PenPal News is a neat service that I learned about from David Kapuler. As the name implies, PenPal News connects classrooms across the U.S. and the world to create electronic PenPal relationships. But rather than just connecting classes, PenPal News connects classes to discuss current events. To help students understand the topics that they're discussing with their penpals, PenPal News provides short video introductions and articles about each topic.
PenPal News is currently connecting classrooms in the United States to discuss issues related to the Presidential Election. Next semester PenPal News will connect classrooms internationally to discuss world events.
The video below is from the current PenPal News curriculum on election issues.
Government from PenPal News on Vimeo.
Applications for Education
What I like about PenPal News is that it provides lessons that students have in common before they start writing. Even though the students will watch the same videos and read the same articles through the process middle school and high school students may be able to learn a bit about how personal background and local culture can influence interpretation of events.