Current events are a great way to practice a variety of skills that our speech students need to work on! When kids read news articles, they can practice a variety of skills, such as sequencing, summarizing, main idea, inferencing, and more! Let’s take a look at some tips on how we can use current events in our speech instruction!
A fun way to practice sequencing with current events is to take a developing current event and use the articles to practice putting the events in order. To do this, be sure to remove the date from the article!
An example of using current events to practice sequencing is a significant weather event, like a hurricane or blizzard. Find articles that discuss the preparation for the event, the event itself, and the aftermath. Use sticky notes to demarcate “before”, “during” and “after” columns on the student’s desk. As you or the student reads the articles, they decide if the events in the article happened before, during, or after the main weather event. They can place the articles in the appropriate columns.
Another way to practice sequencing with current events is to write sentences from the article onto sentence strips, and then have the student place them in order after you have read the article. The student should be on the lookout for sequencing clue words like “before”, “after”, “next”, “first”, etc.
Another skill that you can practice in speech therapy using current events is summarizing. One fun way to begin summarizing a current event in speech therapy is to make a word web. This is a type of graphic organizer with a circle in the middle, and multiple lines coming out of the circle. The student will begin by writing the topic or the title of the article in the middle of the circle. As he or she reads, they will write down important words on each of the lines that are coming out of the middle of the circle.
For example, if they are reading an article about their local high school baseball team winning the state championship, they would write the name of the team in the middle circle. On the lines that are coming out of the circle, they might write things like the name of the opponent, the score of the game, the location of the game, and the names of some of the players. They would then use this information to write their summaries.
Another way to summarize a news article is to go with the five W's- who, what, when, where, and why. Using these five W's as a graphic organizer or as sentence starters, the students can really get a handle on what the summary of the article is.
Finding the Main Idea
Event articles are also a great way for students to practice finding the main idea of a passage. When reading a nonfiction article, students need to keep in mind that the main idea is usually who did what and why or how. For example, your students may be reading a current event article about an election for the position of Mayor in your town. The main idea of the article would be a sentence something like this: “ George Jones and Miss Smith are running for mayor because they both want to make our town a better place.”
You can use sentence stems or an anchor chart that asks these questions as students read through the current event article to find the main idea. Remind students that sometimes the title of the article can also give them a clue about what the main idea is. However, some titles are meant to be catchy to try to get people to buy the newspaper, so they will not always be able to rely on the title of a current event article to give them hints about what the main idea is.
Students can work on inferencing with current news articles in several different ways:
- Looking at the photographs that accompany the article to help infer what is going on in the article. Photographs can show things like facial expressions and surroundings that can help students infer what people are thinking or feeling and what situations they are in.
- Doing a sort of literal vs inferential information from the text. You can write information from the text onto notecards, and the students can sort them into “literal” and “inferential” columns.
- Doing a true and false sort. If you write some true inferences about the article and some false ones on notecards, the students can sort them into true and false columns after they have read the article.
If you need more great tips on how to practice inferencing with news articles, then check out my Inferring With Fake News activity!