Current Events in the Classroom

One of the fun things I get to do is get out and observe some of my advisees as they student teach. It’s great to see them put the things they’ve been learning into practice and great to see them grow, especially if I get to see them teach a couple of times—it’s great to see their growth from the first observation to the second.

One of the other great things I get to see are some great new ideas or practices in the classroom. Last year I was able to go see one of our student teachers working at Watertown’s Riverside Middle School. (Tough commute for me—all the way across town. Thought I was trying to get through Chicago on a Friday afternoon.) Our student teacher was working on some great current event awareness activities that her cooperating teacher had been employing in the classroom.

Primarily, they were taking advantage of two resources, one free—one that isn’t. We’ll start with the good news, the free resource. CNN.com supplies a 10-minute online video that Riverside’s 8th graders watch, once a week, to get an overview of what’s going on. (Available at: http://www.cnn.com/studentnews/; if you stop by the site, you’ll see a wide array of other resources, too.)  Some events they hit are more significant than others, but you may find some value there. There’s certainly value in using the broadcast as a springboard for classroom discussion. Do you agree with the stories they featured? What would you have featured instead? Why do you think they put those stories in this week’s edition? And so on. These questions could lead to some great avenues for promoting media awareness, some increased awareness that media doesn’t “just happen,” you might say.

The other resource they use is a news quiz, available from Factorium. Factorium is produced here in Wisconsin, so it does have some “Cheesehead”-specific news items. It’s also for a fee; $180 per school, per year. Those two factors may make it undesirable for many of us, but it might be worth looking at their sample quiz to see how they do it; you might get some ideas of how to write your own—you know, in all your spare time. It might also be that your local newspaper (remember those?) might have a current events quiz or worksheet that you can use. At Riverside, they used it as a take-home worksheet that they went over the next day, then used it as the basis of a quiz the day after that. I was really impressed by how well the students responded to the current events focus, and their teacher told me he’d been really pleased with how they’d been responding, too.

I thought that these were some great applications—some of you are probably doing some similar things in your classrooms: Any you want to share with us?