Current Events has always been a topic teachers, especially social studies teachers, want our students to be up to date on and have depth of knowledge. The injection of current events can be done very well or very poorly. I have seen and done both. When Current Events are introduced because they are topical, relevant to students lives and interests they become powerful experiences. When they are another thing students have to do as homework they tend to loose meaning. The magical moments for current events is when students enter your classroom and want to talk about something they saw on the news, okay let's be realistic, they saw it on Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat, etc. and they want to know more. They have opened the door to making connections to their lives. GRAB this moment, don't pass it up because you have to cover content. TAKE this time to engage students, and make connections. ALLOW them to discuss, ask questions, and answer many of the questions before you take over or steer the conversation.
This Week's Topic is on Current Events. I have pulled a few examples of events happening that I think are interesting to me and want to see others ideas and most importantly how you could connect these to lessons or activities in your own classroom.
I realize each of these topics could be the focus of a week's discussion. If there is interest in discussing these more, please express that to me and we will continue the conversation. In the wake of the recent events, I felt compelled to bring these topics forward and welcome discussion. I know we won't all agree on how to present these topics, or have the same ideologies on the topics, but I think they are necessary conversations. I do not want to inject my own bias into these conversations, but honestly I know that will be difficult because I am looking at a nation that is fractured and we need to have heavy conversations to move toward unity.
Q1 Whose Lives Matter
Question - How can we broach this subject in our classrooms in a way that leads to civil conversation and results in positive change? My fear is it degrades into a shouting match, or we sing kumbaya and in the end nothing changes. I don't expect the world to change after our conversation, but that our students move forward as change agents. They are impacted in a positive manner to at least step up and begin difficult dialogues and confront ideologies that are in opposition to their values.
Q2 Immigration and Border Security -
Question - How do you open the debate between national security and non-discrimination, prejudice and intolerance? How do we provide opportunities for real discussion about immigration that goes beyond political sound bytes? How can we provide information to help students learn about the issues without the Fear Rhetoric? How can we discuss immigration and break down stereotypes? How can we bring in outside ideas and opinions?
Q3 Presidential Elections - Campaign Finance - our 2 Party System -
Question - How do we teach students about a democratic society where everyone has a voice and power when history and reality don't fully live up to these ideals? Is our system broken or was it created to provide power and influence for some while disenfranchising others? How do we get students involved in the process and show them they do have value, voice and the potential to make change?
Q4 Violence, Terrorism, and War -
Question - In this time of the 24 hour news cycle, how do we help students be informed citizens? How can we help them examine the information and investigate further? How can we create a population that doesn't believe the 30 second sound-bytes and begins to ask their own questions or seek out other sources of information before believing what someone else tells them or the read or view on social media? How can we limit bias in the media and politics, especially when it is harmful?
Question- How do we teach students about Plagiarism? How could we use examples like what happened during Melania Trump's speech last night to help students understand what is Plagiarism and why they should care? What lessons can we all learn from the example of the speech?
Q6 PokemonGo - Chuck Taft - Bretzman Group
Unless you have been in total media silence over the past few weeks, you obviously know about the latest phenomenon in mobile technology – Pokémon Go. It’s been on headline news, in entertainment, on traffic warning signs, and everywhere in between (including tech ed newsletters). People young and old are flooding locations to capture elusive Pikachus and train their monsters to power up and battle others ion locations in their community. While the debate about the app will continue, there is no question that it has become one of the most engaging technology platforms of recent memory. How popular is the game? In a very short time, it has become the biggest mobile game in history, with well over 20 million users.
Is there a way for educators to integrate the game into their classroom or utilize aspects of Pokémon Go to engage and challenge their students in critical thinking and collaboration? Let’s find out as we try to catch ‘em all!
If you’re unfamiliar with the game, Pokémon Go is based on the very popular Japanese media franchise that centers on fictional monsters called Pokémon, which humans try to capture, train, and battle against others. The franchise appears as comic books, video games, and a very popular trading card game. The Pokémon Go app combines the game with augmented reality and GPS technology, as players search for Pokémon in the real world and try to catch them in their mobile device through the camera function. Players then try to train their Pokémon and increase their power in order to battle against other Pokémon in locations across the nation and world. How popular is the game? In a very short time, it has become the biggest mobile game in history, with well over 20 million users. The official Pokémon Go website provides an excellent overview, and iMore provides a great guide to the game.
Educators have been chatting about the game since its release in early July. Where can this game fit into the curriculum? While Pokémon Go probably wont replace an entire unit of study or single lesson, there are some possible uses in and out of the classroom. The game utilizes a great deal of data, and students can develop data literacy skills as they collect, analyze and present statistics through different methods. The mapping and GPS technology offer a way for integrate geography skills as students walk around community areas and follow instructions using the compass, making decisions about location and routing. Students can construct a narrative or story about their Pokémon Go adventures, developing their storytelling skills. The app can also set the stage for discussion about digital citizenship, collaboration, and healthy competition. More ideas for classroom integration have been shared online lately. Teaching Ideas offers multiple ways to use Pokémon Go in the classroom, Kae Novak from ISTE compiled a variety of ideas about education and the game, and Education World comments on how the game is perfect for summer learning.
There are additional inherent aspects of the game that we can apply to our classrooms. The gamification concept of Pokémon Go is very engaging for participants, and students could be challenged to “collect” curriculum items such as vocabulary words, elements, or historical figures. They could rise in rank and gain additional powers and items. We all know that the thrill of the chase is a powerful motivator in and out of school. Movement is key to the game, so teachers can have their students go on quests (digital or not) to change the dynamic of a lesson or class. The use of augmented reality and GPS in Pokémon Go can be transferred to the classroom through other apps, including Aurasma, Chromville, and StarWalk.
Will Pokémon Go still be a craze when school starts up in the fall? Certainly, and Erin Oh from Common Sense offers some ideas for managing the use of the app in class. We can channel the positive components of the game to increase the critical and creative thinking of our students in an engaging manner. Let us know how you use the app (and other mobile games) in your classroom!
Question - Why is Pokemon Go such a phenomenon? What makes it so addictive to people? How can you utilize Pokemon Go or the elements of GPS, virtual field trips into your classroom? What can you use to create these experiences for your students?