The events at the border are alarming and confusing right now. Learning to Give is dedicated to helping young people learn their role in civil society. An important role is staying informed and taking action when we see injustice.
Discussions about Current Events: What Can Young People Do?
Every day there are opportunities to discuss our role in civil society and decide whether and how to get involved in current events. At Learning to Give, we want to help students learn and practice taking action for the common good—yes, this too is philanthropy. This page provides tools and tips related to current events. Look here to involve your students' voice and action to make a difference.
From holidays to elections to triumphs to tragedies, there is always something going on that can spark conversations about what we can do as informed, responsible and generous students.
Find tips and resources about addressing challenging issues in the classroom. Follow these guidelines to establish a safe environment, promote respectful dialogue, back up arguments with facts, and talk about news and current events with students: Difficult Conversations
Help your students evaluate the roles of media, bias, “facts”, and critical thinking related to current events and controversial topics: Media Literacy Tips
Today's Current Event: Sifting Through Facts in Political News
Whether we are talking about gun safety, zero-tolerance immigration, or character investigations, we all need to sift through multiple news and social media stories with conflicting information and opinions to get to the real information. Our students, in order to be well-equipped citizens, need to develop a radar for the sensational and learn skills of how to make accurate judgments and form their views based on facts.
Distinguishing Fact and Opinion in the News
Opinion: When you read something that seems misleading or uses exaggerated words, like always, never, and greatest, this is probably an opinion and should not be believed or shared as facts. Words like should and statements that blame a whole group indicate opinion. According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary, an opinion is defined as a view, judgment, or appraisal formed in the mind and then shared about a particular matter.
Fact: If a statement is a fact, it can be verified by research. If you wonder if a statement of fact is true, look it up. Have some trustworthy sources on your desktop so you can quickly get to the primary source. According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary, a fact is defined as something that has actual existence or a piece of information presented as having objective reality.
“Distinguishing Between Factual and Opinion Statements in the News” Pew Research Center, June 18, 2018. This article finds U.S. adults cannot distinguish fact statements from opinion statements, and often tend to believe fact statements (whether they are true or not) if they support pre-existing beliefs.
How can we get better at distinguishing fact from opinion, and avoid emotional reactions to inflammatory news?
Each organization below is linked to information meant to get to the facts related to the Zero Tolerance Immigration Policy.
- Homeland Security: Going right to the source of who is taking action helps identify fact from fiction.
- Politifact: This site checks facts published in the news that are verifiable, significant, and shared heavily. This site checks the information that might make people say, “Is that true?”
- Associate Press Fact Check: Associate Press is a cooperative of news agencies and stories. Journalists may go here to make sure they are publishing the facts established by the cooperative from all political backgrounds.
- Snopes.com Snopes is a source of fact checking on stories that are widely spread and questioned by readers. Snopes engages in research that gets to the origin of any story brought into question.
What can you do with your students to help them sift through facts and learn how to take action to make a difference?
Use Learning to Give lessons along with the service-learning process to uncover the facts related to gun safety, zero-tolerance immigration, or character investigations.
- Follow the steps outlined in the Stages of Service-Learning to make successful plans with your students: Watch Video
- Refugees Forced to Flee and Find a New Home: Lesson Plan
- Making Our Voices Heard: Lesson Plan
- Citizen Participation: Lesson Plan
- Resolving Conflict with Respect: Lesson Plan
- Characteristics of Advocates: Handout
- Survey about Advocacy Style: Handout
- Talk to your child about families being separated at the U.S. border: Girl Scouts article
- Bring community awareness to your students' work by using this step-by-step media and timeline guide.
What can young people do right now?
- Host a World Café Conversation (“engaging people in conversations that matter”) for your school/community. Here are some free World Café resources.
- Be an advocate for your POV: Share carefully researched facts and possible solutions with your network and local government.
- Use and teach listening skills to find common ground as you have difficult conversations about issues with strong differences of opinion. We are more alike than different.