schools participated in the Deseret Morning News No Books Day.

Wendi Stringfellow's class at Meadowbrook Elementary momentarily resembled a morning coffee shop with around 25 heads hidden behind the folds of the latest current events.

As part of Newspapers in Education Week, the Deseret Morning News sent more than 75,000 newspapers to schools participating in the 23rd annual No Books Day. In 72 of those schools, every classroom participated.

Teachers ditched the textbooks Tuesday and taught using only the newspaper from bell to bell.

Stringfellow dove in slowly, walking her students through the different parts of the newspaper — starting with the educational section included specially for No Books Day, "Utah Jazz: On the Go; In the Know."

She said with the help of the Newspapers in Education Web site she came up with activities tying in closely with the core curriculum.

With a $2,000 mock budget, Stringfellow's students had to peruse the classified ads to find items on a shopping list she had given them — a car, a dog, appliances, etc. They had to budget, research and use different kinds of math.

Using the world news stories about the conflicts in Haiti she gave a short geography lesson on where the country is located and who lives there. And for a dose of science the class looked for what science programs were working on at the universities and read about Mars goings-on.

Stringfellow said it is important that the students learn to realize that newspapers are an important source of knowledge, giving students the perspective that everything they are learning right now is going to tie into their adult life.

"They live in a TV society, and they think everything on the TV is true," said Stringfellow. "We point out that the things in here have to be fact but also show them where there are opinions."

Merikay Haskins, a fourth-grade teacher at Meadowbrook, went a step further and also used the paper as part of a language arts lesson. Students raced to find their spelling words in the newspaper and then looked closely at the stories — pulling out the main ideas and stated facts.

"It's a great opportunity for the students to learn that they can get information from the newspaper and that the newspaper isn't just for adults," said principal Sharla Fillmore. "It's a tremendous resource that is affordable . . . and a valuable learning tool."

To help teachers teach from the newspaper all day, NIE created a teacher's guide posted on the NIE Web site. They also sent Jazz posters and Jazz player cards as part of the special section to the students.


E-mail: terickson@desnews.com