6 Ways to bring current events in the classroom
Each Friday, Flocabulary brings you the top news stories from the past seven days with the Week in Rap (6-12) and The Week in Rap Junior(3-5). Use these ideas to make current events a centerpiece of your classroom.
Make text connections
Week in Rap videos are a great way for students to make text connections. With standards requirements for students to connect one text to another text, a text to themselves, and a text they’ve read to the world, Flocabulary can help those connections.
Week in Rap videos are a great way to connect what’s happening with the world to other areas of study. Week in Rap features the biggest events which become part of our history making it a great way to bring text connections to history. With news about scientific advancements, Week in Rap can also make a great connection to what students are learning in science, connecting it to articles they’ve read or concepts they’ve studied.
How stories are chosen
Use the Week in Rap to focus on why the specific headlines were selected for the song, discover the criteria used, and then have students in the position of picking the headlines around criteria they develop themselves.
Students can discuss the stories covered in the Week in Rap and devise their own criteria to use in deciding on stories to highlight for the week. After, they will practice applying the criteria they used to evaluate each story. Students can apply the criteria they develop to a week’s worth of news and come up with their own collection of headlines they would submit for a Week in Rap.
Analyze a news story
News stories are written in a very clear way. Why are they so easy to read? Students will find out. Students will analyze the structure of a news story and practice finding the main idea while they’re at it.
In this activity students can practice identifying the main idea of a news story, determining the order of information, and should explain why they think a news story is written in the order it is.
Students can watch the most recent Week in Rap and choose a story of interest to research. They can read an article on the story they’ve found through once and discuss the main idea. As a class, they can work through the story to determine key details.
Assign Week in Rap as a research assignment
Facilitate a discussion and short research assignment that focus on the role that visual elements, graphics, and headlines play in communicating information and opinion in the news.
Students will identify the media elements that comprise a news story and analyze the purpose behind the particular visual and graphical elements used to communicate the main idea in the story. Provide students with an opportunity to compare and contrast how different news outlets use and juxtapose images and stories.
Start by showing students a Week in Rap video. Use the Lyric Notes to find an image related to a story in the video. Analyze the image and help students discuss why the picture was chosen for the story, if the image tells them something the words can’t, and what pictures they would have chosen for the story instead.
Debate the News
Capitalize on controversy. Debating a Week in Rap news story can help students clarify their understanding of a topic, develop opinions, and understand other views of current events. Debates can range from formal argumentation to a more casual discussion. And in all cases, they encourage interactions and socialization in the classroom.
Select a Week in Rap video with a topic you can use to focus the debate. Create a statement related to that topic that is written in the affirmative. For example, “LOL” should be added to the Oxford English Dictionary. Divide the class into two or more groups and assign each group a side of the debate. One will argue for the statement and one will argue against it. Students won’t need to personally agree with the statement in order to argue for it in a debate. Have student groups research the topic and develop a plan with key points that align with their side’s perspective. Students should also think about what the other side may say and come up with points to address when that happens.
Once they’ve finished researching students can have a debate. One student from each side will present their points and each side will have time to rebut (or argue against) the other side’s arguments before the class declares a winner.
Talk about how current events become history
Examine the key question of what is history with Week in Rap videos. Students use Flocabulary’s Week in Rap, Year in Rap, 18 Years in Rap, and a history unit on the French Revolution to understand what history is.
Start this activity by giving students a few minutes to free write responses to explain what is history, what are current events and what are the similarities and differences between both.
Next, show students the following four videos:
- The most recent Week in Rap
- The most recent Year in Rap
- The most recent 18 Years in Rap
- The French Revolution
After watching students will likely say that The Week in Rap is current events and that the French Revolution is history, but what about the other two videos? To add additional room for thought, play The Year in Rap from 2009 and ask if there is a difference between the history and current events status of 2009 and today?
After the discussion have students write longer responses on the definitions of history and current events. They can touch on the following questions:
- What are current events?
- What is history?
- What is the relationship between the two?
- When do current events become history?
- What sort of current events become part of the history books? Which don’t? Why do you think that is?
- What were the biggest events from this year? Do you think they’ll be considered important in 20 years?
- How is your current life a part of history?
Enter the Week in Rap Shout-Out Contest
Ever wonder how schools are chosen for shout-outs at the start of The Week in Rap? Each week, there’s a contest your students can enter. Week ion Rap shout-out contests ask students to reflect on the news with writing, math, and art. Make a contest entry a regular assignment or ongoing extra credit and maybe you’ll earn your school a shout-out too.