Skip to content

Teaching Toolkit: 9 resources for discussing the government shutdown

As a poly sci junkie, I’m torn.

The 2018 government shutdown is bad for just about everybody. And it seems like it happened over something that most Americans want to see happen – protection for Dreamers. A Fox News poll says 86% of us support DACA. A CBS poll reports 87% supporting the idea.

But the shutdown does create an opportunity to jump into all sorts of conversations involving civics and procedure and policy and elections and checks and balances and three branches and  media bias . . . well, you get the idea. If you haven’t already, this week might be a good time to jump ship on your scheduled curriculum and spend some time making connections to the government side of the social studies.

Need a few quick resources?

I’d love to add to the list. What tools are you using?

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Glenn is a curriculum and tech integration specialist, speaker, and blogger with a passion for technology and social studies. He delivers engaging professional learning across the country with a focus on consulting, presentations, and keynotes. Find out more about Glenn and how you might learn together by going to his Speaking and Consulting page.


4 Comments Post a comment
  1. JGCanada #

    Thanks, Glenn! If you tweet this, I’ll RT it from our @TeachKidsNews Twitter account. Help to spread the word on these great resources. -Joyce,

    January 22, 2018
  2. Phillip Sill #

    The Shut down has also provided my class an opportunity to see just how bias the major news media is when it comes to political issues. Their chapter on this stated the all the major networks are extremely bias against the current president and the Republicans in Congress. A few of the students more attuned to the current political fighting between the parties are finding more and more difficult to locate factual information on the various media outlets without some sort of bias. Do you have any suggestions for truly factual web sights that a HS student can access and have information explained at their level of maturity?

    January 24, 2018
    • glennw #


      Great question! I always start this sort of conversation with two non-negotiables:

      1. A free and independent press is absolutely essential in a representative democracy. It is the duty and responsible of the press to question those in government and to expect truthful answers. The current movie The Post and past movie All the President’s Men are perfect examples of why we need people digging into areas that might make politicians and civil servants uncomfortable. The Bill of Rights and the concept of Freedom of the Press are not to be trifled with – this message needs to be constantly communicated to our students.

      2. All evidence – primary and secondary – is biased. Every document, every photo, every newscast, every website, and every newspaper article is written by someone who has a particular bias. So your kids will never find a media outlet without some sort of bias.

      But we can’t throw out evidence just because it might not align with our own biases. Is the Wall Journal more right of center than the New York Times? Probably. Is Fox News more right of center than CBS? Probably. We want our kids to be able to recognize bias and to use multiple sources to help them understand both past and present, Our job is to help kids to not just understand that concept but more importantly to help them figure out not just what the bias is but also the amount of bias.

      Using the different historical thinking skills developed by the Stanford History Education Group can be useful when looking at current events. Sourcing, contextualizing, corroborating, and close reading are skills that our students need to be using everyday. (If you haven’t seen them, head over to The cool thing is that they just added a whole section of civic literacy activities that you can use to teach kids to read online evidence with a critical eye.

      The News Literacy Project also has some helpful civic literacy tools:

      They also have an online classroom:

      I’ve created a few other posts that have other resources that might be useful:

      I especially like this graphic to help kids start a conversation about what news media outlets to use and why:

      These three fact checking sites can also be very useful:

      You might also be able to use these handy sites that has examples of left/right news on the same topic:
      Blue Feed Red Feed

      Good luck! Thanks for the comment!


      January 25, 2018

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

<span>%d</span> bloggers like this: