BtN Story Follow-up Ideas

Using Behind the News In the Classroom
Many teachers pre-record the program to view it at a convenient time. This also enables
teachers to pause for clarification and discussion where necessary.
Website Monitors
Assign students the responsibility of accessing the website each Tuesday morning and
giving a short oral report to the class about the weekly updated features for others to
explore, e.g. the quiz, online poll, etc. Students could also be responsible for printing
transcripts, teaching ideas and student work sheets.
Before Viewing
 Subscribe to the weekly Behind the News email and check the rundown for that
 Discuss what students know about the news and ask them to predict what is likely
to be in the program that week.
 Print the weekly Teaching Ideas and Student Worksheets. You have permission to
adapt any student worksheets for educational use.
During Viewing
 Allow students to make comments during the program but remind them not to
disturb others. Quiz questions and surveys are included in the television program to
engage student interest and participation.
 Feedback indicates that students also get more out of the program when they watch
it without being forced to take notes.
After Viewing
 Behind the News is a valuable tool to get students listening and talking about news
and current affairs. Focus questions are published in the Teachers’ section each
week to get you started but remember some of the most useful ideas come from
your students.
 After the program students can go to the BTN website and complete the weekly
online quiz, publish their opinions in the Guest book, vote in the online poll, visit
other related websites for extra information, print the transcripts or view the stories
via streaming video.
 The activity ideas in this document are designed to engage your students
immediately after the program. Additional teaching ideas and student work sheets,
which relate specifically to the content in the television stories, are published weekly
in the teachers’ section. They are designed to encourage students to think in
different ways and develop deeper understandings about news and current affairs
issues that influence their daily lives.
Strategies for using BTN more effectively
Plan longer lessons: time to view, discuss & choose what kids want to explore more
Avoid note taking & encourage students to WATCH, LISTEN & DISCUSS
Personalise the experiences
Use partners and small group work to promote interaction
Adopt an integrated approach; incorporating BTN across learning areas
Appoint a monitor to pre-record the television program, print the rundown,
transcripts and student activities in the teachers section of the website
Encourage students to take an active role in negotiating what they want learn more
Encourage knowledge sharing: online poll: conduct a class debate – register the
majority vote
Students voice their own opinions and survey and analyse diff viewpoints
Use devices as tools of the trade for knowledge sharing, rather than banning them:
Weblogs, mobile phones and email
Utilise team teaching & clusters for info & resource sharing, collaboration, surveys
Link up younger & older students; fundraising, research surveys etc
Encourage students to develop their different intelligences as they learn more about
news and current affairs
Use different types of questions to encourage better thinking skills
Provide opportunities for listening, speaking & considering diff opinions.
Homework tasks can include:
 Guestbook entries & email
 Predict, vote and compare final results in weekly poll
 Search past stories and explore related links to help students recall, comprehend,
apply, analyse, synthesise and evaluate
 Pose and answer questions
 Download images & instructions for building models, creating presentations
 Participate in the quiz – compare scores & ask them to report back
 Compare television news stories with newspaper and Internet articles
Use BTN to teach your kids to be:
Critical and Creative
Sceptical of easy solutions
Curious about new ways of doing things
Analytical – draw comparisons and relate it to their personal experience
Active – apply what they see, hear and read.
Some teachers encourage students to keep a Behind the News journal to
 Personal viewpoints (newspaper clippings, editorials, letters, talk-back radio,
 Interviews and autobiographies
 Daily bulletins, documentaries, television
 News reports (newspaper, radio, television documentaries, podcasting, magazines,
 Speeches, pamphlets and flyers
Arguments, lists and debate notes
Arts works, cartoons, clippings and other visual texts
Survey results
Maps showing places featured in the news
Calendars and timelines
Predictions about future developments
Clippings of people and places featured on Behind the News
Letters, postcards, emails, poems and song lyrics
Responses to stories about issues, etc
Games, puzzles and fascinating facts
Daily observations about consequences of events, e.g. timeline showing petrol price
increases following the war in Iraq
Electronic communications (websites, videos, chatrooms, Internet, e-mail)
General Classroom Follow-Up Activities
The following activities are designed to engage students in listening, speaking and
responding to issues presented on ‘ Behind the News’.
