Responding to News Stories

By Monica Burns 11.24.2014 blog

When we look for ways to incorporate higher order thinking skills into the social studies classroom, it’s important to include time for student discussion and writing. Giving students opportunities to talk and write about what they have learned will help them make meaning of a topic or issue. A great way to get students interested in current events is providing time to have teens respond to news stories. Whether they have read an article or watched a video, students can gather information knowing that they will be required to respond through discussions or a writing assignment.  Not only does this give students a purpose for viewing and reading content, it will also strengthen their speaking and listening skills as they prepare to write about what they have learned.

Learn About News

Start off by giving students multiple ways to interact with news stories. They can watch a news broadcast, read a transcript or article, or listen to a radio program. You may want to let students choose one of these options for interacting with content or ask them to gather information from more than one place. After students have initially interacted with a news story, provide a guiding question that can function as a discussion prompt or writing prompt. Ask students to rewatch or reread a video or article with this question in mind. Make sure they understand the expectations for how they will be required to respond to a news story.

Talk About News

Students of all ages can benefit from discussion content with their peers. You may have them complete a quick think-pair-share activity with a partner or form small groups to discuss the guiding question related to a particular news story. Another option is to have all of your students come together for a whole class discussion. You can introduce hand signals or best practices for participation while students hear the perspective and responses of all members of their class.

Write About News

Throughout the school day, we are asking students to write about what they have learned. In math class teens might explain the process they took to solve a problem, and in science, students can write about the steps for an experiment. Writing in social studies classrooms often falls into the category of essays and research reports. Provide opportunities for students to respond to news stories as a way to incorporate opinion or argumentative writing in your curriculum. Ask students to write a response to a news story.  This might be a summary of what they have read or a stance that they have taken on a particular news issue. No matter what type of prompt you give to students, make sure that they are expected to use specific evidence from the text in their answer. This is an important skill that can be incorporated into any writing activity that students are doing in your class.

Providing a purpose for reading and viewing can help students engage with content. Ask teens to respond to news stories through discussion and writing in your classroom!

Monica Burns is an Education Consultant, EdTech Blogger, and Apple Distinguished Educator. Visit her site for more ideas on how to become a tech-savvy teacher.


  1. Dominique Cavin

    I think the students should not have to take the test to pass the next grade.
    some students may not know anything about the test and they might tell them to take it but they might not know anything about it

  2. shelby mASSEY


  3. Haley

    The riots in furgeson are not necessary because Michael brown robbed a store and attacked the cop. The bad pictures of the cop make him look bad when the officer was only defending himself.

  4. gewenboutwell

    I think that the football team the Redskins should not change their name. If the indians made the name it is a good name.

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