Teaching Current Events in the Social Studies Classroom

The Portland Eastern Herald recorded on June 8, 1795 that

“Much has been said and written on the utility of newspapers; but one principal advantage which might be derived from these publications has been neglected; we mean that of reading them in schools.”

Although newspapers (in their printed form) are slowly but surely losing their footing as a primary source for news, one thing remains a constant: the affinity many people have for keeping up with current events. Whether it be from watching prime time nightly news programs or cable TV 24 hour news channels, listening to the radio, or browsing the multitude of internet news sources, keeping tabs on what’s going on in the world around us seems to be a timeless quest.

The implications of being well informed on current events are varied and and numerous. Few would argue against the benefits of having an awareness of what’s happening in the news . These benefits are not limited to an adult audience. Young people, particularly in middle and high school, have much to gain from being encouraged to explore what’s happening in the world around them… right now.

The Social Studies classroom is an ideal platform from which students can establish a foundation of awareness and inquiry. Current events offer the Social Studies teacher countless opportunities to make the curriculum relevant to our everyday lives. Education World‘s article “Why Teach Current Events?” asserts that teaching through a current events lens enables teachers to cover a wide range of subjects and connect to all areas of the curriculum, developing informed citizens and lifelong news readers.

Additionally, incorporating current events into the curriculum helps students

  • build language, vocabulary, reading comprehension, critical thinking, problem solving, oral expression, and listening skills.
  • understand the importance of people, events, and issues in the news.
  • pay attention to the news they see and hear outside of school.
  • see a “writing model” by which students can learn by imitating the clear, concise style of news writing.

Furthermore, teaching current events can open up communication between students and parents. The article states, “Students are often eager to emulate their parents’ news reading behaviors, and talking about the news is one way for parents to engage students in adult conversation.”

Finally, teaching current events creates plenty of opportunities for cooperative learning, classroom discussions and debates, and purposeful follow-up writing.

The following resources provide specific activities and strategies for teaching current events.

Twenty-five Great Ideas for Teaching Current Events

Methods of Teaching Current Events

Teaching Current Events Via Newspapers, Magazines, and TV

Awesome Library Lesson Plans

Feel free to share your thoughts, experiences, or tips for teaching current events.