Lesson Plan

Current Events with Elementary Students

Using these resources students will be able to explore current events and engage in news articles collaboratively.
Marcello S.
Classroom teacher
Rocketship Mateo Sheedy Elementary School
San Jose, CA
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My Grades 3
My Subjects English Language Arts
EdTech Mentor

Students will be able to....

-Define "news", "online newspaper", and "current event"
-Read and summarize a news article
-Edit and respond to another student's work

English Language Arts
reading comprehension
Social Studies
civic engagement
Grades 3 - 5
All Notes
Teacher Notes
Student Notes

1 Hook & Intro to New Material

I would preview the website before the lesson and find an article that you and your students would be particularly passionate about. (When you click on search you can choose to search articles by your grade level) 

In class you would:

-Introduce or review what "news", "current events", and an "online newspaper" is.
-The importance of news and why people use it (to gain intelligence, learn about things that interest them, learn about others, or have things to talk to other people about)
-Introduce a new story you are interested in or thought students would be interested in
-Walk through creating your own summary of the news story (you can use one of the activities under resources below or follow this simple format). The summary you create should be made in front of students on a Google Drive Document so they see how to use it, you can either write free form or create a template depending on your class:

-Key Names (people, places, scientific words, proper nouns)
-Key Details (a couple words to a sentence on key ideas from article)
-Main Idea of News Article
-Summarize the news in:
One Sentence
One Paragraph
Five Paragraphs (for upper grades)

Some Resources:

Common Sense explains the news: https://www.commonsensemedia.org/blog/explaining-the-news-to-our-kids

Overview of news and activities:

Old School videos on the news but can give you ideas on how to explain it and some ideas for other activities (like having kids write their own news stories)

Student Instructions

Go to newsela.com and answer the following questions:

1. What is this website about?
2. What could you learn about on this website?
3. What would people use this website for?

Look through some of the articles and find one that interests you.


2 Student Practice

Google Drive
Free, Paid

You have walked through one example news story and showed students how to organize a summary of the article. You are now going to let kids choose their own article (depending on your class you can give a quick mini lesson on how to choose an article i.e. what things are you interested in, what do you want to learn about, what have you heard about lately, etc.)

First walk students through how to use the search bar and how to choose a grade level that is appropriate for them (some students may choose a lower or higher grade than the one they are in)

Students will either open a new Google Doc or use a template that you share with them. Depending on students you can also have them create Google Slides (for students that need differentiation).

Depending on what activity you chose students create their own document from a news story (whether that be a summary or other outcome you chose)

Student Instructions

You are now going to get a chance to learn more about something you love! Think of what you may have heard about lately that you want to learn more about or something that is interesting to you (dinosaurs, the ocean, forests, soccer, etc.)

Now click on "Search Newsela" at the top of the page.

On the right of the box click the grade level you read at, or if you don't know what grade level you read at, just choose the grade you are in.

Now type in something you are interested in and search for it.

Once you find an article that you are interested in, open a new Google Doc.

Write down 4 things in your Google Doc:

-Key Names (people, places, scientific words, proper nouns)
-Key Details (a couple words to a sentence on key ideas from article)
-Main Idea of News Article
-Summarize the news in:
One Sentence (write one sentence to tell the reader what your article is about)
One Paragraph (write one paragraph that tells the reader what your article is about)
Five Paragraphs (if you can, write five paragraphs about your news article)

Someone should be able to read your one sentence, paragraph, or five paragraphs and know what your news article was about and important facts from the news article.


3 Editing and Closing

Google Drive
Free, Paid

After students are done with their summary have them share it through Google Drive (if you have e-mails for each student, or just trade computers if you don't). 

After trading students proofread each other's articles to ensure that:

The paper doesn't have grammatical errors
They understand what the news article was about

If they still have questions or don't understand a part of the summary you have two options:

A. have them talk one on one with the other student and find answers to their questions, adding the answers into the summary.

B. Have them write down questions and send them back to the writer, then have the writer look up answers and improve their summary.

After students are done bring the class back together and discuss learnings from the activity. Review what the news is and why it is important. Stress the fact that news pushes discussion between friends and gives them things to talk about and connect over (just like in the editing process).

Student Instructions

Now send your news summary to a friend or family member (or just hand them the computer to read over your work), ask them to do two things:

1. Look for spelling and grammar errors.

2. Write down questions they have while they are reading or things that they don't understand.

Once they are done take their questions and find answers to them in the news article, add these new facts into your summary.

You have now written a summary of a news article! Find another article to write a summary about or try writing your own news story about your life.