In today’s world of digital media (mostly social media), our students often only hear about current events in passing. For instance, they may overhear a parent stream a news story broadcast on Facebook Live or accidentally catch a few seconds of the six o’clock news while flipping the Smart TV input to Netflix. Long gone are the times when a family would gather like clockwork around the television, eager for the news segment and then their weekly sitcom.
Even for our students with families who do gather in the living room, they are frequently busy scratching out a last-minute homework assignment, practicing ballet moves before the upcoming recital, preparing a take-home project for art class, or finding time to reheat last night’s leftovers. Today’s world is digital, but it’s also busy. Even if our students have the avenues to discover current events and news, they may not have the time.
Prepare Your Upper Elementary Students for the Real World
Today, more than ever, it is critical that we dedicate time in the elementary classroom to discuss current events! Teaching current events in the elementary grades is not only a great way to work with informational text to help with those standardized tests, but also equips these tiny humans to face the middle school, high school, and adult world. Beginning at this young and impressionable age, students are learning to discover, digest, process, and catalog the information they encounter. Now is the perfect time to facilitate this discovery by arming them with the skill-set to face what is also happening outside your four classroom walls!
Just as the days of black and white newsprint are gone, our students probably don’t have the patience to read and regurgitate news or information about current events. Instead, we can use many engaging techniques to capture a student’s attention. From analyzing the 5 W’s to speculation exercises, from fact finding to rhymes and raps, there are many current events exercises that will appeal to all learning styles in your classroom!
17 Ideas for Teaching Current Events
- Who, What, Where, When, Why, and How? Break down the basics by scouring an article to answer the W (&H) question.
- Main Point and Supporting Details: Use a graphic organizer to determine the main idea and supporting details.
- Article Evaluation: Evaluate the article’s features, like attention-grabbing quality, pictures, introduction, and more.
- Article Speculation: Speculate questions, answers, and alternatives for the article.
- Who Said That? Analyze a quote from the article, examining its importance.
- Finding Facts: Browse the story for facts and opinions, rating the facts.
- Pause and Ponder: Respond to the article with lingering questions you may have, and address the things you want to think about further.
- Article Vocabulary: Define uncommon or unknown words from the text, using them in a sentence.
- Text Features: Break down a text feature found in the article and examine how it assisted you as the reader.
- Questions: Using a spiraling format, ask questions about the article.
- Sequence: Sequence the events of the article in the order they occurred.
- Cause and Effect: Examine examples of cause and effect found in the article.
- Reflections: Record your thoughts and feelings about the article as you read.
- You Made the News! Pretend you are a person in the article and answer questions about yourself.
- Rhyme It, Rap It: Rewrite the article as a poem or song.
- Paired Articles Venn Diagram: Compare and contrast two articles in a Venn Diagram.
- Current Events Sharing: Analyze an article of choice, finding one that is shareable in the classroom by sifting out non-reputable sources, sports/entertainment articles, and outdated information.
Download your ready-to-use worksheets today!
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Teaching upper elementary students about current events not only prepares them for the next text, but also prepares them for the real-life media-driven world they will face once they walk through your classroom door. Preparing them to learn about current events in a fun, engaging way, while reiterating skills to compare, contrast, examine, and check validity, is a surefire approach to helping students lead successful lives! And, teaching them to avoid the over-common “quick-click-to-share” appeal will certainly pay off when our upper elementary children reach social media age and can quickly dispel click-bait media tactics – a skill that many adults could benefit from as well!