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Incorporating current events into lesson plans
FRIDAY, MAY 15, 2015 10:35 AM

One of the main responsibilities educators have is helping students become informed citizens of the country. In 11th and 12th grade, the Common Core State Standards ask teachers to have students read certain U.S. foundational documents, including the Preamble to the Constitution, the Bill of Rights and the Declaration of Independence. Why? Partly because teaching students these aspects of American history gives them context for the situations that are currently arising in the news. Keeping students abreast of current events is an important way to help them become informed about the world around them and develop educated opinions. And believe it or not, current events can be used in almost any subject. Take a look at some ideas for incorporating news into mathematics and English/language arts classrooms:

In math classes
There are tons of current events that can in some way be related to mathematics. The most obvious type of news to use in math classes is sports, since they perfectly align with statistics lessons. What types of probabilities and statistics can you deduce from a baseball player's batting average or a team's wins and losses so far this season? But that's not all - look to the politics section of newspapers to see what kinds of budget debates are going on. Are any federal or state taxes increasing? Is a politician trying to cut spending? You can even give your students their own "budget" and have them allocate it between a few different entities. 

In ELA classes
Current events can also be used in any number of ways in English/language arts classrooms. One idea is to connect a text you're reading in class to a current news story. Literature is full of themes that can be related to current events, such as race relations, overcoming adversity, loss of innocence or even taking a journey. News stories themselves can also be a valuable tool for improving reading comprehension and analysis as well as helping students learn to gather information. Come up with a general topic, like education, family or money, and have students look through the day's newspapers to see if they can find articles related to it. Then have them create a thesis for a hypothetical research paper in which they could use the news article as one of their sources.

Remember that the current events you teach in your class don't have to be negative. Look at sources like Upworthy or Humans of New York to find stories of inspirational people. Or, have students research inspiring teenagers online.