Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Three Good Resources for Developing Lessons About Current Events

Earlier today on Twitter someone asked me for suggestions for resources to use to teach students about current events. Three resources quickly came to mind. Those are Newsela, Youngzine, and Trend Watch. Read on to learn more about each of these resources.

Trend Watch is a feature of Merriam Webster's website. Trend Watch highlights words that are trending in news and popular culture. Trend Watch includes an explanation of why each word is trending, a definition for the word, and a picture that is representative of either the word or the cause of the trend. Trend Watch could be a good source of words to include in the vocabulary lists students are studying in a language arts course. Trend Watch words could provide a good tie-in with a current events lesson. Because of the wide variety of words that pop-up in Trend Watch I probably wouldn't send younger students to the site on their own. Instead I would bookmark the list and select appropriate words for my students.

Youngzine is a website site features news, sports, and entertainment stories for elementary school students. One of the best aspects of Youngzine is its classroom blogs featureYoungzine classroom blogs enable teachers to create a private online space for their students to use to discuss news stories. As a teacher you can register your students on Youngzine and assign them to your classroom. Then within your Youngzine classroom you can assign articles for your students to read, ask them to response to articles and discussion prompts, and view their scores on the Youngzine weekly quiz. In addition to the classroom blog option featured above, Youngzine also offers students the option to contribute their own reporting to the site through the U-Write section of the site. Students can sign-up individually to contribute to Youngzine's U-Write section or a teacher can register his or her entire class.

Newsela is a service that aims to help teachers find current events articles that are appropriate for their students' age and reading abilities. On Newsela you can find articles by selecting a topic, grade level, and reading standard from a series of menus on the homescreen. The "standards" menu allows you to choose the reading skill or task that you want your students to develop. Many of the articles on Newsela have reading comprehension quizzes attached to them. Last year Beth Holland wrote a great overview of how to use Newsela in conjunction with Google Documents. You can read her article here.