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Yesterday I received my tentative teaching assignments for next school year (in addition to my duties in the LMC). I am now scheduled to instruct a mixed class of high school students in current events. I don't have any details yet, but the high school principal said this scheduling is a direct result of my advocating for more (any!) 21st century fluency skills in our district. My hope is the students and I will explore - and master - things like podcasts, blogging, etc. The first hurdle will be to secure student e-mail accounts, at least for those enrolled in my class. If this is can not be supported by our district technology, I'll funnel everything through a class account.
I visualize this course as a combination of a traditional current events class (emerging issues, world economy, geography, politics, etc.) and library skills instruction (plagiarism & copyright, fact vs. opinion, media "genres", effective research). Setting the kids up on Google Reader, would be one of my first steps. Blogs, a wiki, podcasts, video clips, might follow. A Zoho notebook publication would be the perfect culminating project. Or, perhaps, a videotaped news show.
If we are successful, I anticipate having my students function as instructors for other students - and teachers.
Has anyone done something along these lines? I found hundreds of lesson plans in a quick search but I'd like to hear about professional successes and failures from real people, my online colleagues.

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Comment by Judi Moreillon on June 11, 2007 at 1:22am
Wow, Diane. This is a great beginning.

Your course crosssed my mind last week when I saw a TV news report on youth involved in action related to Darfur. Here's a link to a Washington Post article about the same students:

Then I thought of a WebQuest I recently created for studying 20th- and 21st-century genocides:

You might consider creating a WebQuest to help students pinpoint some current events about which they are passionate. You could integrate some resource evaluation skills learning/review in the WebQuest to get students thinking about the bias they will find as they study current events.

See, you got me thinking, too. It's contagious!

It's lovely that you have the summer to think and plan!
Comment by Diane Cordell on June 7, 2007 at 8:31am
I've started a Google Document
to save and organize resources for the class.
You're all welcome to take a look and copy any items you might find useful.
Comment by Diane Cordell on June 6, 2007 at 6:21am
Thanks for the feedback, Judi!
I've started two blogs, one to serve as an online professional journal (, and one to use in the current events course ( They're both pretty basic right now, particularly the second one, but please feel free to visit and leave a comment or suggestion.
Comment by Judi Moreillon on June 5, 2007 at 11:28pm
This sounds like a teacher-librarian dream come true, Diane.

Asking students to analyze, synthesize and evaluate current events presents the opportunity for them to apply critical literacy to their reading. (For me, that means to uncover bias and how power relationships are at work, to reach informed opinions, and hopefully, to become empowered to take action.)

I suspect that the laboratory of this course will influence the work you do during your "LMC hours." I trust you will share your learning with all of us.
Comment by Diane Cordell on June 5, 2007 at 8:17pm
Doug: is blocked by our firewall. I can get it unblocked for the class, but first I need to convince Administration that the students should be given e-mail accounts. We'll have to take this one small step at a time!

Carolyn: The class will be an elective. You are right, of course, about the need to define goals and formulate an essential and subsidiary questions before diving into web 2.0 tools - which should support the learning, not drive the lessons!
Comment by Carolyn Foote on June 4, 2007 at 11:29pm
Does this class fall under the social studies department or is it an elective?

One thing I think might end up being difficult is having students use web 2.0 tools with no clear content to produce things about.

I think it's more effective when you start with the content and use the tools that best convey the content, rather than starting with the tools themselves, unless the students do have a specific goal like becoming teacher mentors or something?

I think it'd be great to define some sort of theme or essential questions to rotate the whole course around. That would give it a center, and then the projects and research could spring from that?
Comment by Doug Johnson on June 4, 2007 at 8:55am
Hi Diane,

We've been using to provide students access. Free.

Looks like a good chance to try out lots of new technologies like Joyce suggests. Creating feeds and a accounts for specific areas of current events sounds very doable.

Good luck!

Comment by Diane Cordell on June 3, 2007 at 11:14am
Joyce, Thanks for the suggestions. I'm excited about trying something new and think the kids will really buy into it. We just need to get the technology in place to support our projects.
Comment by Joyce Valenza on June 3, 2007 at 9:40am
Wow, Diane. This sounds like a cool opportunity. You could have the kids create wiki pathfinders for the other classes, perhaps for world news by region--include RSS feeds, specific print and broadcast news sources. I am planning to redo my international news pathfinder this summer. (

These guys could also maintain semester long blogs about the news themes they find most compelling. We have a very active (during the semesters) Global Studies blog.

If you do the news shows, please post and share!

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