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Pros: The wide range of voices from passionate global youth is outstanding, and hearing the news of the world from peers will keep students engaged.
Cons: U.S. students can't contribute content to the site.
Bottom Line: Offers a rich variety of news and opinion stories on global issues, and its young writers will get U.S. students hooked on civic engagement.
YourCommonwealth would be an excellent supplement to classroom learning, especially for middle and high school students. With its focus on global current events and social issues, the site is a great resource for students to find out what kids like them consider important and reflect deeply on their own thoughts about the world's big ideas. Exercises and debates can be created around the opinions expressed on YourCommonwealth through text and video.
YourCommonwealth is an international site created by young people for young people who are interested in addressing global concerns such as injustice, poverty, and the environment. On the site, students from the 54 countries of The Commonwealth of Nations submit articles and videos to share their stories, experiences, and opinions. U.S. students can read about global social issues from a personal point of view –- and from someone around their age. Kids will have the opportunity to make up their own minds about pressing topics and, through discussion with parents and peers, learn how to express opinions.
It's organized by continent: Click on Africa and you'll get all the content relating to that area of the world. Young people from all over the world contribute articles and video to the site, which are then posted in a news-like format. By reading articles, kids can view opinions and timely issues from their global peers. Offsite, kids can get involved in Twitter chats and Facebook discussions on “the present, past and future of the planet.”
Unfortunately, the site isn't updated as often as it could be, which means the news isn't necessarily current. The writing quality varies from article to article, but the passion usually shines through. The site would be more engaging with some interactive activities for visitors –- quizzes, message boards, etc. And it's a bummer that kids from the U.S. can't submit their own work.
However, it still can be a valuable classroom tool. Students can respond to the editorial pieces of their choice or write an article about an important U.S.-related issue in the style of a YourCommonwealth contribution. It's eye-opening to view the photographs on the site; many Commonwealth countries are underrepresented in U.S. news, and this site definitely shares those voices. In addition, the site's articles create many jumping-off points for classroom discussion. From climate change to unemployment, the site addresses tons of issues that should fit into any civics classroom.