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Too often, our students are disconnected from the world events around them. Social media of all kinds permeates their lives, but is often limited to communication between friends and advertisements. Social media has certainly opened up the possibilities for us all to connect with the world, and yet many people remain in their own little bubble. In or outside of a social studies classroom, have your students become more aware as citizens. Doing a unit or a weekly bell ringer on current events for students will allow them to be more aware of the world and let them take ownership of their relationship to different events.

Teaching Current Events in the Classroom

What would you like your students to focus on? Local news? National news? World news? Does anything in the news count as a current event? What about students choosing the same event?

Teachers should choose the type of current event and what the main purpose of the assignment is. The activity could be a simple summary of a current event, or it could be expanded into a presentation to other students, or be used as a start to class discussion or debate. Depending on the learning and performance objectives, teachers may wish to have students present to the class or even teach or lead a discussion as the "event expert".

There are certainly many ways to incorporate a current event storyboard into your classroom. You do not need to be a social studies teacher to incorporate current events into your curriculum; any teacher can do it. There are all sorts of happenings in the world that relate to various subjects, and can engage students in discussion about current classroom topics. Current events can be the inspiration for project based learning, particularly if there is a real-world problem you want students to address.


Potential Questions for Discussion or to Guide an Assignment

  1. What caused this event? Or more likely, what are some of the contributing factors to this event?
  2. What are the consequences of this event? Destroyed property? Death? Political machinations? New medical discovery?
  3. How does this affect us, directly or indirectly? What do the consequences of this event mean to other people?
  4. Who is involved in this event?
  5. What are your reactions to this event? Is there something that should happen next? Is there something we can do (move into persuasive writing or PSAs)
  6. Does the event refer to a larger social/political/environmental issue?

Ideas for Current Event Activities

Report Current Events for Teens

A class could tweet or post on another social media network storyboards that explain, summarize, or represent a current event or issue. It would be up to the teacher to decide if student opinions would be represented as well. It would be a good opportunity to have students look critically at world happenings or controversial issues, but likely any controversial issue storyboards should remain private and shared within the class.


5 Ws

The 5 Ws (Who, What, Where, When, and Why) allow students to delve into an event and think about it from different angles. Have students come up with 5 W questions for a current event on their own. Students may have the same current event, and then ask different questions that could be shared in a discussion.


Plan an Editorial Piece

After discussing a current event or issue (or after assigning a reading), have students plan out an editorial or persuasive essay on a storyboard. Use the plans to guide a debate/discussion or continue on to a piece of writing to accompany the storyboard. Another option is to create a public service announcement.


Literary Connection

Some events in the news relate very well to literature, and may help students understand one or both better. Have students create a storyboard that depicts how the event relates to a piece of literature. It would be up to the teacher to include only literature read in the class/grade, or to include all books, poems, short stories, plays, etc.


Personal Connection

Students will likely become more avid news readers once they see how current events relate to them. Have students depict a personal connection with a current event, even an oblique connection, and then have volunteers share with the class.


Create a Timeline

For events that have a sequence of events, have students create a timeline or narrative story of the action. Looking at discrete stages may help students better comprehend the event.


Create an Infographic

Have students pull information together from a news article or from other sources, and create an infographic that relates to the current event. The infographic might show demographics or statistics that bolster understanding of various elements of the current event, such as causes, effects, political positions, future options, etc. For help getting started, check out our infographic template gallery.


Compare Current Event with a Past Event

Look to see how much has changed.... or how much as stayed the same. One important reason we study history is to learn from the past. Have students compare something that is happening in the world today with a related past event. Perhaps connect a recent protest to one during the 1960s Civil Rights Movement.


T-Chart Comparison

The T-Chart is extremely versatile and very useful. There are many things you can have your students put side by side. Have students create a T-Chart storyboard that looks at any of the following comparisons for a current event.


  • Pros and Cons
  • Cause and Effect
  • Fact or Opinion
  • Opposing Viewpoints
  • Before and After


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Benefits of Storyboards for Current Events

  • Hone presentation skills
  • Engage in discussions on contemporary issues
  • Create infographics/storyboards/presentations to inform other students (teaching is one of the best forms of learning!)
  • Synthesize information by reading and responding with words and pictures
  • Be exposed to events of the world, good or ill
  • Real-world application of various reading comprehension and debate/persuasion skills
  • Develop analytical skills - don't just report the events, think about what they mean
  • Practice internet research skills
  • Form opinions on controversial issues after hearing both sides
  • Learn more about what to do about social justice issues, such as creating PSAs or getting socially involved

Layout/Format Ideas

Current event storyboards can be made using any of the layouts and with any number of cells. A single cell in the 16x9 layout is sufficient for a brief overview, but if the event is complex, multiple cells in a different configuration may be more appropriate. Take a look at my suggestions below!


Layout Image Current Event Activities
Traditional Storyboard
Storyboard Mall: Traditionell Storyboard Layout
  • Narrative of the event
  • Slides for a PPT presentation
  • Background information on a large issue
16x9 Layout
16x9 storyboard mall för film, filmer och reklamfilmer
  • Play-by-play of the event
  • Comic adaptation
  • Large single cell for general overview
Spider Map
Spider Map - spindel diagram - mind map mall
  • Causes or contributing factors of an event
  • Consequences
  • People involved in an event
Timeline
Tidslinje Layout - Tidslinje tillverkare grafisk arrangör
  • Timeline of the event itself
  • Timeline showing leading causes of the event
  • Timeline showing consequences
Grid
Grid Layout - jämföra och kontrast grafisk arrangör
  • Concept explanations
  • Background of persons involved
  • Comparison of two (or more) sides of an issue
T-Chart
T-Chart Layout -Compare och kontrast - orsak och verkan grafisk arrangör
  • Before and after
  • Comparisons
  • Pros and Cons
Frayer Model
Frayer Model mall - Classic Graphic Organizer storyboard
  • New vocabulary or terminology
  • Same uses as the spider map, but limited to exactly four
  • Biography of a single person or group involved


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