Posted on April 27, 2010 by Suzan Woodard in Uncategorized.
Current events provide a rich resource for building language skills and promote active learning. Vocabulary enrichment, reading comprehension, writing opportunities and improved critical thinking are just a few of the benefits of using a newspaper, magazine or other news source in the classroom. Social awareness and improved listening aptitude and verbal skills are added bonuses.
Here is a list of ideas to get you started.
10 Ways to Use Current Events in the Classroom
1. Take advantage of “Today in History” columns in newspapers and on news websites. Let children take turns reading the history snippets. They’ll love being “news anchor of the day.” Try the Associated Press history page or the BBC’s “On This Day” link.
2. Use news stories to develop reader comprehension. Remember the 5 W’s and the “H” question. Who? What? Where? When? Why? How? These six questions give children a simple way to start processing what they have read, heard or seen. Read an article together and have students answer the questions orally. Then give them article handouts and let them circle this core information with colored pencils.
3. Have students watch a TV weather story. They can draw a sun or clouds or a snowman and list the day’s highs and lows or write a paragraph about a weather event such as the recent tornadoes that hit the South.
Pair this exercise with engaging children’s picture books about weather such as “Tornadoes,” “Sunny or Cloudy,” “Droughts,” “Weather,” “Hurricanes,” “Blizzards,” “Countdown to Fall,” “Ice Storms,” “Christmas Eve Blizzard,” “Snow” and “Ocean Seasons” – all available online at Big Universe and perfect for Smart Board application.
4. Ask students to clip a magazine or newspaper article or print a current event from a kid-friendly online news feed like DOGO News. Have them read their articles’ headlines to the class. Then let the class play 20 Questions about a particularly intriguing headline to encourage interaction and investigation into the news story.
5. Talk about big news events and discuss how they affect people locally and around the world. For example, Iceland’s volcanic eruption had widespread impact. Planes couldn’t fly because of the ash cloud over Europe. Tourists couldn’t get home. Delivery of supplies for manufacturing was delayed, so many companies had to shut down production temporarily.
6. Display a “Where in the World?” map on a bulletin board. Discuss a current event and then tack a miniature flag (office supply aisle), identifying the location of the story. Soon you will have a visual reminder of all the places your class “visited,” expanding your students’ global awareness.
7. Find colorful adjectives in news stories. Distribute news clippings and have students highlight the descriptive words. Then have them rewrite a few sentences, substituting their own adjectives and adverbs for each highlighted word.
8. Write a “BigWigs” book. Watch, listen to or read a news story. Identify the names of local or national leaders. Who is your mayor? Who is your governor? Who is the president? Who are the leaders of other countries? Use this to lead into lessons about elections, voting and government. Have your students write a “BigWigs” book using Big Universe’s kid-friendly Author Tool. Don’t forget to explain the term “bigwigs” (aka “the big enchilada” or “the big cheese.”)
9. Let kids create their class spelling list for the week. Split students into groups of five and have them read a news article. They should select five new or interesting words from the story. Have them rewrite their five words and then alphabetize them or use them in a new sentence. Finally, compile a master list. Being involved in the list construction will spark interest and help students take ownership of the learning process.
10. Teach children how to have civil debate. Read an age appropriate news story or editorial. Divide kids into separate groups and let them role play different sides of an issue. Supply hats or other fun physical props to help them identify with people in the news. Act out what happened. The teacher or an outgoing child can portray a news reporter to stimulate conversation and deeper thinking. Switch roles and do it again.
Remember socially aware children armed with a well-rounded education are the peacemakers of tomorrow!