Educators play a crucial role in equipping students with the skills necessary to distinguish between fact and fiction, research or evidence-based statements, and exaggeration from reputable journalism. By observing and discussing current events, teachers help promote civic engagement and critical thinking, develop media literacy, connect learning to the real world, and encourage empathy and perspective-taking.
When students become informed and engaged citizens and understand their role in shaping the world, they gain a better understanding of the experiences and perspectives of others, which promotes empathy, understanding, and respect. By incorporating current events into the curriculum, students see the relevance and practical application of what they're learning, making education more meaningful and impactful.
The news offers an ideal opportunity for cooperative-group instruction, classroom discussions, purposeful follow-up writing, and much more. Not sure how to start? Here are simple ways to start conversations that can lead to more in-depth lessons and projects:
- Listen for Details
While listening to a podcast, have students listen for details, then have them Pair-Share and discuss why those details stood out. To close, agree on key details that convey the event. The Ten News, KidNuz, and At Your Level are great resources for podcasts geared towards young people. This can also lead to your students developing their own podcasts.
- Identify the 5 Ws
While listening, watching, or reading an online news report (such as those found on National Geographic Kids, Newsela, Google, and CNN 10), encourage students to pay attention to the who, what, when, where, and why of the report. Afterwards, they can Think-Pair-Share with the goal of identifying why these are key attributes of a news story. If there's an interactive display in class, students can mark important parts of the article or video either directly or through a screen-sharing app on their device.
- Headline Matching
Using an activity-building app or platform, like MimioConnect, create a matching activity wherein students match a headline with a summary of the news story. Variations can include matching a headline and quote, a quote and summary, and a summary and data or pictures from the scene. If built-in MimioConnect, the activity can be assigned as a review, scaffold, or as a flipped learning activity.
- Artful Expression
Art teachers can assign a project where students explore current events on issues that matter to them personally and then create artwork to raise awareness. With drawing apps like Draw Story and Artworkout, students can boost their creative, critical thinking, and communication skills through art. Collect the artwork into a slide presentation that can be shared across campus digital signage using a cloud management platform.
- #Hashtag Events
In today's social media-driven world, hashtags are ever-present. Students are well-versed in their use and understand their power to start a conversation. Why not leverage their familiarity with hashtags to inspire their writing? You can encourage students to use hashtags as writing prompts, tapping into their creativity and imagination. If you're wondering about the latest trends, just check Twitter or do a quick Google search. After reading or listening to a current news story, students can come up with hashtags that sum up the essence of the story. By incorporating hashtags into writing exercises, you can encourage students to think critically, connect with the world around them, and have fun while doing it!
Teachers can tap into students' interest in current events, including pop culture and political controversies, to enhance engagement in the classroom. By incorporating relevant and timely topics into lesson plans, teachers can significantly impact students' understanding of the world and their engagement with the subject matter. This approach also promotes empathy, understanding, and respect by exposing students to different perspectives and experiences. By embracing current events, teachers can create a dynamic and inclusive learning environment that encourages students to think critically and engage with the world around them.
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Originally published by Boxlight