1. Reflection & Favourites
Recall the five main stories and write each title on a separate sheet of paper. Place the
sheets of paper around the room. Instruct students to stand up after watching the show &
reflect on their favourite story. After thirty seconds ask them to move around the room and
stand near the title of their favourite story. Share what they liked or learned.
2. Summarise That
Have students’ pair up and write three or four summary statements about what they have
just learned. Then partner up two groups and share what has been written.
3. Class Quiz
Form five groups and give them a number 1 to 5. These numbers correspond to the stories
in the television program. After watching, ask each group to write a list of 5 questions
about their designated story. Assign a scorekeeper in each group who will award points for
each correct answer given. Once the questions are written each group sends two students
to join up with one other group and they quiz them with their questions. Keep swapping
students until each group has answered all of the questions. The scorekeepers share the
results at the end of the five rounds.
4. Where, What, When, How?
Students pair up and write a question they can pose to the class about one of the stories in
the show. Pair up two groups and when they have had enough time to discuss it, call your
volunteers to share their questions and answers. Alternatively they can write answers and
students have to come up with corresponding questions.
5. Reporter Role-play
Students find a partner. One student role-plays a television reporter and the other takes on
the role of a person who appeared on Behind the News that week. Allow the students
enough time to get into character. Choose some of the students to present their role-plays
to the rest of the class. Other students can record these interviews and play them back to
the class so they can choose the most captivating or thought provoking interview.
6. That’s not Right
After watching the show students pair up and prepare a skit or short talk about one topic
from the television program. One part must be inaccurate. Two groups then pair up and
take it in turns to present their skit or talk, whilst the others have to work out what the
error is.
7. True or False
After watching Behind the News ask students to write three true and three false things
from the program. Pass them around so others can read them and explain why they are
8. Brainstorming
Choose one topic from the television program and discuss it as a class. In small groups, ask
students to brainstorm and record three important things they have learned about the topic
on a sheet of paper. Once they have finished writing, instruct them to walk around the
room and read other sheets of paper and look for new ideas to add to their own.
9. Quick Quiz
Provide students with a piece of paper. Ask them to work with a partner and write a list of
ten questions (with answers on the other side of the paper) about a couple of the stories
they have seen on this week’s ‘Behind the News’. Once written, form groups of four
students and ask them to take turns quizzing each other. Regroup as a class and share
what they learned from the program.
10. In the spotlight
Ask students to take it in turns to sit in a chair at the front of the class. The other students
can choose to take on the role of a person who featured on Behind the News. The other
students can ask him or her questions, trying to guess the identity. The person sitting ‘in
the spotlight’ can only answer ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to these questions.
11. Match That
Ask students to find a partner and collect two sheets of paper. One person in each pair
writes a question about a fact from the most interesting story in today’s program. The
other person writes the answer. Place the questions in an empty hat and the answers in
another one. Ask each student to retrieve a question or answer and then move around the
room to match the questions to the corresponding answers. Once they have found the
student with the corresponding answer they sit down and think of another question, which
could have the same answer. Regroup as a class and share what they have learned.
12. Graphic Review
After watching ‘‘Behind the News’’ arrange students in groups of four. Hand out large
sheets of paper and ask them to draw symbols to summarise some of the concepts they
can remember from this week’s show. Give students a number one to four and ask all the
number 2 and 4 students to move to a group on their right. Once the students are
arranged in their new groups, ask the number 1 and 3 students to explain their symbols.
Repeat this activity until students have switched groups and shared their graphic reviews.
