Lots of news stories around here, lately! Whether you have subscribed to EL MUNDO EN TUS MANOS, plan to subscribe next year, or are using the free articles about the Ecuador earthquake, Gianina’s fundraiser “Art for Ecuador”, or the tragic death of Dayko, you are probably wondering what to do with all of these current events that are coming your way. Here are a few ideas:
Let the students read them, no strings attached. Providing content and time for students to read without having to complete any activities is important. We don’t want students to equate reading with work.
Read and discuss them as a class. If possible, project the stories to make it easy for students to follow along. Employ all of those lovely TCI skills such as circling new, important structures, checking for comprehension, popping up grammar, and–most important–personalizing the content. There are lots of tricks out there to read the text together in different ways (Carol Gaab has a great workshop about this!), but you don’t have to do anything fancy. Some quick ideas are a choral read-aloud in Spanish, splitting the class into four teams and having teams take turns reading sentences aloud, and having students NOT read a specific, high frequency word each time they come to it (maybe substituting a sound in its place).
Have students read them individually and complete an individual activity. But before you do, ask yourself why you want them to complete the activity. Is it to force them to interact with the text a second time for more comprehensible input? Is it to show you how well they understood the text? Is it to practice critical thinking skills? Once you have determined your purpose, you can choose the activity that you want to assign. Here are some ideas that work well with any news article (all of them could be done in English or in the target language, depending on whether your goal is to assess their reading comprehension or to interact further with the text):
- Shrinking summary: Students summarize the article then summarize their summary. (*printable activity sheet in Independent Textivities Packet)
- What’s it all about?: Students state the main idea then state an opinion they have about it or a reaction they have to it. (*printable activity sheet in Independent Textivities Packet)
- Let’s chat: Students write  personalized discussion questions about the article (either Author & Me or On My Own QAR Types–it helps if you have trained students in QAR so they know what you are looking for!) (*printable activity sheet in Independent Textivities Packet)
- Story Elements glove: Students identify the story elements of the news article (*printable activity sheet in Independent Textivities Packet)
- Draw 1-2-3: Students draw 1 illustration, add 2 speech bubbles, and write a 3 sentence summary (*printable activity sheet in MORE Independent Textivities packet)
- Jeopardy: Students write 3-5 Answer/Question multiple choice questions about the story (*printable activity sheet in MORE Independent Textivities packet)
- Four Square Story Map: Students write something positive, something negative, something important, and a question about the story.
- Emotional connection: Students identify the emotion that best describes the story
Have students read them individually or in small groups and complete a cooperative learning activity. This can be done after an individual activity, but it doesn’t have to be. I have written about lots of different cooperative learning activities (click here to read the archives), but oh.my.word Jillane Baros just wrote the most comprehensive post on Kagan cooperative learning activities + TCI EVER. It’s awesome. Just take her seriously when she says to get your CI skills down before working on your Kagan skills. You’ve got to know what good CI is and how to provide it so that you can discern and practice how Kagan strategies can complement CI, not turn the class into an output free-for-all. Some quick Kagan ideas that come to mind are Fan N Pick (using questions that they wrote or that you wrote about the text), Simultaneous Presentations using any number of Kagan strategies, like Inside/Outside Circle, One Stay/Two Stray, or Stand Up/Hand Up/Pair Up (sharing one of the worksheets that they did earlier), or Quiz-Quiz-Trade after students have each written one question about the text.
What other things can teachers do regularly with news stories? Share ideas in comments!