I like to teach my students to be aware of the events surrounding them in the world. To do this, I teach them how to summarize current events.
To start, I provide my students with a new Time for Kids magazine. I pick an article ahead of time that is a current event and that students can understand well. Then, together in class, we read through the article and discuss it.
That is also when I pull out this current events organizer and model for students how to complete it.
I love this organizer because it allows students to practice writing a summary, noting their source, and to practice writing their opinion or viewpoint of the piece. (Plus, it’s simple.) Students have to write complete sentences, and they have to provide details. (They cannot just write that they agree with the article. They need to tell me why!)
After I model this a few times (we do the current events activity once a week), I then have the students try it out – with an article online. We venture down to the computer lab, and they print out an article they found on Scholastic News or some other fun site. They read it and together we work through the graphic organizer. Finally, after the first month or so of writing current events each week, the students are completely ready to write on their own. I have students find an article on their own, whether they choose one from our weekly TFK, online, or from a local newspaper. Then, they staple the article to the organizer and turn it in each Friday for a social studies (or writing) grade.
This activity allows not only for the skills mentioned above but also gets your students reading more nonfiction. You can download the current events graphic organizer here for free!