With the 24-hour news cycles that exist today, educators are faced with a challenging range of important topics to potentially address in the classroom, but actually teaching current events is easier said than done. From world-changing humanitarian situations to smaller developments unfolding at the level of one’s community, wading into these waters can be complicated, particularly without the support of best practices. How do we cultivate safe and brave spaces for our students and ourselves as we navigate the many issues of the day? And what does it look like to do this skillfully amidst the escalating culture wars that polarize discussion and the challenge of media literacy in a “post-truth” world?
Check out these six classroom resources that you can use to up your game when preparing to teach about current events:
- Current Events Teacher Checklist PDF Workbook
Download a printable PDF workbook of our teacher checklist for preparing to teach current events to middle and high school students. We include recommended news sources, key questions to ask as yourself as you plan, and strategies for navigating emotionally difficult or complex topics.
- Fostering Civil Discourse: How Do We Talk About Issues That Matter?
Engaging in civil discourse means bringing your mind, heart, and conscience to reflective conversations on topics that matter, in ways that allow you to extend your understanding in dialogue with others. It does not mean prioritizing politeness or comfort over getting to the heart of the matter. The ideas and tools in this updated version of “Fostering Civil Discourse: How Do We Talk About Issues That Matter?” are designed to help you prepare your students to engage in civil discourse, whether you are teaching in-person, remotely, or transitioning between the two.
- How Did We Get Here?: Policing and the Legacy of Racial Justice
This series of Teaching Ideas is designed to help students think critically about the long and troubling history between law enforcement and Black Americans. Use these Teaching Ideas to help your students bring a historical lens to these complex issues, engage with nuanced sources that reflect a range of experiences with policing, and consider ways to build a society that ensures the safety of all people.
- After Charlottesville: Public Memory and the Contested Meaning of Monuments
This lesson is designed to help students understand the role that memorials and monuments play in expressing a society’s values and shaping its memory of the past. The lesson invites students to explore how public monuments and memorials serve as a selective lens on the past that, in turn, powerfully shapes our understanding of the present. It also explores how new public symbols might be created to tell a countervailing narrative that seeks to change or correct the previous, dominant understanding of history.
- Assessing the Strength of Democracy
This Teaching Idea provides students with an opportunity to explore and deepen their understanding of the concept of democracy and equips them with a framework to assess the health of a democracy. The resource also invites them to make meaning of news stories that report on democracies at risk in the world today. In the final activity, students connect their own understanding of democracy to the following quote from civil rights leader John Lewis: “Democracy is not a state. It is an act, and each generation must do its part to help build what we called the Beloved Community, a nation and world society at peace with itself.”
- Explainer: Free and Fair Elections
Elections are the essence of democracy. They allow people to select their political leaders and then to hold them accountable. But for elections to fulfill their critical function, they must be free and fair. Just holding an election is not enough: if some citizens are prevented from voting or the results are not counted properly, an election can’t be called “free and fair.”
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