Teaching Current Events: Resources for Teachers

| November 7, 2013

News stories offer many possibilities when it comes to bringing new topics to life in the classroom. For one thing, teaching students about current events allows for a multitude of opportunities to help students understand contemporary culture and gather their thoughts on issues as they unfold. Current events can be used as jumping off points for deeper exploration of controversies, political issues and major events, but teachers are often at a loss for how to make use of the “news” as a topic for classroom discussion and further debate.  Below is a partial list of highly praised web resources which can help teachers plan lessons around current events and topics in the news.

Kids learn about the world through news stories in the classroom. Photo courtesy of Flickr/LizMarie_AK

New York Times: Teacher Connections

A free resource geared to students in grades 3-12, the New York Times Teacher Connections includes a daily lesson plan on a particular topic in the news and a schedule of all upcoming lesson plans to be presented in the week to follow on current events about topics in science, technology, history, geography, and other subjects.

United Nations: Cyber School Bus

Arranged by topic, the curricula included on the UN’s website for educators include full syllabi on issues such as peace education, world hunger, workers’ rights, and the world’s indigenous communities and peoples. Interactive teaching tools are also available that cover the UN’s Millennium Development Goals, nuclear disarmament, and human rights around the world.

PBS Newshour: Extra

A popular offshoot of the PBS’s Newshour, this site offers teacher resources and news for students in upper level grades 7-12. Lesson plans are broken down by subject area, with a particularly strong archive on topics in Media Literacy.

CNN: Student News

Designed to be used in middle and high school classrooms, CNN’s Student News site provides daily streamed 10-minute news program (also available as a transcript) as well as accompanying curricula that present lists of questions about key concepts and issues for discussion. The archive can be browsed by date, but unfortunately is not searchable by topic.

Scholastic News Online

Kid news at its most insightful, Scholastic News Online delivers in-depth articles and short news items on a wide range of topics, as well as games, quizzes, and suggestions for classroom debates. Challenging words are presented in boldface, with a wide range of context clues useful for helping students to build their vocabulary.

Do you have any comments or suggestions about the best ways to incorporate current events topics into classroom curricula? Send us an email. The best ideas may be shared with other teachers in a future post on Learning at the Library.