How can we explore current events with the youngest learners?
Current events are often children's first glimpses into politics, civics, and other cultures. Using current events in the classroom with young children can be an empowering way for students to understand and begin to engage with the world around them. But current events can also be scary, unpredictable, and developmentally inappropriate for young children. Here, students explore the BP oil spill by drawing pictures and talking about their feelings. Think about your own students -- what issues are important to them? How might you introduce news and current events into the classroom based on developmental appropriateness and student interests?
1. Start with Experience. What news and current events issues are you and your students paying attention to these days? Discuss which news and current event might be most relevant and important to children right now.
Responding to Current Events News: Why is it important for young children to learn about and discuss their emotional responses to news and current events?
2. Explore Examples to Consider Adaptation to Learners and Contexts. View and discuss Interpreting Oil Spill Images, where we see group of young children who analyze the oil spill and design simple messages responding to a public event. A group of young children explored the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill in the Gulf of Mexico (sometimes called the BP Oil Spill) that occurred in the Spring 0f 2010. It was the largest marine oil spill in history. After learning about the news event, students decided to create PSA posters to share their feelings. Watch the short video Analyzing Oil Cleanup PSA to see how the teacher structures this experience. Then view Oil Spill Posters to see the final products they created. Take a look at some of the Student Work Samples, too.
3. Compose, Create and Take Action. Identify an important social issue or a recent news event that is relevant to children. Learn about the issue and then share information about the issue with children. FInd out what they know about the topic. Then select a meaningful example of news to share. Ask: How does this news story make you feel? Try using a structured approach, like "This news events made me feel X because Y" as a way to deepen children's ability to describe their emotional responses.
GUIDING QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION:
How do you feel about the way that these students have been asked to engage in a controversial current event that they brought spontaneously into the classroom?
How does this instructor structure a space for young students to think about and talk about current events?
What could you do differently, given your own values and students?