Thursday, March 26, 2015

What's it to you?

You can check out our presentation about incorporating current events into the classroom through the activity What's it to you?

Here are my thoughts about using current events in the classroom and the NewsELA site... enjoy!

This semester I was introduced to a website called NewsELA.  NewsELA contains nonfiction literacy and current event articles that can be accessed by students.  NewsELA contains articles that range from topics such as War and Peace, Kids, Sports, Health, etc.  The articles on NewsELA can be read in different levels which enable them to be used across a wide range of grade levels and student abilities.  Additionally, teachers can assign articles to be read at home or in school and can assign quizzes or writing assignments to be done right on the NewsELA website.
There are many reasons to teach current events in the classroom.  According to Wise Owl Kids (n.d.) teaching current events in the classroom is important because it enables students to become more conscious of the world around them and understand how world events impact them as citizens.  Additionally, providing students with information about current events allows them to become more active participants in their community.  Hopkins (2010) indicates that there is a large amount of research that supports using current events in the classroom.  He suggests that newspapers allow students to become better readers, increase their awareness and interest in current events, and develop and improve reading comprehension, vocabulary, and word recognition skills (Hopkins, 2010).  According to Hopkins (2010) another added benefit of teaching current events in the classroom and having students read the newspaper is that it increases the likelihood that students will continue to read the newspaper as adults.  Furthermore, DeRoche (1991) suggests that using newspapers and current event articles in the classroom will foster a positive attitude for reading non-fictional material and increase standardized test scores.  
There are many ways to incorporate current events activities into the classroom.  Wise Owl Kids (n.d.) suggests multiple activities that can be used in the classroom to incorporate current events.  Some of the activities suggested by Wise Owl Kids (n.d.) include identifying why a particular article is considered news, identifying the five W’s, identifying facts and opinions, and many more.  One great aspect of NewsELA over traditional newspapers is that the articles on NewsELA are student friendly, the difficulty of the article can be altered to meet each student’s ability, students can access the same article at home and at school, NewsELA incorporates technology in the classroom, and note taking and comments can be make directly on the article in NewsELA.  Furthermore, teaching current events in the classroom can be directly tied to the New York State Common Core State Standards for ELA and Social Studies. 
I will definitely incorporate current events into my future classroom through the use of sites like NewsELA, similar websites, or traditional newspaper and magazine articles.  Using current events is a great way to allow students to connect with what is happening within our community and the world as a whole while promoting literacy in the classroom.  NewsELA is a fantastic website because it allows an articles difficulty level to be changed so that all students may read the article on a level that is suitable for them.  It was helpful to use NewsELA and see all of the great opportunities the website has.  There is an abundance of different articles that can appeal to many interest levels and allow students to find articles that they are interested in without having to look in traditional newspapers that may or may not have information that is not sensitive enough for younger students to view.  I was very impressed with NewsELA and all that the site has to offer.  I am thankful to be able to have gotten the opportunity to access and utilize the site this semester.  However, I do feel that just reading the articles and taking a quiz or completing a short writing assignment is not enough to really utilize the article in the classroom.  I think that using the article in discussions or other activities as suggested on Wise Owl Kids is a better way to use the articles from NewsELA in a literary way in the classroom, as well as a great way to get students engaged in current events and what is happening in our society.
I am grateful that I have been exposed to NewsELA and the Wise Owl Kids website containing different activities and creative ways to incorporate current event articles in the classroom.  In regards to using NewsELA in future social studies methods classes, I would not use the quiz and writing option on the articles.  I feel that this is not the best way to allow us at graduate students to learn new strategies for incorporating current events into the classroom.  I am a strong proponent that only reading and answering questions is not the best way to promote higher order thinking and learning.  I did enjoy creating the PowerPoint presentation highlighting a way to utilize NewsELA with activities, however, only reading and answering questions online was not beneficial.  Therefore, I will be sure to adhere to the five principles of teaching and learning as identified by the National Council for the Social Studies which are essential to a social studies program.  These principles state that social studies teaching and learning are powerful when they are meaningful, integrative, value-based, challenging, and active (National Council for the Social Studies).  In order to provide a powerful social studies experience to students, it is imperative that these principles be followed.  By providing students with a meaningful experience that is integrative, challenging, active, and based on value, students are able to make connections, activate their prior knowledge, and gain a deeper understanding of what they are learning.  Therefore, I will be sure to incorporate these principles when designing my activities and lessons for current events.  After completing this process, I will definitely use current events and engaging activities to implement social studies learning in my future classroom.     

DeRoche, E. F. (1991).  The newspaper: A reference book for teachers and librarians.  Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-Clio Inc.

Hopkins, G. (2010).  Why teach current events? Education World, Retrieved April 2, 2015 from

National Council for the Social Studies. (n.d.) Principles of teaching and learning.  Expectations of Excellence: Curriculum Standards for Social Studies.  Retrieved March 20, 2015 from

Newsela | Nonfiction Literacy and Current Events. (2015, January 1). Retrieved April 2, 2015, from

Wise Owl Kids. (n.d.) Current events. Retrieved April 2, 2015 from

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