Develop Better News Habits with Students

What’s your News Habit? Take the quiz here

FANschool is trying to reimagine the news delivery method for students.

When we ask them how they want to receive news, they yell out something like “Put it in Snapchat!” This is a real challenge for teachers.

There are lots of ways to help your students develop better current events-interaction habits. Find ways that work for you and let us do the rest! Any combination of these classroom practices will help boost your student’s awareness as they play:

HABIT 1: Meet Students Where They Are

Assume your students aren’t hanging out where you did. They’re not going to the news: You have to bring it to them. And handing it to them or telling them to go to a website isn’t going to work for long.

Many of them don’t touch a real newspaper on a daily basis and probably can’t find the right channel for a nightly news broadcast on TV. Your students hang out on platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Snapchat, which program them to take certain actions and make certain clicks, for better or worse.

Encourage students to like or follow news sources they want, where they are. This will bring news to them on a daily basis, helping students become more aware in their sweet spot for learning on social media. Students can even text with a bot to get news these days!

Do a little research using our geopolitics news list, our Twitter news list, or our Facebook feed of news pages we like. Then, ask students about their favorite sources and make a classroom list together. If you’re unsure whether or not a source is legit, research it together and discuss!

Ask questions like: “What’s the most interesting thing you saw on [insert news choice] this week?”

We’re working on a scoring metric for social media news as we speak!

HABIT 2: Improve your Classroom Routine

Students like to have fun at school, but they also appreciate routine and expectations. Lots of good teachers incorporate something like “Current Events Fridays,” for instance.

These programs are great, but after a while your students might find them mundane. Try mixing it up by getting the bigger picture via our interactive Trends Map to dive into what’s happening and why:

Check out these All-Star teacher routines for even more ideas about how to engage students quickly, efficiently, and formatively on a daily basis. We love @mrcaseyljhs’s “Daily Rumble,” which gets middle school students active in fun, current events challenges!

Get in the habit of asking questions like these with students too:
 Where is conflict (or collaboration) happening? 
 Is there an election or big event coming up? 
 Where will the President be and why?
How do you know that’s true?

HABIT 3: Watch Your Language!

Do you ever hear students groan when you mention phrases like “quiz,” “current events,” or “here’s your assignment”? Students might just be getting a little tired of day-in, day-out words like “homework”.

Try replacing those words with better descriptions for a few weeks…

Instead of “assignment,” try “White House Brief”. 
Instead of “homework,” try “challenge”.

And don’t shy away from using research terminology in normal conversations with students on a daily basis: The more we talk about and model “reliability,” “validity,” and “primary sources,” the better!

HABIT 4: Model your own News Habits

We’re finding that one of the best uses of is efficient current events knowledge for teachers too: It certainly worked for us!

Our favorite method to personally keep up is still the email newsletter, especially The New York Times’ “Morning Briefing” and The Council on Foreign Relations’ “The World this Week”.

You might also like: 
Quartz’s Daily Brief
The Daily Pnut
Fareed Zakaria’s Global Briefing
PRI’s The Scan
The Daily Skimm

Lately, I’ve been using Facebook’s “Save Link” for storing articles I want to come back to while I scan my highly-programmed News Feed there: It provides a nice morning or weekend reading list of scholarly stuff I care about!

When we first start playing FANgeopolitics, students come into class asking me if I’ve heard about the news in one of their countries: It always encourages me to step up my knowledge game too!

One of the most important things you can develop at school is daily learning habits: Keep students curious by meeting them where they are and inspire them to utilize existing resources in their sweet spot for learning to improve daily routines.

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