By Gina Kennedy

By Gina Kennedy

Current Events in the Classroom

       I have the glowing memories of sitting in Mrs. Busch's 4th grade classroom in Dana, Iowa in 1972.   I portrayed George McGovern and my opponent, Kary Hoskinson stood in for Richard Nixon for our 1972 classroom presidential debate. In the end, I'm sure that we were both convinced we were the winners  However, the memories of preparing for the debate, putting up signs in the hallway, "Don' Be Stubborn, Vote For McGovern" still linger in my mind as if it were yesterday.  
     Of course in 4th grade you are simply a mimic of your parent's political viewpoints; but either way we were involved and it was the foundation of my strong interest in politics today. Yes, I'm a news junkie and proud of it.  
     How can we make sure that students are informed about what’s going on around the world? That they are armed with the tools to be able to distinguish between opinion and fact; between evidence-based statements and empty rhetoric; between sensationalism and solid journalism? Just like most other things in life, the best way to do all that is through practice.

Why Should Teachers Cover Current Events in the Classroom:
  • To provide support and resources for students who are directly or indirectly impacted by such events.
  • To help ease some of the confusion, anger, and pain that would be felt by many students.
  • To foster a safe environment that supports equity and diversity in education.
  • To give silenced students (whether by circumstance or choice) an opportunity to express how they feel.
  • To connect the real world to school and community.
      On Fridays in my classroom we participated in "Current Event Friday".  Every Friday, the students were responsible for sharing one current event story with the class.  It made Fridays very popular and if I said we didn't have time or we had to cancel for any reason; I felt a "mob" reaction of disappointment.  Bottom line:  kids love current events and talking about what is going on in the world.  For some, a few news stories may be uncomfortable (know your audience); but for others it is a stepping stone to a future of being an involved citizen.  
This is the template I used with my students:

2016 Presidential Debates
It's going to be an interesting year in politics in the United States, why not get your students involved in the excitement?  There will be several debates taking place over the next year and it would be beneficial for your students to take part in an important piece of history. Sometimes it takes something as small as this to create a future president. 

I've included this "Presidential Debate Student Response Sheet" if you'd like to involve your students in the debates this year:
Click Here to Download the Free Presidential Debate Student Response Sheet!