Using Current Events As Content
Current events are very important topics for any curriculum. Here's why and some suggestions.
Ever since I can remember, I’ve been excited about knowing what’s happening in the world. News, weather, people … wars, business, cultural events … Here’s some proof, my grade 4 report card and my teacher’s comment.
I am like Hegel who quipped, “Ah! So wonderful to get up each morning, open the newspaper and find out what’s new in the world!”
Of course, nowadays we power up our devices and find out what’s new in the world!
Current events are something I advocate every teacher try to embed and use in their curriculum. For many important reasons and here is a brief summary of them. After running through these reasons, I’ll share some basic, core activities you can use to introduce current events to your students, as well as share for subscribers to this newsletter, a full ebook with pre-made templates and materials.
It’s a grown-up, mature topic. Believe it or not, even young students, children, want to tackle and take on topics that adults find important. Children think of current events and “the news” as a serious topic and they’ll bring that attitude to the lesson.
It’s real. The news is happening right now, in the here and now. It’s what the world is made of. Students appreciate dealing with this very real, authentic topic and material.
It’s citizenship. Democratic education is a core philosophy of our educational systems. It is encumbent on all teachers to help raise, critically aware, world-knowledgeable, engaged citizens. Otherwise, democracy doesn’t work.
Variety. Current events aren’t just dry, political topics! The weather is a current event. Society and celebrities are current events. Even the daily horoscope is a current event! There is something there for all of your students and for any type of lesson.
Practicality. Current events use vocabulary that students will use the rest of their lives. Students will also engage with current events long after they’ve left school. The news and journalism also provides fantastic, polished speaking and writing models for students to emulate.
Multi-disciplinary. Along with variety, current events also engages many types of knowledge. Social studies, history, science and more … Students learn much more than language and this content knowledge is so important to their education.
A Few Activity Suggestions.
Listening – The 5 ws! Get students to be the journalist.
Play any short clip or news report. Ask the students to list the “reporters” 5ws on a piece of paper.
Then check as a group or in pairs. Can they answer them?
This activity can also be done for any reading/text in the textbook. It
is invaluable to get the students themselves summarizing the content they’ve read or listened to.
What’s New In The World. Daily News Items.
Teachers can allot time each lesson, at the end or beginning, to bring up what’s new in the world, what’s in the news. Provide students with a tracking sheet and for each day of the week and they list the details of one current event / news story for each day that week. Friday, review and compare together.
Fact Or Opinion
Media literacy, the ability to critically evaluate the information we consume, is an important skill all students need to develop. Put a list of statements on the board. Ask students if they are facts or opinions. Example.
Action movies are the best.
The world goes around the sun.
Water comes from the sky.
There are 50 states in the USA.
London is the best city in the world.
Discuss and teach students the differences between facts and opinions. After, provide students with a list of statements to quiz each other and see how good their critical awareness truly is.
Project. Design A Newspaper.
Students can design their own magazine or newspaper. Write the headlines, design the layout, write the articles. Publish copies. Provide students with examples and a template for the project. Students can also do this online with a webpage, a google doc or on their blog.
Analyze A Current Event
Students can dig into one current event and analyze it. Provide a full description, write up their opinion about the event and what it means for society.
Prompts / Discussion
News photos from AP or Reuters can be used in class and are great prompts for use in class. Show a photo and ask students what they story might be. What’s happening? Where in the world is it? What’s the context, background?
Also, just a regular discussion with some general questions can make a great, engaging lesson for students.
Another media literacy topic that is important for students to tackle is fake news. What is fake news? How do you spot fake news? Provide examples and get students to identify if the stories are fake or real. Here is a nice, concise video on the topic. Subscribers, download the full lesson packet on Fake News below.
What current events lessons have worked in your class? What current events topics are popular with your students? Let us know!
Keep reading with a 7-day free trial