When Dustin Seely sat down at his desk in Brooke Tucker's fourth-grade class Wednesday morning he was excited to discover that his teacher had traded textbooks for the Deseret News.
Dustin, like thousands of Utah school children, participated in the Deseret News "No Books Day" to learn about everything from bugs to editorials in a living textbook - the daily newspaper."I think using the paper is very interesting," said Dustin. "I want to know about things that are happening. As I get older I want to know about what is happening in the future."
At Dustin's school, Washington Elementary, 340 W. 65O South, every student participated in the program. In his classroom, Dustin and his fellow students went on a timed scavenger hunt through the newspaper. Students were asked to find out how to place an advertisement, locate letters to the editor and find information about the weather.
"The scavenger hunt helps students find different pages by using an index," said Tucker as she pointed to the front page index to the paper.
She said she used the Deseret News program as part of a month-long project to learn about newspapers. It will culminate when the class produces its own newspaper filled with articles about Utah history.
During social studies classes, students were asked to locate facts about current events in the state. During math, the students were given an imaginary amount of money and ask to spend it on items in the classified advertisements.
"We are also going to read the editorial page and talk about fact and opinion," Tucker said Wednesday morning. "It is important for them to begin to understand the difference between facts and opinions, especially as they watch television, particularly commercials."
In writing exercises, Tucker said the newspaper is a model of how to write concise topic sentences. She said she uses newspaper writing style to show her class how to compose a topic sentence at the beginning of stories and at the beginning of each paragraph.
Down the hall in Barbara Simpson's second-grade class, 23 students were looking for names of cities, countries and continents. Simpson said she is using the newspaper in the students' geography studies.
Troy Haskett, sitting on the floor with the newspaper lying around him, had circled "Iranian" and "Moscow" in a headline, "Vienna" in a dateline and "Arizona" in an article.
Across the room, Celeste Burningham had circled "Salt Lake International Airport" because of the airplanes that land there.
"My dad has been going on a lot of them," Celeste said.
Simpson said the newspaper program helps children realize that reading takes place outside of the classroom.
"When they see their parent's reading a newspaper a light goes on. Reading now has application to their lives," she said.
Twenty-nine school districts, about 312 schools and 1,413 teachers participated in the program. This is the eighth year the Deseret News has sponsored "No Books Day." The effort is part of a national Newspaper in Education Week coordinated by the International Reading Association and the American Newspaper Publishers Association.