13. Brainstorming Buddies
Ask students to form groups with those who learnt the most from the same story in this
week’s ‘Behind the News’. Once in groups, hand out a felt-tipped pen and large sheet of
paper to each group. Ask students to brainstorm what they know about this topic and
record it on the sheet of paper. Allow them about five minutes and then ask them to write
two questions that they would like to know about this topic. Regroup and share these
questions and see if any other students know the answers. Discuss how the students could
find answers to these questions. If time permitting encourage students to visit the BTN
website and search the related LINKS to find answers to their questions.
14. Circle of Ideas
Stand students in circles of about five students. One person begins a sentence about one
of the topics in this week’s show. For example, “One thing I learned about Islam is …” The
person to the right of the speaker has to continue the sentence, leaving the next person to
add to it. Allow students to explore issues rather than just recall content from the program.
15. Verbal Volley
Students work in pairs. One student names a person, place or object that appeared in this
week’s show. The other students toss another idea back. The aim is to continue play until
the umpire calls time out (allow about 90 seconds).
16. Back to Back
After watching ‘Behind the News’ ask students to find a partner who is most interested
in the same story. Ask students to sit back to back and give them each a sheet of paper.
Ask each student to write what he or she remembers about that topic/story. This can
include graphics, music, images, concepts, or names of people, places and events.
Announce they have three minutes to write as much as they can. When the time is up ask
each student to turn and face his or her partner and compare notes. They can give their
partner one point for each piece of information, and two points if the information is only
recorded on one of their sheets of paper. No cheating allowed!! Add up the points and
keep a class tally.
17. Transcript Follow-Up
After watching ‘Behind the News’ form five groups of students. Provide each group with
a printed transcript from one of the stories. (These can be printed from the BTN website.)
Each group member takes it in turns to read a sentence aloud while the others in that
group listen. When the transcript has been read completely, ask the students to answer
Who, What, Where and Why questions about that topic. Discuss answers and regroup as a
class. Each group can present any points they would like clarified or that they would like to
discuss or research further.
18. Who, What, Where, When, Why, What if..
Write ‘Who, What, Where, Why, When and What if’ on a board. After watching ‘Behind the
News’ ask students to form a small group and write a question starting with each word
based on one of the stories from the television program. Ask each group to swap their list
of questions with a list from another group of students. Give them three minutes to work
out the answers and then instruct the two groups to join up and share their questions and
answers. This activity can be repeated to encourage movement and sharing of their
recollections and understandings.
19. Agree or disagree?
Immediately after watching ‘Behind the News’ say “Agree or disagree?” Then ask
students to turn to the person sitting on their left and explain one thing they disagreed or
agreed with from the television program. He/she must convince his or her partner of her
own point of view. After two minutes ask students to find a new partner and repeat the
20. Vote With Your Feet
After watching ‘Behind the News’ ask students to choose one controversial topic. Using
chalk draw a line across the room. Write the letter A for Agree on one end of the line and D
for Disagree on the other end. Ask students to move and stand on the line closest to their
point of view. If they are undecided they can stand in the middle. Once students have
taken up positions, challenge individual students to explain their point of view. Encourage
the other students to listen and not react to each statement. After students have expressed
different points of view, ask them to rethink the issue and vote with their feet again. Some
students may stay in the same position, while others may have changed their point of view.
Discuss. One controversial issue of this kind is chosen as an online poll on the Behind the
News website. So after this activity students could vote online and see what others think
about the issue.
21. Thumbs Up or Down
Allow students to vote for the online poll when they hear the question in the show. They
can vote by putting thumbs up in the air (“I agree”), sitting on their thumbs (“I need more
information as I still have some questions about this”), or thumbs down (“I disagree”).
After they have watched the entire program discuss the issue and then allow them to vote
again. Ask students to share reasons for their choice and explain why he or she might have
changed a point of view.
