Welcome to Newsroom 101!
Many college professors find there is not enough time to teach students the grammar, usage, spelling and style they need in order to succeed in college and in the workplace.
Newsroom 101 was created to help fill that need.
Like a Workbook or Lab
Newsroom 101 functions like a workbook or lab that teachers require as part of a course. Students complete the self-grading exercises on a schedule set by the teacher. Professors have combined Newsroom 101 with their courses in a variety of ways, and we provide specific suggestions on how you can use Newsroom 101 in your course.
Newsroom 101 is based on “instructional quizzes ” that use the quiz format to teach. Students receive immediate feedback, and, except when the issue is obvious, they receive an explanation of the answer.
Instructional quizzes are a form of interactive reading. Rather than reading a chapter on nouns, for example, and then taking a quiz, students encounter each relevant aspect of nouns in the form of a question, their response and an explanation in the feedback. The question, a student’s answer and the feedback introduce an interactive element and engage students in active learning.
If all students learned well from reading, remembered what they read and applied what they learned in class, interactive exercises might not be necessary. But this kind of instruction speaks to today’s students, who are accustomed to interactive media.
Because the purpose of these quizzes is not to grade students but to teach them, students can repeat a quiz as many times as they like. Only the highest score is recorded.
The quizzes have an unusual requirement that was designed to help students learn: Students must earn 90 percent on each regular quiz.
Having to earn 80 or 90 percent helps students focus. If they don’t focus and remember what they just learned, they must keep repeating the quiz. Having to click the correct answer ensures that students see what the correct answer is. And they usually receive immediate feedback explaining it.
After students have completed several sets of quizzes, they receive a review quiz consisting of a random selection of the material they just practiced. These periodic reviews are intended to help students remember what they learn, and students must earn 80 percent on them before they can receive a grade on them.
Newsroom101 contains 246 graded quizzes (each with 10 or more questions), divided into the following sections:
- AP Style, starting with a quick overview and downloadable reference
- Grammar, starting with a quick overview of grammar demons and culminating in an extensive section on pronouns
- Punctuation, with an extensive section on commas
- Word Usage
- Dow Jones Editing Tests since 1998
- A pretest and posttest
It all begins with Quiz 1, which tells students how to use Newsroom 101.
Gradebook and Reports
As the teacher, you will have a complete gradebook showing student performance on each quiz. You can easily download the gradebook into a spreadsheet for further analysis or archiving.
You can obtain other reports as well. You can display the complete grades of each individual in a convenient format. You can display a single exercise and quickly view each student’s score. You can view a summary of a student’s activities on the site. And more. If you had a use for it, you could drill down into the data to uncover exactly what answer each student gave for each question.
But it is Newsroom 101′s simplicity and ease of use that appeal to most teachers. A column has been added to the gradebook that simply counts the number of quizzes each student has completed at 80 percent or higher. This running count provides you with a quick view of how well each student is keeping up with the number of assigned activities. And it provides an simple basis for assigning a grade for Newsroom 101 in a course where you have other activities and grades. Some professors require students to complete 200 quizzes to earn full credit on the Newsroom 101 portion of the course grade.
Please see the “Professors” section on the menu bar to learn how you can use Newsroom 101 with your course and how to request a section of Newsroom 101 for your students to use.
In the Cloud
Newsroom 101 is delivered to your students using the Moodle content management system, from our servers. It is entirely in the cloud. All you and your students need is a computer with an internet connection and a browser. The exercises on Newsroom 101 work on most tablets and smartphones. Small-screen devices may have to use some horizontal scrolling.
How Much Grammar?
Newsroom 101 uses a functional approach to grammar. Our purpose is not to produce grammarians, but to help people write better. We try to show students correct usage and make it memorable. And we teach a problem-solving approach to grammar based on reasoning from the known to the new.
In teaching “who” and “whom,” for example, instead of teaching only about nominative and accusative case, we teach a method of understanding how “whom” functions like “him” and “who” functions like “he” in comparable sentences. And we candidly refer to this as “the who/whom trick.” Our aim is to produce better writers and editors.
We developed many of the examples in Newsroom 101 during 30 years of teaching editing and in light of a several studies showing the most common grammatical errors committed by college students. Most of the examples come from student work or from published articles — real mistakes, edited to focus clearly on the issue.
Newsroom 101 introduces just enough of the basic terminology of grammar to enable students to continue learning from there.
How Much AP Style?
Newsroom 101 provides a thorough introduction to the basics of Associated Press style, the standard for journalism and related fields. But it does not try to teach all of AP style. For that, students will need a copy of the stylebook and a lot of practice using it. AP style changes as the world changes, so it is important for students to learn how to use the stylebook and commit themselves to staying current. Newsroom 101 gets them started on this lifelong learning project. Many journalists find the online site, apstylebook.com, the most helpful way to keep up with journalistic style.