A few months ago, a friend of mine asked me how to get her students to follow current events. I guess she asked me because she assumed that I talk current events in my class, which I do... but I do not spend a lot of time asking my kids to regularly read the news.
I think I am ready to change that. There are a lot of different ways to get your kids involved in current events, so here are some suggestions.
Flipboard has been around for a while. My friend used this suggestion with her APUSH class, and says that it is a pretty good way to get kids to read articles she finds on the web.
I decided I was going to create a bunch of magazines (LovGov's Politicool Spot, Teacher Toolkit, and World Our-Story.)
Flipboard is a website and an app you can install on android and iOS devices. It presents content like a magazine on your mobile devices, where you can flip through the pages and read it like traditional print media. You can share stories via social media, as well as import your Facebook and Twitter feeds as a magazine.
Any URL can be captured and placed as a story in your feed, and you can either allow public viewing or editing. It's a pretty great way to get news in a user-friendly format.
This is superior to what I do now, which is share links on Facebook and Twitter. Those can be painful to go back and read. People can also comment on the article (which may be helpful for assigned readings to allow students to respond for participation points). When you flip your article into Flipboard, you can comment on the article to make connections to major content.
If differentiation and assessments are your game, consider Newsela.
You can get this as free service or pay for an upgrade with Newsela Pro, but this site helps you assign and differentiate the same article for different reading levels and assess their comprehension through assessments. Pretty cool. There are even weekly current events quizzes created for you to keep track of what your students are doing.
Student News Daily
Another service that curates articles on current events, the SNP formats their website to replicate the various pages of the newspaper. Students get an opportunity to take weekly tests based on the readings. SNP also offers an app as well as free resources on teaching media literacy.
Pew Research Center's News IQ Test
Have your student compare their current events knowledge to a periodic national survey with this short test. Afterwards, they can learn more about what the nation knows in an informative analysis of our collective knowledge.
NYT & WAPO Programs
More free resources for your classroom are available on the New York Times' Learning Network and the Washington Post's Newspaper in Education programs that curate articles as well as offer resources for teaching media literacy and current events.
Tackling media literacy is a bigger issue. I have the luxury of taking my kids to the Newseum once a year to have classroom instruction on bias, newsworthiness, and ethics. If you are visiting DC, this is always a hit with my seniors. If you are not, checkout their digital classrooms resources. I especially like their NHD collection; what a great resource for kids doing NHD! There are other organizations that are out there that tackle these issues.
The News Literacy Project is a great resource in education, and they are working on many different resources. Digital workshops, student programs and classroom workshops are all great resources that bring journalists to you; they may require you seeking out a grant. But, you get real journalists and experts from the field tackling these issues. This may appeal to folks who also teach courses in School Newspaper and the like. The NLP also has a teachable moment blog, where the experts sit down and analyze some aspect of reporting through the lens of current events.
There are a ton of great resources out there to help get kids involved with current events. Here are a few of my favorites:
NPR's Wait Wait Don't Tell Me
NPR's On the Media
Photo via Flickr/Ted Eytan