Current Events in the Classroom

September 29, 2011 at 6:09 pm | Posted in Content Area Literacy | 6 Comments

(authored by Katie Dardis)

Current events are available to us in a variety of ways, so why not take advantage and use them in the classroom! We can get current events from the newspaper, magazines and even the internet.  Students have these resources available, so as teachers we should bring them to life and put meaning to non-fiction reading.

In the article Extra, Extra, Read all about it! Current Events in the Classroom by Alycia Zimmerman,  she suggests this same idea.  She decided she wanted to start reading the newspaper everyday and then realized she could even get her students involved.  She even gives statistics that prove students have little interest in non-fiction reading.  However, since the implementation of the Common Core Standards, things need to change! Zimmerman suggests that current events are a great way to meet the requirements of the Common Core Standards.  She states that

as students read and discuss the current events, they analyze evaluate text claims, and determine the important ideas within a text. And news stories are generally short texts — perfect for shared reading, Socratic circle discussions, and homework assignments.

She then goes on to give examples of where news articles can be found that are age and grade appropriate.

I think it is great that this teacher is using current events in conjunction with the Common Core Standards.  It can be difficult to find non-fiction text that students can relate to.  Current events are happening in the world that the students live in so they are easier to relate to especially if the source comes from a local newspaper or website.  I am definitely open to using current events in the classroom because they are available and can be found very easily.  However, it may be challenging to find a variety of articles that the children can relate to, as well as material that is differentiated for the different levels of readers we may have in our classrooms.

If you were to use current events in your classroom, how would you differentiate? What types of articles would you choose? What activities could be used with the students? How can we be sure the students understand what they are reading?

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  1. I think it is a great idea to use current events in the classroom as well. Students are often unaware of what is going on in the world around them, and having them locate and read current events is a great way to broaden their experiences. I do think, however, that the reading levels would be difficult to differentiate for. One thing that I thought about when I was read this was to allow students to find and read current events in their native language, maybe that pertain particularly to their home country, that they could share with the class. Many students in our classrooms today are students who came here from another country, and I think that would be a great way to not only ensure that they are interested in what they are reading, but also would be great for providing the students with news and events from other areas of the world that they may be unaware of. A great way to use current events in the classroom is to have students find something they are interested in, read the articles, write their personal reaction to the articles, and have them share what they read with another student, small group of students, or the entire class. You could set aside a small chunk of time each day for students to share their current events. I think that writing about the events they are reading about is an important step in this type of activity. You want to make sure that the students are able to give their responses and opinions to these topics, to get them to take a more active role and become more involved. One way that the teacher can be sure that the students are understanding what they’re reading is by having them retell the current event, in their own words, to their peers. If the student can retell what they read and put their own spin on it, then you can ensure that they were able to make meaning from the text. I also think the use of current events is a great way to include different resources within the classroom, like our assigned chapters from our text book discussed. Several different times they said that it was essential to include multiple sources of text within the classroom and different lessons, such as magazines, newspapers, the internet, journals, etc.

  2. The NCTM reports:

    Students who study news and current events in school do better on standardized tests, develop and improve reading, vocabulary, math, and social studies skills, and continue to follow the news as adults.

    The article offers teachers many tips on how to incorporate current events into lessons, and gives examples on the different way current events can be used. I really liked the tip on how to “develop good consumers of math.” This tip talks about using current media to illustrate to students how advertisements misconstrue data to make it more appealing. I think this is a good way to develop students’ critical thinking skills.

    During one of my observation courses, I observed a lesson where students were to use a table containing the nutritional information for peanut butter. Each student was asked to write a news article, magazine ad, or commercial either for or against the product. The students were required to utilize the numbers from the peanut butter label and at least one statistic from an additional source as part of their output.

    This assignment incorporates so much into one lesson, critical thinking, persuasive writing, unit proportionality, research, maybe even art. This is a great example of literacy in the content area. It is self-differentiating; students are free to use almost any medium. …and it wasn’t that hard. I think that with a little creativity on our part, we could make our students proud.

  3. I agree that current events can be a powerful tool in the classroom. As Emily stated above, students are unaware of what is happening in the world around them. Using current event helps to extend lessons past the four walls that you teach in. Students are able to make real world connections to the content being taught within the classroom. Current events are also a great way to get students to read non-fiction. There is a stronger emphasis on student reading non-fiction in the classroom and current events are a great way to incorporate non-fiction text into lessons.

    I found a website that provides teachers with ten ways to use current events in the classroom. One of the strategies on this website is to have students pick out current events and bring it in. The student will then read their title to the class and the students have to play 20 questions to determine what the article is about. This could be a great pre-reading strategy. Students will then need to investigate to find out answers to those questions. (http://blog.biguniverse.com/2010/04/27/10-ways-to-use-current-events-in-the-classroom/). This is a great strategy because it allows for students to use skills that are imperative for reading comprehension.

    Current events help to build connections between content being taught in the classroom and the real world. By using current events in the classroom, students will not only build their literacy skills, but they will gain a deeper understanding of the content being taught. Students will also deepen their ability to read for meaning. Current events deepen student literacy skills and build connections between content and real world.

  4. I definitely agree that using current events in the classroom is beneficial. As mentioned in previous comments, it would allow students to connect the classroom to real world events, therefore, making the subject more meaningful. According to the Education World Website (http://www.educationworld.com/a_curr/curr084.shtml), classrooms that use current events produce higher scores on standardized tests. This article also points out that using current events increase effective reading improves vocabulary, develops word recognition and increases comprehension.
    It would definitely be difficult to differentiate for different levels of readers. One way to increase the effectiveness of current events when there is different levels of readers it to use different reading strategies. For instance, the article can be discussed as a class or a graphic organizer can be created. Activities to enhance current events in the classroom and improve reading would be using a think aloud, bookmarks, KWL and many other reading approaches. All of these methods would increase understanding and eventually improve readers that are not as effective. In addition, these reading techniques could be used as an assessment tool to see if students are noticing good reading behaviors and to verify students that may need additional help.
    When I am teaching Chemistry, I will certainly use current events in my classroom. The articles that I would choose will always relate to the chemistry content and ideally be relevant to the topics we are covering in class. By relating current events to topics in the classroom, students can make meaningful connections with the course content and, therefore, be able to establish a greater interest in science.

  5. I completely agree that students should be up on current events in the classroom. Not only would it benefit the students but it would benefit the teacher. I know from personal experience that I do not stay current on events as I should. I think that if I were to incorporate current events into my classroom it would force me to stay up to date and pay attention to the news, newspapers etc. By utilizing current events students can use inquiry skills to try and solve problems that may arise in the news. Also, it might be the only exposure they have to anything other than what they see/hear in their homes or school. It would give them a better perspective on life and maybe motivate them to do something they never thought about.
    According to the website PBS.org/now , “Raising student awareness of global issues is increasingly important as the countries of the world become more interdependent. At the same time, consuming domestic news with a critical eye is vital to enhancing democracy and defeating narrow-mindedness. Students also need an understanding of the world’s economy, politics, social structures and environment in order to make the best decisions about how to live their own lives. More than ever, an appreciation for news and our civic institutions is a key step toward self-empowerment and advancement.” This goes to show you that it becoming more important to expose students to things that are really happening in other places as well as their own community. The website provides a lesson plan on how to incorporate current events into the classroom.

  6. Here is the full wesbite address for the pbs.org site. I don’t know why it did not hyperlink

    http://www.pbs.org/now/classroom/lessonplan-03.html


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