With the upsetting and horrifying news coming from Palestine and Israel recently, we chose Global Awareness as the theme of our second unit at Coastside Leadership Academy. Our goal is for our students to understand how to find accurate information, think critically about their findings, and then communicate their findings effectively. The learning target for this unit is to gain understanding of other nations, diverse cultures, religions, and lifestyles. While we have a general outline of where we would like this unit to go, we co-create curriculum with our students, so when students are curious we follow their lead. For this unit, our students are looking at global issues through the lens of a journalist. Journalists play an important role in society and journalism skills are life skills.
To start, I taught a lesson on journalism basics. We defined a journalist’s process for reporting the news, as finding a topic, researching, analyzing, and then reporting. Our students will be following this process throughout the unit. We also read an article from News Decoder, an educational news service for students, about how journalists look at global issues objectively and try to give their audience context about a situation. The article sparked our students’ curiosity and then the co-creating process started to blossom.
“Where does censorship play into all of this?” asked a student.
Her question gave us a thread to follow for our next lesson.
I created an activity for our students to learn about freedom of the press and censorship in the US and abroad. We took this opportunity to discuss the 1st Amendment in the US Constitution and how it protects speech and the press. Once we understood the US government’s relationship to the media and censorship, we were able to take a broader, global perspective. Each student chose a different county and we learned more about freedom of speech laws in Germany, Russia, Ukraine, China, and Israel. Our students discovered that each country’s government has a different relationship to the media and that government censorship can take different forms, particularly during times of war. The lesson was timely with the current geopolitical climate and our students are now aware that some government information in the news may not be the full story.
In just a few days, we built the foundation for how to understand global issues from a journalist’s perspective and now our students are narrowing down topics to research and report on. Some of the topics of interest are prison and judicial systems abroad, how world religions have led to territorial disputes and war, and gay rights in other countries. They have pitched their research project ideas to the group, and we have given feedback. The next step will be supporting our student journalists as they go through the researching, analyzing, and reporting process.
This unit is a great example of how we integrate all of the traditional high school subjects throughout our units at CLA while co-creating the curriculum. We will be covering English while writing and researching like a journalist, learning history to help with context to global issues, and using statistics to analyze data, in addition to other skills and lessons that organically pop up along the way. Our students are invested in learning global awareness because their inquisitiveness directed the progression of the lessons. I am excited to see how the process continues to expand our student’s perspectives as they become informed global citizens.