Once upon a time I taught a World History class, and the only resource that I was given was a very thick 30-chapter textbook that essentially covered what I (somewhat) jokingly told students was the entire history of the entire world. To make the curriculum more attainable I made units focused on geographic regions that paired ancient and modern history to give students an idea of the trajectory of development. But development continued as my class went on and it continues as I write this. That is why this post is dedicated to ways to teach current events.
50 Ideas from the NY Times
Instead of writing about the many ways current events can be taught in the classroom, I’ll refer you to the New York Times article on 50 Ways To Teach With Current Events. One of my favorite “go-tos”, is analyzing photos to build visual literacy. When introducing a new topic in history, I often ask students to analyze an image and ask what is happening or what is going to happen next. Visual information is all around us, and building visual literacy is an invaluable skill to have.
Teaching With The News from Choices
I was teaching world history and Latin American history in Miami-Dade Public Schools when the 2010 earthquake tragically hit Haiti. I felt a great responsibility to teach my students what had happened and was happening, because of the content of my classes, but also because our school was preparing to receive more Haitian students in the coming months. I was very thankful that Choices Program from Brown University has a series for Teaching With The News. In 2010, within a few days I had access to quality materials to teach the complex history that was affecting Haiti. These days, there is a new lesson every month that addresses a polemic issue making headlines.
Strategies for Interpreting News
With everyone being so digitally connected these days, there is news all around us. But this article from Teach Hub gives strategies for teaching the news. On strategy that can help students visualize geographic regions is to map where the news is coming from. This can help students learn how balanced the sources of news are. Another creative idea mentioned is called Caption This, where students tell the who, what, when, where, and why of photos that have made the news.
When teaching with the news, it’s important as the teacher to stay current on what is happening. A benefit of being a history teacher is that you can focus on the news from the geographic area that you are currently studying. It’s also a worthwhile exercise to diversify the news sources from other countries. This will reinforce the standards of your course, and develop your students into cross-culturally aware citizens.
Originally published at https://teachenglishinrome.squarespace.com on January 8, 2019.