The Scoop on Current Events!
Digging Deeper (Grades 4 and up)
- Begin by reading an old favorite—Jon Scieszka’s The True Story of the Three Little Pigs (ISBN 978-0670827596). In this spoof of the classic tale, the wolf claims that he’s been framed, that too much has been made of his “huffing and puffing,” etc. and that the world needs to know his side of the story. He builds a plausible case and wins our sympathy by the end. Have students summarize the story inten words or less.
- Follow the book with a discussion of point of view. Talk about how events can be perceived differently by different people. Drive home the point that all of us bring our experiences and biases to bear on an event, and that those can influence what we choose to portray about it. Reporting the news (especially “hot topics”) in an objective, unbiased manner is a challenge. Practice generating headlines that show varying points of view about an issue. Students should be encouraged to look for potential bias in what they read.
- Being able to distinguish fact from opinion is another important skill. This website has many excellent resources for you to give your students some practice. You’ll find Powerpoint presentations, games, templates and engaging activities in this subarea of the larger Pete’s PowerPoint Station site.
- Many of the web sources for news invite participation. This ties in nicely to other lessons about digital citizenship. Lead a discussion about appropriate ways to share reactions to and opinions about the news through commenting as part of the community of users. Set up guidelines for what makes for a quality comment and appropriate online behavior. Practice composing some whole-class comments.
- No unit of study about current events would be complete without a look at the role that images play to enhance understanding. Discuss the old adage “A picture is worth a thousand words.” The Big Picture –news stories in photographs--is a site with amazing photographs from current events. Use these images:
- As “you are there” writing prompts. Small groups of students can write first person pieces about the same photograph and compare theirs to those of their peers. This can lead back to the point of view discussions earlier.
- To challenge students to create headlines/leads that might accompany the images.
- To generate lists of potential “powerhouse” words that might be included in an accompanying article.
- To stimulate ideas for writing fictional pieces using the 5 Ws and H from the image.
- Spark interest in a topic for further reading. Captions should give enough information for students to find related articles from other news sources.