Introduction

Studying current events helps students better understand their global community and the different cultures across the world. It is very easy to get caught up in our own lives and problems, and learning about current events can both ground and remind students of the world that exists beyond their communities. By teaching students about current events, educators are not only helping students stay informed about world news and social problems but also giving them the chance to build important life skills. The resources below can help educators implement current events into their curriculum. 

Resources

There are various online resources available for teaching students about current events. With students constantly receiving floods of false information via social media and the like, this topic may serve as a good opportunity for them to learn about using reliable sources and keeping up with world events.

Lesson Plans

  1. Academy 4SC: Find videos related to current events at Academy 4SC, like United States Postal Service: Neither Rain Nor Snow, Epidemics vs. Pandemics: Defining Global Diseases, and Legal vs. Moral: Written vs. Right, among others. Teachers have access to resources like worksheets, activity ideas, discussion questions, and more included in each topic’s lesson plan. Explore Academy 4SC’s full library of applicable content under the tag Current Events. Academy also has a Connections blog post series, which applies classroom material to what’s currently happening in the news.
  2. Teaching with Current Events in Your Classroom: Facing History and Ourselves has put together resources on COVID-19 and current events to help students “understand the complexity of the ongoing pandemic and its connection to history and current events.” They also feature collections on other topics that may appeal to educators, such as global immigration, democracy and civic engagement, and violence and injustice. In addition, the site is planning to release new teaching ideas and current event resources in mid-August, tailored for this upcoming school year!
  3. Teaching with Current Events: The Bill of Rights Institute provides many current events resources that fall into various categories, including gun rights, federalism, criminal procedure & due process, citizen juries, freedom of speech, individual liberties, separation of powers, student rights, etc. Using this resource, students can access dozens of articles on current issues related to politics and the American government.
  4. 50 Ways to Teach With Current Events: The New York Times’ The Learning Network offers fifty ideas for bringing current events into the classroom, grouped into a handful of categories: reading and writing, speaking and listening, games and quizzes, and more. Each of these ideas is accompanied by an explanation of the activity or project along with links which will guide educators on their journey to teaching about current events.

Articles

  1. Teaching Current Events in the Age of Social Media: Edutopia has published an article about teaching current events in the age of social media. The article recommends differentiating informational reading levels. The hope is that students can recognize the difference between true and false stories, as well as the importance of taking “breaks” from technology! This resource can give educators a better sense of direction on how to begin teaching students about current events.
  2. 8 Smart Ways to Teach Current Events in the Classroom in 2017: WeAreTeachers provides a list of eight ways to bring current events to the classroom, specifically for educators who teach younger students. The author recommends things such as analyzing data with websites like Flocabulary, reading picture books, gamifying current events, creating podcasts, and more. Educators can take a lot away from this resource, and these tips will help them make learning about current events more exciting for students!
  3. The Best Way to Teach Current Events? Let Students Lead: The organization KQED advises educators on a specific way of teaching current events, namely to let the students lead. The author, an educator herself, describes how she spoke with her own students about teaching current events and how to make it more meaningful. If students are able to choose the current event or issue they want to research, they are more likely to take something away from the assignment. This would be an ideal resource for high school educators who are looking for their students to take initiative. 

Informational Sites

There are numerous news outlets, national and international, and other organizations that report current news on topics such as history, science, travel, culture, weather, politics, technology, health, and world events. Depending on the grade levels educators are teaching and which topics they want students to focus on, the websites below may come in handy:

  1. StudentNewsDaily
  2. CNN 10
  3. Smithsonian Magazine
  4. National Geographic
  5. BBC News
  6. The New York Times
  7. The Washington Post

Conclusion

Teaching students about current events isn’t an easy task, especially since the majority of the stories in the news are unfortunately negative. When discussing current events in the classroom, it is important to also provide students with the necessary resources to cope with these negative stories. Because the news can be tough to talk about, educators should do their best to be honest about events but focus on the positive aspects. If a terrible accident occurred, was there anything positive that stemmed from it? Did the community band together to honor those who passed or create a new foundation in their memory? It may seem that the world pays more attention to the negative than the positive, but this is a chance for educators to change that narrative.

Additional Resources

  1. Current Events Lesson Plans & Activities: Share My Lesson provides an abundance of current events lesson plans and activities for elementary, middle, and high school students. Various resources of different topics are available, including activities, assessments, presentations, videos, and worksheets. 
  2. Twenty-Five Great Ideas for Teaching Current Events: Education World offers twenty-five great ideas for teaching current events in the classroom. For educators looking for general ideas to start with, this resource does a good job of providing unique activities and outlining the activity’s directions. Take a look!
  3. Engaging Ways to Relate to Current Events – News, Historians and Zombies: Resilient Educator presents four ways for educators to connect current events to social studies, including the PBS NewsHour Extra, a DIY NewsHour, Reading Like a Historian (which asks students to examine primary source documents as if they were historians), and Zombie-Based Learning (which was created by a social studies educator who used zombies to teach his students about geography, economics, and the patterns of human behavior).