The New York Times in the community college composition classroom

We are teachers of composition, and we believe that the teaching of composition, while ensuring that students become good writers, should also encourage them to develop an awareness of our world and learn college skills that will benefit them for the rest of their educational careers.  With this purpose we integrated the The New York Times into our classroom and discovered it to be a huge success.  In this site we have included some assignments and activities which have proven especially successful in our classes, in hopes that other instructors may benefit from our work.

Please feel free to contact us with questions, concerns, or additions!

Meena Nayak:
Bridget Robin Pool:

The site is designed for instructors of composition.  Each of the main tabs leads to a set of assignments, and within each assignment is contained a step by step process of how to teach the assignment using The New York Times as a primary text.  To further aid the composition instructor, we have included assignment objectives, advice for the instructor on how to manage the assignment, activities involved to bring the assignment to fruition, and downloadable handouts to give to students. Each of these assignments can be used as stand-alone modules, or the whole site can be used as a teacher's manual.  In addition, the structure and processes of many of the assignments can be used as models to design other assignments of the instructor's choice.
Why use The New York Times in the Composition Classroom
The newspaper is packed with a variety of fascinating articles every single day. Sports! Fashion! Music! Culture! Politics! Language! Games! Movies! Business!  This variety does not only make for eclectic reading but also provides topics to meet everyone's interest. Sometimes the instructor has to assign reading material, but teaching with the newspaper also offers the instructor an opportunity to let students pursue their own interests and explore new subjects.

The truth is, many students don't read. They also have little experience with selecting reading material that interests them. Admittedly, the newspaper is initally intimidating for the students, but once they select something for themselves to read, they are quickly able to adapt to reading the news.  Next, they are eager to learn more about the 'story' and begin to follow it everyday.  Lo and behold! We have students who are suddenly not only reading, but also anticipating what is going to happen next and forming opinions about what is happening.
This sort of critical thinking in which the students are invested informs--even inspires--good writing.  Students quickly learn to distinguish between journalistic writing and thesis-based composition.  In fact, The New York Times, itself, includes this variety of genres.  For example, the Opinion Editorials and Letters to the Editor are examples of thesis-based writing that the students can emulate.  In addition, the online version of the paper offers tools that can assist students, such as a word search and a grammar and style editor.
The New York Times provides relevant, current, high quality reading material and serves as a credible research source; thus it is a perfect "textbook."  In addition, reading The New York Times offers students an opportunity to become engaged, global citizens who understand and thinks critically about the world.

When I got started in this class, I was apprehensive, because, firstly, I did not like the newspaper so The New York Times was not a welcome text, and secondly, I did not know how to write compositions, so it was all a little confusing.  As I got to understand it more I realized I was actually learning a whole new way of reading and writing.  I was actually thinking outside the box!Student comment, Fall 2010.

 We hope that you will find the materials in this site helpful!