Newsroom 101 is based on “instructional quizzes” that use the quiz format to teach. Students see a question followed by two or more choices. They receive immediate feedback on the answer they chose. 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 a form of interactive 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 and 80 percent on review quizzes.
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 "regular" 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.
Teachers consistently report that students' grammar and AP style improve as they work through Newsroom 101.
Newsroom101 provides a wealth of material from which you can select the most important items for your students to complete. There are 275 quizzes, each with 10 or so questions, for a total of more than 2,800 questions. The quizzes are divided into the following sections:
- Quiz 1, a short introduction to how Newsroom 101 works. Assign this first.
- AP Style, starting with a quick overview and downloadable reference sheet
- 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 a posttest
Interspersed among these sections are concise, helpful introductions on the following topics -- to prepare students for the instructional quizzes on each topic:
- Parts of Speech
- Phrases and Clauses
- Sentence Problems
- Lay and Lie
- The Passive Voice
- Pronouns and Case
- Pronoun Agreement
- Who and Whom
- Essential and Nonessential
- Reflexive and Intensive Pronouns
- Pronouns - Other Problem Areas
- Linking Verbs and Predicate Adjectives
- Introduction to Commas
- Commas between Elements in a Series
- Commas after Introductory Clauses and Phrases
- Commas Before Conjunctions
- Commas Between Equal Adjectives
- Commas with Quotes
- Abusing Commas
- Commas in Other Situations
- Commas with Essential-Nonessential Elements
- Possessives and Apostrophes
Pronouns and Commas receive special weight. These topics have multiple units of easy practice, followed by more difficult quizzes, because pronouns and commas require an understanding of most other aspects of grammar.
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.
- a single exercise and each student’s score.
- a summary of a student’s activities on the site.
- A listing of who is logged in at the moment and what they are working on. And more.
If you had a use for it, you could drill down into the data to uncover exactly which answer each student gave for each question.
But it is Newsroom 101′s simplicity and ease of use that appeal to most teachers. Once students get the rhythm of Newsroom 101, they find that it is organized in a consistent and reliable manner. Students quickly learn how Newsroom 101 works, where things are located, and how to get their work done.
How Much Grammar?
Our purpose is not to produce grammarians but to help students write better. We show students correct usage and make it memorable. Newsroom 101 introduces just enough of the basic terminology of grammar to enable students to continue learning from there.
In teaching “who” and “whom,” for example, instead of emphasizing the nominative and accusative case, we teach a method of understanding how “whom” functions like “him” and “who” functions like “he” in comparable sentences.
Some commercial exercises use complicated sentences that contain multiple errors. The examples in Newsroom 101 focus clearly on the one issue students are being asked to learn.
We developed many of the exercises in Newsroom 101 during 30 years of teaching and in light of studies of 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.
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 a subscription to the AP stylebook's online site, www.apstylebook.com, the most helpful way to keep up with journalistic style.
Such detailed learning almost always comes slowly through repetition. Students are unlikely to remember everything covered by Newsroom 101. Nonetheless, the exercises are valuable as priming. The next time students encounter the same issue, they will be in a better position to learn and remember it.
Newsroom 101 is not affiliated with the Associated Press, and the Associated Press is not in any way responsible for Newsroom 101. Users of Newsroom 101 are urged to purchase the Associated Press Stylebook and other services provided by the Associated Press.