Using current events to inspire learning
In our fast-moving 24-hour world, current events don’t stay current very long. It can be challenging even to determine what qualifies as news, given the proliferation of websites with sketchy, partisan, inaccurate or wholly false information. Nevertheless, there is a place in the classroom for current events, either clipped from a reputable newspaper (or printed from the paper’s website). Reading and discussing the news of the day gives students a healthy interest in the world around them. Controversial topics stimulate classroom debate and allow kids to see themselves as potential agents of change.The news can also be used across the curriculum to add texture and context to lessons. Language Arts classes may study the traditional format for news writing, but might also make use of the paper for off-beat, fun activities.

  • Send students on a newspaper scavenger hunt for the parts of speech. Make it fun by allowing them to choose which section (news, lifestyle, sports, travel) to search. Provide Stacking Highlighters so they can colour-code the nouns, verbs, adjectives and adverbs they find.
  • The news is full of jazzy descriptors. Ask kids to find adjectives from A to Z. They can underline the words and list them in dedicated spiral notebooks.
  • For older students, current event projects can be a way to show how subjects (such as math) can be used in everyday life. Have students search the Web for five different news stories that cover the topic of math. The articles they find can be stored on a USB drive and shared with the entire class.

Many students have trouble seeing how math skills apply to the real world. Help them find math useful by using the numbers in the news.

  • Choose a news story with facts that could be graphed. The rising cost of gas, for example, or the population of your community. Challenge students to create graphs that show the information clearly. A graph paper notebook is a necessity!
  • Make it local with real estate math. Have students find the average price of ten homes advertised for sale in your neighbourhood.

Scientists are exploring exciting frontiers in every realm, and it all gets reported in the news. Even parts of life we take for granted—like the weather—make the newspaper indispensable.

  • The weather pages in many newspapers list high temperatures in cities all over the world. Post a world map on the wall and have kids place coloured sticky tabs in warmer and colder places. Have them develop theories to explain why the temperatures are so different at the same time of year.
  • Ask older students to critique the science reporting in the paper. Did the journalist explain the results clearly? Is any important information missing from the article? Is the reporting slanted to make a particular point?

The uses of current events for the study of civics and history need no explanations.

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