Problem solvers and decision makers are the top two skills employers are looking for in new hires. According to Forbes (http://www.forbes.com/forbes/welcome/), being able to communicate verbally is the next important skill. The rest of the top ten include skills such as: being able to organize, analyze data, proficient with computers, and possess technical or content knowledge necessary for the job and to write and speak proficiently.
We as teachers do a great job of teaching our standards but do we infuse enough “real world” into our classrooms? One easy way to increase problem solving and decision making in our classrooms while increasing non-fiction reading—NEWSPAPERS!
The use of newspapers can deepen learning while building language, vocabulary and reading comprehension. Learning about the world and exploring real world topics helps to develop synthesis of information and helps children make connections and cause and effect relationships. This helps students be more aware of their place in the world and how their behavior and skills can make an impact as they become adults.
Reading this list—are you thinking? My students are doing these things!! Using newspapers will increase our speaking, listening, reading and writing standards are a great foundation for building these skills.
3 Quick Ideas for Encouraging the Use of Current Events and Newspapers
- Watch and discuss the news: http://www.cnn.com/studentnews. CNN has a student news report daily. These are short and span a wide variety of current events across the globe. For younger students you could use National Geographic News: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/
- Pair students with a partner and have them share the most interesting fact or topic that they learned and why.
- Have students compose a summary of one news topic to share with their parent. Let them staple these in their planner and for homework have students share their learning.
- Use as a morning meeting discussion. What surprises you? What would you like to learn more about? What character traits did ________exhibit? Explain.
2. Project, Explore and Discuss the following site called Unfiltered News: https://unfiltered.news/#/2016/05/06. Click explore Visualization. This will create bubbles that contain the news headline topics that are trending across the world. On the left you will see a list of less reported topics will appear.
- Whole group discussion on the trending topics. Compare topics across regions or hemispheres for commonalities or differences.
- You can click a topic in a country and the actual news headlines will appear on the left. You can view the article in English or the native language of the country. (Take time to look at China—very cool) Divide students into 5 groups. Choose one topic and have each group read an article from different countries. After about 15 minutes, reorganize students so you have one person from each of the five groups in one group. (This is a jigsaw activity) One person will begin giving a summary of their article and then continue around to each person while they share how their article was similar or different. They should discuss: Were any facts different? Why might that happen? Was the tone different or the same?
3. One Question Interviews: Students can read any news article using any of the following sites:
- Use the following document. (One Question Discussion) Choose a news article and from the headline, have students create a question that they will answer from the article. You may have students consider perspective questions such as: Do you agree with ___________________? Who had the best solution to __________________? How would you solve ___________________?
- After students read the article. Each student interviews the others regarding their question and record their results.
- Student then will begin to look at the data or information they gathered and draw conclusions.
Learning what is happening in the world will help develop students as problem solvers and critical thinkers. When you need interesting non-fiction text, consider the news and bring in real world articles and topics with your students. When you need a distraction from test prep—try out one of these ideas! Next year, try to incorporate news into your classroom weekly!