It’s important for students not only to pay close attention to the events that are going on in their lives, but also to the events that are going on in the city, state, region, country and the world in which they live. Yes, current events are important. And arguably today, more so than ever, students are only preoccupied with what’s going on in their immediate lives and not what’s going on elsewhere. And with the 24/7 news cycle and the plethora of ways that information is now garnered (i.e., TV, radio, social media, etc), staying on top of current events can be a challenge.
That’s why it’s important for teachers to instill the importance of staying on top of current events at an early age. This can be accomplished through various activities and assignments in the classroom. Here are some ideas for current events elementary education assignments that teachers can use in their classrooms:
One way to really get students to pay attention to the news and what’s happening in the world is to assign event presentations. Consider dividing students up into groups and having one group present an “Event of the Week” of a current event that they find interesting to the class every Friday. This encourages the students to read newspapers, do Internet research, watch the news and understand for themselves why such an event is so important. Encourage the students to answer the questions of who, what, where, when, why and how in their presentations. Also encourage students to back up their presentations with newspaper clippings, TV news segments and any historical context that needs to be shared. Have groups rotate throughout the year presenting on current events each week.
CNN is one of the best TV resources for staying on top of everything that’s happening domestically and internationally. Consider setting aside some time each day or each week to tune into a CNN broadcast with students. While this isn’t particularly an assignment, per say, doing so can tune students in on some of the most popular stories going on in the world. If a teacher is unable to set aside time per day or per week to devote to CNN, consider doing so for important national and world events, like presidential elections and inaugurations and anything breaking news that is appropriate for school children to observe.
Create a newspaper
While print newspapers may have taken a hit with the rise of the Internet, they are still an ideal way to learn about what’s going on in the world. And studies indicate that students who have access to newspapers are more likely to be interested in reading them and learning about what’s going on in the world. Hence, teachers should consider having students make their own newspaper as part of a class assignment, including city, state, national and world sections. This encourages students to pay more attention to everyday happenings, as they’ll need to decide what to give precedent to in their newspaper. Have students complete this project using the Internet to print out stories and photos, and be sure to have art supplies and art paper on hand for them to layout and design their own newspaper. Also encourage students to look at existing newspapers to get design ideas for theirs. This can be an enjoyable project that yields a lot of unique results.
City Council assignment
Every city has a city council that meets, typically on a weekly or bi-weekly basis. As part of a way to make students understand the important issues that their city faces, make them attend a city council meeting and write a report about what was talked about, what issues were brought to the table and what the council did to resolve any issues. Not only can this help keep students in touch with their community, but it can also introduce ways that they can help their city thrive and overcome obstacles – all at an early age. If the city is small and intimate enough, the student may even be able to interview the mayor or some city council members about some of the big issues the city is facing before or after the meeting to enhance the written report.