22. Most Informative Story
Provide five students with a sheet of paper before watching Behind the News. Give them
each a number from 1 – 5 and ask them to write the name of the corresponding story from
the television program onto an A4 sheet of paper while watching the show. After watching
the program with the rest of the class instruct the students to place the names of each
story in different positions around the room. Tell the students to think about the story they
thought was most informative and move to that sheet of paper. Once students are
standing in groups ask them to sit down and list as many things as they can think of about
the topic.
The activity can be repeated for stories that are:
Enjoyable story
Boring Story
Complicated Story
23. Tossing Ideas Around
After watching Behind the News give one student a Frisbee or foam ‘stress ball’. Ask him or
her to start off the game by saying “ One thing I learned/disagree with/agreed with today
was ..”
Students then toss the Frisbee or ball to another student in the class who has to respond
next. This activity can be used to build on concepts and develop lateral thinking.
24. Visualise That
Immediately after watching Behind the News, ask students to stand and visualise three
things from the program that were most memorable. Allow them about a minute to think of
them. Ask them to find a person who was born in the same month or on the same date
and tell them about their visualisation. Use this activity to stimulate them before moving
onto one of the weekly activities provided online, or a general classroom discussion about
issues from the program.
25. Walk and Talk
After watching the television program ask students to find a partner and take a three
minute walk while they talk about one of the stories they learnt the most about. They need
to come up with two questions about the topic for further investigation or classroom
26. What’s My View?
Students are asked to give a brief oral review of one story from Behind the News. They
need to add their own personal comment about an issue explored in the story.
27. Comparing Stories
Print copies of the story transcripts from the television program. Instruct students to work
in pairs to compare the Behind the News story with a newspaper article, Internet article or
transcript from another news and current affairs program. When they have done this, allow
time for the students to share what their observations and notes. Encourage the students
to identify who the audience is for each story or article they find and consider how this
influences the piece of writing.
28. Rewrite
Working in pairs or small groups, provide students with a transcript for the most unusual,
interesting or controversial story in the program. Ask them to rewrite the transcript for
another television program or a different audience. Give them a choice about how they
present their new transcript. It might be a reading or they may choose to act it out.
29. Lyrics
Students can create a poem or song lyrics about one of the stories or issues presented on
Behind the News.
30. Feedback
Brainstorm a list of criteria, which can be used to rate each story in Behind the News. Write
the criteria up on a board. After watching the television program give each group of
students one story to provide feedback on. They will need to consider things like:
interesting content, accurate information, entertaining, reporter made good eye contact,
lively, easy to understand, engaging music and sound effects, clear maps and graphics,
good use of actors.
31. Group Learning
Put students into small groups and explain that after watching the program they will be
sharing what they have learned. After viewing Behind the News give the groups five
minutes in which to record as much as they can about the program on a large sheet of
paper. Use the words NEWS to announce when one person from each group can move
across to another group and get another fact or idea to add to their notes. Repeat this
several times and then ask the students to display their sheets of paper around the room.
Encourage them to move around and summarise what they have learned.
32. What Do I Know?
Print the Coming Up page from the website. Tell the students about the topics to be
covered in the television program. Pass out large sheets of paper and form 5 groups. Ask
each group to spend a few minutes talking about what they already know about each topic.
View the program and then allocate one story to each group and ask them to write what
they now know about that topic. They can also include things they still want to know. Just
before finishing, ask the students to write one statement summarising the story. Share
these statements.
33. Different Point of View
Provide students with a copy of a transcript from the television program. Ask them to
replace one person in the script, so a different point of view is expressed. They can report
back with a written transcript or a role-play of the interview.
34. Game Show
Create a ‘Behind the News Game Show’ with a range of open and closed questions based
on the program.
35. Students can design and conduct a survey of their family and friends to find out what
they think about an issue presented on Behind the News. Collate the data and compare it
to the comments on the BTN Guestbook.
36. Quiz Alternative
Ask students to write 2 questions on a sheet of paper / card. Write the answers to both
questions on another piece of paper/card. Place all cards in a bowl and mix the up. Ask
students to take two pieces of paper/card from the bowl and move around the room to find
the matching question or answer.
