Tuesday, March 24, 2009

World News(papers and otherwise)

When I was a freshman in high school, my social studies teacher insisted that we read the editorial section of the newspaper on Sunday and bring it in every Monday. In small groups, we'd talk about the issues featured in the section, and then we'd come together as a class for a formal discussion (and you'd better be ready to cite your source!). It was a great way to begin each week, and reminded us of the connections between local, national, and global spheres.

Local newspapers still offer us that weekly "roundup" opportunity. And there are more possibilities than ever to read and discuss global news connections in the classroom.

The New York Times is available online, as most know. But now you can also read the global edition of the Times, published in collaboration with International Herald-Tribune. And did you know that allAfrica.com posts news stories published in African newspapers? The BBC World News is another great source for international updates and stories. If you're interested in seeing what's making the front page in cities around the world, take a look at the Newseum site (click on a world region to choose a city and view).

Take advantage of the global news online. Choose a news event with global connections, divide the class into groups, and ask each to read about it in a different online news source. Come together as a class and discuss the different perspectives you find in the reporting. A good way to begin the discussion is to read aloud the first sentence or paragraph (the lead, or lede) of each source. That will reveal what each source identifies as the most important point of the story.

Are they all the same? Probably not! Perspective shapes our perceptions. The view from Chennai is not the same as the view from Charlotte. But both views are worth exploring and discussing, because learning experiences that widen our perspectives deepen our understanding of the world.

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