Current Events to Capitalize On this School Season

We’re here to help students know where to watch and what’s happening.

And our mission is to help teachers make existing content more relevant with current events.

Anyone who plays fanschool.org/geopolitics knows about the U.S. “pivot to Asia” (China is a recommended #1 draft pick), so this post will NOT include that region (even though you should know about China’s “One Belt, One Road” initiative and the Trump administration’s new Indo-Pacific economic strategy). It will also not include “The Political Gamble of the 21st Century” on the Korean Peninsula as it will focus on current events to incorporate in class beyond the Top 10 scorers in FANgeopolitics and FANpolitics at fanschool.org/politics.

Here are the best current events to capitalize on this school season, with simple tips for incorporation into your curriculum from All-Star Teachers:

1) U.S. Midterm Elections

Even though we created a special “Challenge” game for the 2016 Presidential Election, our existing FANpolitics game provides the best framework for learning about the upcoming Midterm Elections.

FANpolitics gets players drafting, owning, and managing U.S. states. It not only scores state news mentions in the New York Times, but also Twitter trends (mentions of states on Twitter, coming from a long list of legitimate news accounts). This enables players to see which states are trending before and during the elections!

The 2018 midterms feature hundreds of congressional, state and local primaries, and will culminate with the November 6 general election to decide whether Democrats can gain control of Congress or if Republicans will keep their hold on the legislative branch.

Here’s the best election calendar we’re aware of to help you stay on top of your game as players follow and interact with state trends!

Additional questions to discuss with class in the lead-up to general elections on November 6th:

  • What role will teachers play, especially in states like #Arizona and #Oklahoma where school walkouts happened?
  • How can these elections teach us about gerrymandering, especially via a Supreme Court case from #Wisconsin?
  • Which states make for the best draft picks, now and into November?

ALL-STAR TEACHER TIP: Divide classes up into teams and draft states (there are only 50 states) to follow trends outside of class and dive into election-related current events in class that are most fitting with your curriculum. Click the “Resources” link anywhere on the website to access tips for FANpolitics to really help students get in the midterm elections game!

2) Venezuela, Nicaragua, and U.S. migration

This is the context of the U.S. migrant debate…

Latin America is experiencing a “displacement crisis” caused by historic levels of organized crime and violence:

“At least 17 of the top 20 most homicidal countries in the world are in Latin America and the Caribbean.”

As a result, Venezuelans led U.S. asylum applications last year — nearly all of them in Miami — even as President Trump tightens asylum rules and tries to block Central American migrants at the Mexican border.

An economic crisis in the South American country has sent inflation soaring toward 1 million percent, making food and medicine scarce. The conditions are compelling some Venezuelans to take desperate action.

What’s happening in Latin American countries like Venezuela and Nicaragua (the “next Venezuela”) is creating thousands of new refugees.

It’s pretty complicated.

And we should all get more curious about those complexities, partly because learning more makes it harder to jump to ignorant conclusions.

But does anyone care?

China seems to…

Shouldn’t we be doing more?

Maybe, especially when considering geography and American history, but U.S. — Latin America relations probably won’t be improving anytime soon…

Is the era of the United States as the dominant influence in Latin America over?

Are there ways to solve the root causes of the Latin America “displacement crisis”?

ALL-STAR TEACHER TIP: At the very least, mention these current events while studying U.S. history. China’s space station in Argentina would provide a nice hook for your “Monroe Doctrine” lesson plan, for instance. And the above questions about whether or not Americans should care (and do) more today could provide relevant discussion topics for the U.S.’ “Big Brother” policy, President Taft’s “Dollar Diplomacy,” President Roosevelt’s “Good Neighbor” policy, and/or any Cold War topic. Get students writing a White House Brief about Venezuela or Nicaragua to summarize for the President what’s happening and potential solutions, especially when thinking about U.S. migration. Work in how to write thesis statements, topic sentences, and supporting paragraph tips.

3) Afghanistan and America’s Longest War

We find ourselves constantly reminding students that the War in Afghanistan is the longest-lasting foreign war, especially as Afghanistan jumped in and out of the Top 5 in FANgeopolitics on different occasions last school year.

The Taliban insurgency remains resilient seventeen years after U.S.-led forces toppled its regime in response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

And now the Trump Administration is pursuing a radical policy shift there, seeking to engage in direct talks with the Taliban.

If you don’t think Afghanistan relates to the United States beyond terrorism, though, you should also do some academic research around the geopolitics of opioids like heroin:

Here are a few good, go-to links to help us all get educated about America’s longest war, in a shorter amount of time:

ALL-STAR TEACHER TIP: Please ensure that Afghanistan is part of your Cold War lesson plans! And (please, please, please) start teaching about the historical context of more recent wars in U.S. History class (our good high school history teachers only ever made it to the Vietnam War while we were in high school in the early 2000s). If you prefer watching things while self-educating first, look no further than PBS Frontline’s exhaustive Bush’s War + Obama’s War (+ throw in Charlie Wilson’s War if you feel the need to fuse entertainment and enlightenment more).

Study strong. Draft smart.

Game on!

Founded by teachers and technologists, we turn students into FANs of learning with fantasy sports-like games for school content + current events.