Just in time for back-to-school: New distance learning resources are available on Wide Open School.
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.Continue reading Show less
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.
Key Standards Supported
Reading History/Social Studies
Distinguish among fact, opinion, and reasoned judgment in a text.
Assess the extent to which the reasoning and evidence in a text support the author’s claims.
Evaluate an author’s premises, claims, and evidence by corroborating or challenging them with other information.
Speaking & Listening
Review the key ideas expressed and demonstrate understanding of multiple perspectives through reflection and paraphrasing.
Acknowledge new information expressed by others and, when warranted, modify their own views.
Acknowledge new information expressed by others, and, when warranted, qualify or justify their own views in light of the evidence presented.
Respond thoughtfully to diverse perspectives, summarize points of agreement and disagreement, and, when warranted, qualify or justify their own views and understanding and make new connections in light of the evidence and reasoning presented.
Respond thoughtfully to diverse perspectives; synthesize comments, claims, and evidence made on all sides of an issue; resolve contradictions when possible; and determine what additional information or research is required to deepen the investigation or complete the task.