Read All About It!
Use today's news to make history relevant while creating lifelong learners.
By Bethany Bodenhamer
Oftentimes students struggle to enjoy learning history because it seems so distant from their everyday lives. But, if you incorporate current events into your curriculum, history becomes more relevant to your learners. Another benefit to discussing events in the news is the imparting of necessary lifelong skills by teaching students how to acquire, read, interpret, and connect events of the past to events of today.
Where to Find the News
Instruct your students as to where they can find current event information. To give yourself an idea of what your learners have access to at home, ask them questions such as:
- How do you hear about current events?
- Do your parents watch the news?
- Do you receive the newspaper at home?
Even if they have limited exposure to the news at home, access is still limitless thanks to technology. You have the opportunity to point them in the right direction as far as finding the news on phones, tablets, and computers. Give your class specific news outlets to look into—including but not limited to TV, newspaper, magazines, radio, and online newspapers, magazines, and websites. Spend a class period showing your class reliable sources from each outlet.
How to Read the News
Reading the news, in print or online, is something most learners aren't exposed to in school. Newspapers have many different sections, and your pupils need to learn where they can find certain topics. Identify the different sections, and then discuss the difference between the World, National, Local, Business, and Editorial sections. A fun way to get your historians used to navigating the news is to create a scavenger hunt for them to complete.
How to Interpret the News
Bias is inherent in the news. Without being properly taught how to detect and interpret such bias, pupils will have a very difficult time separating opinion from fact. Your students should be able to answer these questions:
- Why is the author reporting on this?
- What is his motivation?
- What is the author’s background?
- What is his main opinion?
When pupils are able to separate objective from subjective information (perhaps the most important step in teaching current events) they will be able to form opinions of their own. Teach your learners these valuable skills:
- Differentiate between blogs and credible news sites
- Know the difference between .com, .edu, .net, and .org
- Find the facts vs. opinions throughout the articles
How to Connect the News
This final step helps connect the events and concepts you are teaching to what is going on in the world around your students. It is helpful if you have major themes that allow you to connect both past and current events. For example, what similarities and differences can your historians find from the world wars to current wars? What civil rights issues are still in the news today? Following candidates, debates, and elections make the three branches and election process much more relatable. When teaching globalization and the effects of it, open the business section and follow the latest news of Apple, a well-known company who outsources. Teach the stock market by having your young economists create virtual portfolios with real-time stock information.
There are many great ways to incorporate the news and today’s events into your teaching. By encouraging your class to read and understand the news, and make connections to our past, you are helping to create lifelong learners.