Saturday, August 13, 2011

A 21st-Century Twist on Current Events Classroom Activities

Remember the days of "Current Event Fridays" in Coach Whatshisname's class? You remember, every Thursday night or Friday morning before school, you stole your father's newspaper (yes, real paper newspaper) to clip an article to paste into a folder and turn in for a completion grade. Hopefully those days are gone for good in your school. If you're still observing something similar in your classrooms, it's time for an update.

Imagine a social studies class in a computer lab or in a class in which everyone has a laptop, an iPad or a smartphone with access to the Internet. Now imagine that after a week of teaching and learning about a particular topic, the student's walk in to discover "Current Event Day" written on the board. The teacher instructs the students to go to Google, then to click the News link at the top left. The teacher the says, "Today's current event topic is Arab Spring. Go!" Immediately the students enter the phrase, hit return and start claiming articles: "I've got the Guardian article" and "I've got one from the New York Times" and "Here's one from the Pakistan Daily Times" and "Cool! Here's one from The Onion!" and yet another says "How about one from Al Jazeera?" Ten minutes later, the teacher leads the class in a deep, meaningful discussion of the Current Event Day topic but with input based on global and widely varied perspectives.

Now imagine this same scenario happening in math class, or science class, or lit class, or...

The benefits should be obvious: the current event info actually can be current now; kids are plugged in and engaged; the activity lends itself to reading-writing-discussion or problem-solving (depending on how the teacher customizes the activity); the activity can be used in any class at virtually any level K-12; kids don't need to rustle up someone's newspapers; kids can have a truly global experience quickly and easily.

This is an easy way to keep an age-old favorite activity of teachers at all levels without staying stuck in a rut. Give this a try in the first few weeks of school and I promise you and your teachers will never go back to the old current events assignments again.

1 comment:

Jim Brown said...

I"ll be trying this in class today.