Current Affairs … Thoughts and Ideas Cynthia Tulissi
Current Affairs should be 10 to 15 percent of the program. It should no longer be taught in isolation. When the curriculum changed, current affairs was moved to the front matter, which means it should be embedded in what we do all of the time. Being part of the front matter makes it really important. 10%- 15%
We need to ask skills based questions. • What has this person done for active citizenship? • What is the impact on community?
Popular practice has been: For people to not have current affairs as part of their program. To have students get up in front of the class once a week and summarize an article that they found at home. (Was this really about building Social Studies skills or reading comprehension / presentation skills?) For teachers to use current affairs assignments as part of students’ marks. Often only addressed in Div I classes.
We are being encouraged to consider that effective practice: Has students at all grade levels thinking critically and creatively about current affairs. Is no longer about a mark, but rather offers students a chance to use critical thinking and inquiry skills.
Current Affairs ... • Moving From…… • Taught in isolation “Friday is Current Affairs day” • Focus on Comprehension / Summarizing a news article • Students are responsible for finding news articles • Boring??? • Predictable • To...… • Integrated throughout the year • Focus on skill building / thinking about citizenship • Big ideas are targeted • Cross-curricular connections • Doesn’t have to be long – could be just a couple of minutes a day every few days
Whenever possible, use current affairs to help students understand / learn about / discuss the concepts of citizenship and identity.
Resources • LesPlan – be cautious, they are not current and not newspaper ready. They have been re-written. A lot of point of view and bias has been removed. They do help to support less experienced readers. • Broadsheets such as the Calgary Herald are targeted at a grade 6 reading level. The Sun is targeted at Grade 4/5, but not always directly sourced. Have Grade 6 students read current events from broadsheet newspapers and talk about them.
The LesPlan resources may be helpful in providing students with something that is at an easier reading level. A caution: Some of the worksheets do not promote deep, meaningful learning.
When planning activities we need to carefully reflect on the goal and which subject we will be targeting. Social Studies? Language Arts?
Scaffold the Experience… • Consider giving your students the articles or topics… many families don’t get the newspaper anymore.
Place Puppets Place puppets could be used to help students discuss / understand the impact of various current affairs on the world, Canada, Alberta, etc.
Consider having a puppet with a picture of the class on it. This would be used to get students to see the impact of the issue on them and their school / community.
Spinners with big picture questions could be used to discuss current affairs.
For younger children Just use images… and ask good questions. What’s the impact on community? How might this issue affect quality of life? How does the land impact our lifestyle?
Nancy Lee Cecil Big picture questions are “... not congruent with “know-the-answer-beforehand” questions; you have to ask questions for which there are no right answers.”
Assessment??? • Given the strong emphasis that the PAT Exam Manager places on using current affairs to foster critical thinking / inquiry skills, I would be inclined to not use current affairs activities for assessment.