France juggles migration hot potato

France juggles migration hot potato

One correspondent’s quest to procure French nationality and the maroon and gold passport that proclaims one a citizen of Europe. A French passport. (Getty Images Signature) It requires stamina and determination to become French. It took me three years to thread...

Tory chaos shakes UK unity and stirs mockery abroad

Tory chaos shakes UK unity and stirs mockery abroad

Britain’s Conservative Party won a landslide in 2019. Now the Tories and their elite are the butt of jokes overseas as polls point to possible humiliation. 10 Downing Street, the official residence and office of the British Prime Minister, in London, 20 October...

Politics can seem boring to some young people. But in Britain it is anything but. Correspondent Barry Moody takes us through the musical chairs of British prime ministers and shows how political divisions inside the British government over Brexit, taxes and the economy could lead to a breakup of the United Kingdom. 

Exercise: Create teams of five. Each team should choose one member to be prime minister. The other four students should each take on the roles of England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. They should each do some basic research on their region’s current relationship with the British government. The student who is the prime minister will research and consider the importance of having these countries united into one government. Together they will create a poster that explains the individual identities of the four countries and how they benefit or are disadvantaged by their subordination to a united government.

I wish I had thanked Mikhail Gorbachev for changing my life

I wish I had thanked Mikhail Gorbachev for changing my life

I was in Berlin in 1989 when the Wall came down. I wish I had thanked Mikhail Gorbachev for changing my life and letting me witness history. The author perched on a Berlin underground station entrance in the fall of 1989 (Photo courtesy of Elaine Monaghan) In June...

In 1989, Elaine Monaghan found herself in Germany. She would spend two decades covering international affairs for the Reuters news service, but the night she witnessed the fall of the Berlin Wall changed her life. Reflecting on that event, she marks the death of Mikhail Gorbachev, then leader of the Soviet Union, whose decisions contributed to the end of the Cold War and the disintegration of the USSR. Monaghan tells us that “even if you don’t always grasp everything that is happening around you, if you follow an unmarked, difficult path, opting not to resist the pull of history, walls can come tumbling down.” She offers youth an important reminder that, with strife all around us, they can still make a difference.

Exercise: The Berlin Wall was a concrete barrier that separated East and West Berlin, dividing two countries – the Federal Republic of Germany and the German Democratic Republic. Can your students think of a wall today, either physical or geographic, that acts as a political divide? What might bring that wall down?

Buried underpants and tea bags help scientists evaluate soil

Buried underpants and tea bags help scientists evaluate soil

Swiss citizens are burying cotton underpants and tea bags in their gardens and fields to help scientists assess the quality of soil in the Alpine nation. (Photo courtesy of Beweisstück Unterhose) This story won first prize in News Decoder’s 12th Storytelling...

Student reporter Luis Eberl of Realgymnasium Rämibühl in Zurich, Switzerland, interviewed scientist Marcel van der Heijden of the University of Zurich about an experiment to find ways to slow down or prevent soil deterioration caused by erosion, construction, pesticides and drought. The project invites citizens to test their own soil by planting tea bags and cotton underpants – two common household items – and then testing the level of deterioration. Eberl shows how scientists are engaging everyday people in climate change projects to demonstrate that individuals’ small actions can lead to global solutions.

Exercise: Interviewing an expert for a story is a great way to get information to readers that might not be reported elsewhere. Have students think of an issue that would be important to report and see if they can identify an expert who might be good to interview for a story on that issue.

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