Image: Various news headlines

Image courtesy NOAA

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One of the best "textbooks" for making geography relevant to everyday life is the daily newspaper.  The fundamental themes and concepts of geography are more easily understood when viewed in the context of daily events. And stories making headlines take on new meaning when viewed through the lens of geography.

Getting Started

Divide the class into groups of 3-4 students each. Assign each group a world region and have the students read several major daily newspapers (either print copy or online) looking for current events occurring in the assigned region. Have each student keep a journal of the news stories read.

Once a week, have each group identify one important story they have read. Provide each group with an index card and ask them to record the following information:

i.       Location

ii.      Brief summary of the event

iii.     Geographic themes identified in the story

Post a large world map on a bulletin board. Have each group locate their news story using a push pin and attach their index card along the margin of the map.

Have each group lead a class discussion of why the story they have chosen is important; how it affects the people where it happened; and how it could affect people in the U.S.

Modeling the Activity

Toxic Spill in Hungary Contaminates Danube River

Location: Eastern Europe–Hungary

Summary: On October 4, 2010, a dam holding toxic heavy metals collapsed near the town of Ajka, Hungary, releasing a flood of red toxic waste water across nearby towns and fields. Just three days later the toxic water reached a branch of the Danube River.

Geographic themes: physical and human characteristics of place; human-environment interaction; movement

Extending the Activity

Assign one student in each group to research in other newspapers the story the group has selected and follow it to learn what happens over time. Additional index cards can be used to record important developments. As more stories are identified, a news web will emerge as each student follows a different current event.

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