How to use Current Events to Get Students Writing

The first time I assigned homework that involved writing about current events, I used all the usual school terms — “Your assignment is to write a thesis statement with supporting evidence about what’s happening in your countries. This homework is due Friday.”

When I redesigned and reframed this same writing assignment to correspond with the countries students drafted in fanschool.org/geopolitics, I got much better results — I gave students a mission to brief the President about what was happening in their countries, called it a “White House Brief” instead of “homework,” and gave them a simple rubric to get points added to their teams rather than their grades.

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This is how I learned to think about any writing assignment — start with purpose and help students form skills along the way!

We love Kidblog to facilitate regular writing as it enables you to easily monitor all activity and publish posts in a more formative and authentic way.

Here are a few more methods to turn students into fans of writing about current events from other all-star teachers…

Students in @JohnHonish’s middle school classes and @wpmsad’s high school classes post analysis of their game play, including who’s winning, what’s trending, and WHY:

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This gets students thinking about how to learn faster and compete better in fun ways.

One of the most beneficial aspects they write about is their draft strategy, which is a formative process to get students thinking more deeply about why they drafted the countries or states they did and what the impact of those events might be.

Students give themselves a grade for their draft strategy and write about what they got right or how they can improve their game scores!

Students at @ElRanchoHS write a short, daily journal-like entry about what’s happening in their countries:

The purpose of this activity is simply to get students in the habit of reading news and writing briefs about it on a daily basis.

One example from a student named Gisele:

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These short posts help students synthesize learning and can be utilized over time to help them improve their writing, especially when it comes to working on the sentence structure of topic and concluding statements.

Use a student newscast or a current events meme to get students writing more about them:

Have students plan out and write a script for executing a newscast like this:

Or have students use a blog post to describe and explain memes they create about current events, like this:

Get students responding to a deeper Election Challenge question (i.e. “Is the Electoral College fair?”) through a blog post.

In our Election Challenge, students dive into data and predict outcomes of the Electoral College, as well as interpret the influence of 3rd parties, campaign finance, and which elections (national, state, or local) matter more.

After submitting their maps, students write a description of the methods they used to analyze data like current polling numbers, primary results, and voter turnout to conclude whether or not the Electoral College is the best system for democratic elections.

Your students might argue that we need the Electoral College or why it should be abolished.

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

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