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In the News

  • In the News

Our blog series on the Bridge program at Bow Valley College continues this week. Don Morris, a faculty member at the Centre for Excellence in Immigrant and Intercultural Advancement, refelcts on addressing gaps in learners' content knowledge of current events. 

In my previous blog I wrote about using timelines to fill in gaps in learners' knowledge of history. In this blog, I'd like to share one way of addressing possible gaps in our learners' content knowledge of current events.

In a low-literacy class like the one I teach, using authentic news articles, whether they are from print or online sources, is not practical. The linguistic complexity and various conventions used by journalists are a challenge for even the highest literacy classes. This is not necessarily a problem, because increasing reading skills is not the outcome that I am working towards.

Why?

As mentioned, the main reason for the activity, which I call In the News, is to fill in the learners gaps when it comes to current events. I think it is important for our learners to develop an awareness of what is happening locally, nationally, and internationally. With this increased awareness, my hope is that they will be able to participate in conversations at their workplace, or with friends and family.

How?

We usually do In the News at the beginning of the week.

  • We start off by having a class discussion about what has been happening in the past week.
  • After the discussion, the learners are shown a PowerPoint that has 3 or 4 slides, one slide per news story. On the PowerPoint there will be some images, some key vocabulary, and possibly a headline.
  • By looking at the images and discussing the vocabulary, we try as a class to figure out if it is a local, national, or international story, and what it might be about. For example, we recently did a news story on the Winter Olympics. On the PowerPoint was a map of Russia, the Sochi logo, and the dates February 7 – February 23, 2014.  
  • After the learners share their ideas, I point out what was correct or incorrect in their prediction.  
  • After our discussions, I will assign a short writing task where they summarize one of the stories in a few sentences. 

For more information on this activity and to see an example PowerPoint and related worksheets, visit In the News in the Network's Showcase. 

My learners enjoy this weekly activity. One learner recently commented that it has helped her socially at her workplace because she is able to partake in casual conversations about news events and doesn't feel left out, as she did before.

Do you have any other activities that help learners increase their knowledge of current events?