Show Your Students a World of Possibilities
Type of technology: Website CNN Student News
SAMR Model Rating: Augmentation
Grade level: 7-12
Subject area: Social Science
Cost: Nada! Free!!!
Have you ever wanted more from your students and the curriculum? Have you felt the burden of teaching an event with little to no connection with your students? Have you ever asked your students to point out a country on a map only to be met with blank expressions of dumbfoundedness? Teaching them about current news and people around the world doing miraculous things can help bring your content to life and change the way students think about news. The best way I’ve found to do that is by watching CNN Student News.
I love watching CNN Student News because it allows students to know more about the world around them. With the help of the online sensation (seriously, this guy is like a cult hero to those of us who are CNN News-ies) Carl Azuz, students are engaged with the world outside of your classroom. When trying to ask yourself how you as a teacher can best get students to be motivated and to have buy-in…look no further than my boy Carl and those who help produce this daily show.
You know you will get great material to work with as CNN has done what they can to ensure that the content is not only engaging, but also relevant to the students. On the website they even promote that, ““CNN Student News is created by a team of journalists who consider the Common Core State Standards, national standards in different subject areas, and state standards when producing the show.”
In the old days before podcasts and live streaming, us teachers had to bring in “current news” by showing students the “daily articles” from a newspaper which was printed at least 12 hours ago, and a story which was written long before that! Our definition of “current events” were those events which occurred only 48 hours prior. Yuck, no wonder our students hated to cut up the newspaper (putting themselves at risk from the dreaded papercut), write up a summary, and stand in front of the class (all alone and scared out of their minds as they tried to present obscure countries and people who might as well have come from Mars) to share “their” story. Carl, and his merry band of co-workers, now can bring real, ACTUAL, current events right into your classrooms.
Part of Student News’s beauty is in the rich and diverse content that it provides the class. They cover topics within America, abroad, culturally relevant stories, exposes, human interest pieces, and many more. They are not afraid to tackle difficult situations such as the recent terror attacks in Europe, though they also bring a lighter story at the end so students can get a little relief and not feel so depressed–as one might when watching the “regular” news these days.
There are also fun and low risk informal assessments that some shows do where they have students shout out the multiple choice answer. If a student gets it wrong…who cares! They will learn about the topic in the next segment and forever get it right from now on!
I also love the fact that students get to learn about geography. To me, that is one area we usually fail as an educational system. Our kids learn about
Renaissance Era painters but cannot point out where Columbia is on a map. This show is a way where you can incorporate the stories you hear and use it as teachable moments to have them go up and point out on a map (or look up on their phones) where the country is located. Double win! Students get to move around, and you get to sneakily teach them geography!
Students can also use this as a fun opportunity to get a shout-out from Carl and his crew. Your class (or your school) can get mentioned on the video stream when you submit your school name, mascot, city, and state in the comment section on the bottom of the transcript and roll call page. In order to have it be valid, it must be requested from a teacher or a student aged 13 or older.
Have trouble with students who miss class? No fear! Student news has an archive section right below their daily broadcast. I use this function for students who want to watch it at home on days when they miss. All they need to do is: Scroll down to the Archive section→ Click on the episode you want (or if it is really old) click on the arrow–> know the date they need and click on the appropriate date. Done!
As an added benefit, there are transcripts of the show for students who have auditory processing issues or if there is something a teacher wants to have students examine in more depth.
I love to use this show as a way to get the students critically thinking at the beginning of class, though I have colleagues who use it as a way to end a class–whether planned or in the event you finish your teaching a few minutes early. One way a few of us have handled this is by giving them some sort of a handout where they need to summarize a story and then have them explain how that story might affect them. Here is one example that we have used:
Once my students have written down their work for the day I have them in groups of four and they must share with each other one thing that they learned. If a student has already said something a fellow classmate was going to say, just have them add on to it. Or
maybe you tell them that they can then either agree or disagree with the position the first student took and make an argument on their behalf. My twist on it is that I make each student speaking have to stand up and the other three students (we are clustered in groups of four…obviously) must practice good active listening strategies. When their time is up the next person stands up and gets a chance to be in charge of their mini group. I’ve found that this gets all of my students speaking within the first few minutes of class and it also allows for some movement so they are not sitting in the desk all period.
Whether or not you choose to use this resource as a formative or summative assessment (create a weekly quiz on three of the top stories or something like that), your students will thank you, and more importantly…Carl will thank you.