As citizens in a democracy, students need to be able to analyze news articles and commentaries on current events in their world. True analysis of the news requires understanding the larger social justice concerns embedded within news stories. It is also important for students to consider who presented the news and any bias and agenda that entity might have. Students should also consider their own biases and agenda in interpreting the news. This strategy guides students to analyze the news, to look at it with a critical pedagogical lens, and to develop a plan to address the situations presented in the news.
Engage students in a discussion about the purpose of news stories by asking questions such as, "Why is it important to stay current on the news in our world?"
Ask students to bring a current events news article and/or commentaries to class each week. Guide students in selecting articles that feature an issue about which they are passionate.
Using a carefully chosen article of your own, model for students how to analyze using the SOAPSTone process. To learn about the SOAPStone process, consult the Tools for Textual Analysis: TP-CASTT and SOAPStone strategy in the BetterLesson Lab.
After using SOAPSTone to write a summary and analysis of the news article or commentary, guide students in completing a From News to Action graphic organizer (included in the resource section below) to support them to move from analyzing the news to developing a response or action.
After writing their initial thoughts on the graphic organizer, have students meet with a partner to discuss the situation in their article and their response to it or action related to it.
Have partners give each other feedback and provide additional thinking. After meeting with a partner, each student should uses questions to merge their ideas with their partners such as:
My partner thought _____.
After talking with my partner, my thinking was (confirmed/adapted/changed) because _____.
After meeting with a partner, have each student present their article or commentary to the class along with their plan to take action.
Follow up with students, and support them to take action. Consider involving members of your community to support students to take the action that they identified.
Follow steps 1-2 above.
Using a carefully chosen article of your own, model for students how to analyze using a modified version of SOAPSTone called the SOAPS process:
S = Subject: What is the subject of the piece?
O = Occasion: What are the time, place, and setting of the piece?
A = Audience: Who is their primary audience?
P = Purpose: What is the reason the news article or commentary was written?
S = Speaker: Who is the voice telling the story?
After using SOAPS to write a summary and analysis of the news article or commentary, guide students in completing a graphic organizer like the one in the resource section below, moving from merely analyzing the news to planning a response/action.
Follow all remaining steps above, providing concrete examples of possible responses to the articles and/or actions that students can take.
The SOAPStone process will lend itself to discussions which seek to develop a “critical consciousness,” which is one of the main elements of the Hip Hop Ed movement within CRTL. Students need to be armed with ways to raise critical questions of text when they encounter it everyday online and in print.
This strategy requires English Learners to communicate using language intermixed and supported by collaborative discussions. Students can be grouped with students who might best mentor and support the discussion of these topics. The SOAPStone process offers a structure for a consistent routine of thought.
What have I, as the teacher, done to establish a safe and trusting classroom environment before beginning the discussions about news articles/current events, which can be controversial?
What values and characteristics do I, as a teacher, think are critical about my class community?
How will I assign partners and make sure that partner groups are effective?
How will I make sure the discussions following each student presentation are helpful and positive?
How will I address the situation if students select a news article that is not appropriate for the school environment? How will I proactively plan to prevent this from happening?
It is a great idea to invite a news reporter in to speak with the class about their work and how they work to maintain a non-biased perspective.
Arrange a Zoom or Skype discussion with a local news reporter to share with the class how their work requires a biased-free perspective.
While partner groups are discussing and collaborating, be sure to rotate between groups keeping all groups on-task and positive.