37. Compare & Contrast
Ask students to design a rubric to help them compare & contrast the reporting of a news
story or two stories from the program. After they have made their comparisons, allow
enough time to share their results.
38. Water Saving
Ask students to think of two practical things they can do to help save the Murray River, for
example halve the time I am in the shower. Ask them to draw a large water droplet on a
sheet of paper and cut it out. Get them to write their name, email address and these two
ideas on the droplet. Place the ideas in an empty bucket and mix them up. Students take it
in turns to retrieve a droplet and find out who their water partner is. In two weeks time all
the students regroup and either email or ask that person how he / she is going in their
effort to help save the Murray River.
39. Ask a journalist
Assign students a number from 1 –5 before watching the program. After watching BTN, ask
for five volunteers from the class to take on the role of a journalist expert for each story.
Assign a number from 1 –5 to each journalist. Position the journalists in different locations
around the room. Students move to the group that corresponds with the number they have
been given earlier. Students are then able to ask the journalist questions about that topic.
Students can award points to the journalist if he /she is able to successfully answer the
question. After three minutes ask each journalist to swap roles with a student in their
group. Once new journalists have been assigned the other students move to a different
story group and repeat the exercise. Continue until student have all asked questions about
each story in the program.
40. New Words. Suggested ESL in the mainstream activity
Ask students to learn one new word each time they watch Behind the News. They will need
to teach this word and its meaning to another student.
41. Screw It Up
Write up a question about something you learned on a sheet of paper. Screw it up and
throw it to your partner. He or she has to write the answer to the question, screw the
paper up and toss it back. If correct he/ she gets 2 points. If incorrect the person who
wrote the question scores the points. Repeat the exercise with students swapping partners
after each question is answered and points are scored.
42. Teaching Helps Me Understand
One partner role-plays an adult and the other student role-plays a six-year-old child. Each
adult has to explain, mime or demonstrate a concept or fact to his / her young partner.
Create and add your own ideas to this list
Useful Resources
The following texts are useful resources for adapting ideas to use before and after
watching Behind the News.
Dalton, J (1990) Adventures in Thinking. South Melbourne. Thomas Nelson.
Dickenson, et al. (1987) Brainstorming – activities for creative thinking. Sunnyvale, CA:
Creative Publications.
Jensen, Eric. (2003) Tools for Engagement Managing Emotional States for Learner Success.
San Diego, The Brain Store Inc Resources For Growing Minds.
De Bono, E (1992) Six Thinking hats for schools. Books 1 –4 Victoria: Hawker Brownlow
Parks, S & Black, H (1990) Organising thinking – graphic organisers. Books I & II. Victoria:
Hawker Brownlow Education.
Multiple Intelligences…A Thematic Approach Ages 11+ (2004) R.I.C. Publications
Pohl, M (1997) Teaching thinking in the primary years – a whole school approach. Victoria:
Hawker Brownlow Education
Pohl, Michael. Learning to Think, Thinking To Learn. Models and Strategies to Develop a
Classroom Culture of Thinking.
Forte Imogene & Schurr Sandra, (1997) Graphic Organisers & Planning Outlines For
authentic instruction and assessment. Australia Hawker Brownlow Education
Langrehr John (1993) Better Questions Better Thinking, Melbourne Australia. Longman
McGrath Helen & Noble Toni, (1998) Seven Ways At Once More Classroom Strategies and
Units of Work Based on the Seven Intelligences. Melbourne, Australia. Longman
Young Denis, Farrar Peter & Marveggio Jo. (2005) SOSE Economy and Society Worsheets
for Multiple Intelligences. John Wiley & Sons. SA Ltd.
The Howard Gardner theory is seen at Cook School to be an ideal framework to use in
ensuring good teaching practices and improved outcomes for students. This website has a
clear and lively description of this theory in detail. It’s practical and easy to follow.
Other sites to explore include: