Global Issues & Current Events Awareness in the Classroom

Instructor: Christopher Sailus

Chris has an M.A. in history and taught university and high school history.

In this lesson, we explore some methods by which you can assess how much your students know about current events. We will also detail a few activities to drum up greater awareness of the news among your students.

Small World

Rarely a week goes by without someone remarking about how the world is getting smaller. What they mean by that is that it is becoming easier and easier to learn and know about things happening entire continents away in real time. Whether through Twitter, Facebook, or even traditional print and radio media, it's nearly impossible for a major international event to happen in the 21st century without the rest of the world knowing about it immediately.

In this increasingly connected world, it is incredibly important that today's students be up to date on current events, have knowledge about where to get good information, and have the tools and skills necessary to interpret it. In this lesson, we will discover how to get your students to engage and understand current events.

Assessing Your Students

News and current events are generally good topics to be covered in history, government, civics, or other social science courses. But even if you teach science or English, you can still use important news items pertinent to your field or simply discuss current events with your home room class. After all, understanding the news and current events helps your students make informed decisions in all aspects of their life, including future career choices.

But how much do your students know about current events? How can you tell? It is important to gauge just how well read your students are before diving into a current events unit. After all, if your students don't know where Syria is, or perhaps that it is even a country, it wouldn't make much sense to study several articles about military and political maneuvers in the Syrian Civil War, would it?

There are a few different ways to gauge how much your students know about current events. The easiest, and perhaps simplest, way is to hold an informal class discussion about current events. Ask some questions about the latest news items, be they political, scientific, or in foreign affairs. It shouldn't be too hard to grasp how much of your class pays attention to the news and just how involved they are in the stories.

If this fails to give you a clear picture, a short quiz that will not count toward their grade should give you an accurate assessment on your class's grasp of current events. For example, a 10-question multiple-choice quiz asking headline questions like 'What did President X say at Event Y last week?' or 'What major discovery was made by researcher X last week?' should be adequate.

Once you have correctly assessed the level of your students' involvement, you can then prepare lesson plans around current events that are appropriate.

Current Events Activities

There are a few different ways to approach current affairs with your students. One of the best ways is to allow each student to choose an article they want to investigate. This will not only allow each student to choose whatever topic they are interested in, but also guarantees that your class ends up with a wide variety of current events to discuss. Make sure your students are choosing actual news articles--with the wealth of information on the internet and in print, it can be easy for your students to choose something that is not actual news, like a tabloid piece or a satirical article. It is wise to direct your students to choose articles from the same newspaper or from the same website.

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