#ClasskickChat Recap: How can we make sure that students
are informed about what's going on around the world?

#ClasskickChat November 1, 2016

You may have seen 50 Ways to Teach with Current Events from The New York Times or 25 Great Ideas for Teaching Current Events from Education World, but whether you are teaching social studies or geometry, your students are likely walking in asking questions and talking about the world around them. 

Are you and your students discussing: 

  • the U.S. Presidential candidates and debates?

  • the controversy surrounding the Cleveland Indians' mascot?

  • ISIS activity in Mosul?


What are some best practices for addressing their concerns in all content areas?

This was the premise for our Tuesday, November 1st #ClasskickChat. Here's how the conversation started:

Classkick @Classkick Q1: Where do you get your news from?
Colin Shevlin @cwshevlin @Classkick A1: I get most of my news from NPR and Twitter.
Katie Powell @Beyond_the_Desk A1: Get my news on local tv network morning shows and social media. 
Tim Luo @timoman A1: Mostly news articles online, though admittedly I first hear a lot of news through Facebook.

As educators, it sounds like the majority of us are getting our daily or weekly news from social media and online sources. Do you think that our students are doing the same? 


How do we address our students regarding current events? 

Classkick @Classkick Q2: Do you share your opinions about the news?
Colin Shevlin @cwshevlin @Classkick A2: I used to remain neutral as best I could.
Tim Luo @timoman A2: Creating safe spaces for news discussions is essential

It seems we recognize that we have an exceptional amount of influence on students and the way they perceive the world. To that end, we strive to present both sides in an unbiased way, ensuring students are forming their own opinions and respectfully agreeing or disagreeing with one another. 


The conversation then shifted to the specific elements of current events being discussed in classrooms: 

Classkick @Classkick Q3: Do you highlight news-making teenagers?
Colin Shevlin @cwshevlin @Classkick A3: We talked a lot about students their age doing amazing things. 
Tim Luo @timoman @Classkick I worry that social media is a biased/extreme lens for students. 

While we want our students to have role models they can relate to, we are also concerned that "famous" teenagers may have become famous for less-than-ideal reasons. This is such a struggle for educators looking to highlight celebrities in current events!


If students are coming to us with questions about the world, how can we help them?

Here's what the Classkick community thought:

Classkick @Classkick Q4: How do you field tough questions about current events?
Thomas @tmnerd @Classkick A4: I feel questions should always be allowed to be asked. 
Colin Shevlin @cwshevlin @Classkick A4: Sandy Hook happened when I was teaching 4th grade. 
Tim Luo @timoman A4: Question for Teachers: Bringing news into lessons seems great to connect to relevant material.
Katie Powell @Beyond_the_Desk @timoman I've never seen news become a distraction exactly, but we do get lost in it when a big, relevant issue comes up.
Jessica Hunter @hyssop442 As a math teacher, we don't really engage in those tough discussions... unless we get off topic

When a news story is big enough to affect all of our students, such as a school shooting, it sounds like we take the time to ensure students get their concerns addressed. Besides those moments, we try to keep students on track with the content that we are teaching. 


When we do want to engage students in thinking about current events, how do we get them to reflect?

Here's what Classkick Teachers discussed: 

Classkick @Classkick Q5: Are students invited to write about the world around them?
Katie Powell @Beyond_the_Desk A5: They write about it often, but school-wide our audience is often just each other or teachers. 
Thomas @tmnerd @Classkick A5: Students should definitely be writing about the world around. 

Teachers agree that students should be writing in response to events that are occurring, although we struggle to find the time to help students discuss these issues with people outside of our schools.


The last question asked for a deeper dive into our classrooms and how we help students discuss current events with each other:

Classkick @Classkick Q6: Do students debate each other in class? 
Katie Powell @Beyond_the_Desk A6: Argumentative and persuasive writing are big standards for us, point of view too. 
Tim Luo @timoman A6: Do Teachers assign debate point-of-views or let Students choose?
Katie Powell @Beyond_the_Desk @timoman Depends on purpose or content. 
Thomas @tmnerd @Classkick They'll debate each other one way or the other. 
Colin Shevlin @cwshevlin @Classkick A6: I used debates all the time!

See you next month - Tuesday, December 6th - at 5pm Central. Join our Facebook community to continue the discussion beyond Twitter and to view monthly topics and discussion questions.