Computer Skills Curriculum
Database Lesson Plan

Title: How New is the News?

Other Curriculum Objectives that can be addressed by this lesson plan
English Language Arts 2.1, 2.2, 4.1; Social Studies: Skill Goal I, Skill Goal II; Computer Skills: (Gr. 5) 2.4; Information Skills 1.3, 1.4, 1.5, 2.1, 2.2

Grade: 5
Competency 1.2: Identify computers as tools for accessing current information.

Measure 1.2.1: Describe the advantages of obtaining news by telecomputing from a computer accessible news service vs. from a daily newspaper.

Materials Needed: Pre-activity: typical class objects. Activity: Several complete editions of a local newspaper, phone call or letters to the newspaper office, information and videotapes on computer accessing news sources, paper for posting findings.

Time: One class session.

Terms: Database, Computer Accessible News Sources




With the Students

  • 1. Discuss the concept of a database as a collection of items and review examples. (Examples: the class is a collection of students, the classroom is a collection of desks and chairs, the class file cabinet or bookcase is a collection of papers or books, the teacherís gradebook is a collection of student names and grades. Items such as a dictionary, encyclopedia, newspaper, and card catalog can be both print and computer databases.)
  • 2. Initiate a discussion of how current are computer databases. Direct the discussion to the advantages of a computer database of current information.


  • 1. Divide the class into two groups and each group into 3 subgroups of "front page news," "weather," and "sports."
  • 2. Provide each large group with a complete newspaper (need not be the same day) and ask each subgroup to remove their assigned section for use in the activity.
  • 3. Ask each group to study their section and discuss how current the news is in comparison to the date of the newspaper: day before, midnight of the day before, same day as date, days before, etc.
  • 4. Have one member of each subgroup join an investigative team to place a call to the local newspaper office to determine if they produce early and late issues of the paper and the distribution destinations for those issues. Have the team report to their subgroup for a total subgroup discussion on how that information affects how current is the news. (If no local paper exists, have students write letters to the newspaper office of the most widely distributed area paper.)
  • 5. Discuss computer accessible news sources such as X-Press X-Change and computer on-line newspapers from services such as Dow Jones News Retrieval and CompuServe.
  • 6. Show the students a videotape or an actual example of a computer accessible news service. (See below for sources of information.)
  • 7. Have each subgroup identify the advantages of computer accessible news services versus the daily printed newspaper and list these advantages on the board or on sheets of paper to post on the walls or bulletin board.

(Optional: Have a representative of the local newspaper talk to the class about how current the news is on the front page, weather section, and sports section and if the newspaper uses computer accessible sources to obtain the most current news.)


Have each student design an ad for a computer accessible news service which claims a specific advantage of the computer format over the print newspaper. Have the students identify standards for evaluating the ads, group the ads by like "claims" and critique the ads for correct information and audience appeal.

Computer Accessible News Sources

X-Press X-Change: 1-800-772-6397

Dow Jones News Retrieval: 1-800-522-3567 for Membership and Information Services; 609-452-1511 for Information and Customer Service.

CompuServe: 614-457-8600