Start a Conversation: Classroom Resources about Teaching with Current Events
Students are affected by events that are happening in their communities and what they see in the news. Classrooms are great places to engage in conversation about current event topics. Many topics are controversial, but when conversations are implemented with care, students can have difficult, but effective conversations with each other. The article “Teaching Current Events and Media Literacy: Critical Thinking, Effective Communication, and Active Citizenship” by Karon LeCompte, Brooke Blevins, and Brandi Ray (2017) emphasizes the importance of bringing current events into classrooms as well as a process for engaging students. The authors state that “Discussions of current events teach students how to engage in effective conversations about things that matter in their lives” (p. 17). Teaching current events can encourage students to research a topic, learn about multiple perspectives, articulate and revise their perspective, engage with each other, and take action.
We would also like to stress the need to understand and address trauma when considering teaching current events. Many students, families, and educators have experienced or are experiencing trauma related to what is being taught. We shared some resources about addressing trauma in the classroom in our blog, “Start a Conversation: Classroom Resources about Race and Racism.”
Here are a few resources with strategies to use when teaching current events, as well as some lesson plans.
- Teaching Tolerance has a public learning plan about “Bringing Nonfiction & Current Events into the Classroom,” which includes information, teaching strategies, and student tasks.
- The Anti-Defamation League has a blog post, “Let’s Bring Current Events to life in the Classroom,” that discusses misconceptions about student engagement and ideas to address current events in the classroom.
- Third-grade teacher Erin Chavez discusses how she uses the Inquires tool from C3 Teachers to teach current events in a National Education Association Blog “Works4Me.”
- The article, “Teaching the ‘Hard History; behind Today’s News” by John Rosales in neaToday, covers examples of educators using current events in their classrooms.
- The University of Michigan has a webpage with resources about “Discussion-Based Teaching and Handling Controversial Topics in the Classroom.”
- KQED offers a lesson plan that includes “4 Steps to Help Students Discuss Real Issues and Tackle Misinformation.”
- Facing History and Ourselves provides several classroom resources about “Current Events in Your Classroom: Teaching Ideas, Activities, and Strategies for Middle and High School Students.”
- KQED has a list of lesson plans focusing on the specific current event of “History of Policing and Today’s Calls for Reform.”
- The National Education Association’s edJustice has a list of classroom resources talking about race, Black Lives Matter at school, and Art and Activism. They also have a lesson plan about “Teaching With The News.”
- PBS has a lesson plan about “How to Teach Your Students About Fake News.”
**We hope that these resources from crucial organizations help you have conversations with your students, families, and communities. There are many more resources out there, and we encourage educators to continue to research and utilize resources created by BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) communities and organizations..**
Karon LeCompte, Brooke Blevins, and Brandi Ray “Teaching Current Events and Media Literacy: Critical Thinking, Effective Communication, and Active Citizenship” in Social Studies and the Young Learner 29 (3) pp. 17–20