Have you struggled to fit current events into your curriculum? Feel like current events is an "all-or-nothing" sort of thing to teach, and if you can't do it all, then might as well do nothing? I have. Here are two resources that have resolved that issue for me this year.
CNN Student News. Every morning at 4am, CNN creates a 10 minute news segment for kids. It's posted for free on their website, and teachers at my school have started showing it daily in homeroom. It's interesting and accessible for students, and they look forward to learning about the world every morning. They've even become fans of the anchor, Carl Azuz. There is tons of opportunity for discussion and follow-up reading, if time permits, and current events frequently connect with students' learning in their classes. I see this as a huge resource for increasing students' cultural capital. [Watch today's segment here.]
Upfront Magazine. This excellent current events magazine is a collaboration between The New York Times and Scholastic. My school ordered a subscription to it, and a class set arrives each month. We pass it among the different grades, so most students get a chance to read each issue. Students are very interested in the articles, which cover national and international news and issues. They are accessible for middle school readers, and they present a balanced view of most issues. I used this resource during a journalism unit to teach students about how feature articles are structured. Most of the articles in the magazine are features, with a few informational or Q & A pieces, and always a political cartoon. [View a sample issue here.]
During our journalism unit, I had several issues of Upfront as well as some other newspapers on the tables, and students got into the routine of simply reading the news at the start of class. It was very relaxing, introduces a large element of choice, and students learned a lot and became more curious about the world. Now, when the new issue comes, at least one teacher makes the magazines available for students at the start of class.
These resources have been so valuable to my students this year, and so convenient for me. Both present quality, age-appropriate ways to make current events a regular part of a middle school curriculum without having to "stop everything" and do current events for a few weeks, which I often see happen. These resources have helped me make it simply a part of my students' daily school experience, without leaving behind other important studies.
[image credit: http://classroommagazines.scholastic.com/products/the-new-york-times-upfront?promo_code=3791]