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Lessons on Current Events

Part of the Virtual Crew Collection

In planning and facilitating virtual crew, the goal is to nurture the sense of belonging, purpose, and agency that students need during this time by making space for them to:

  • process their emotions
  • connect with, care for, and find moments of joy and fun with each other
  • learn, talk, and think critically about the times that we’re in
  • advocate and develop skills for themselves and others as virtual learners
  • take actions, however big or small, to better themselves, their families, and community.

Lessons about current events can serve any of these purposes, but are often especially good for learning, talking, and thinking critically about the times that we’re in, and taking actions.

Two topics that secondary students in particular are likely to want to explore are the connections of racism and coronavirus, and how governments are responding in this crisis. Here are two sample lessons:

Reflecting on a Government Decision in a Crisis

These plans courtesy of Sarah Purdy, based on plans created by Shatera Weaver at MELS. Click here for Google Doc version

Topic & Target: Check in. We can reflect on the pros and cons of a government decision in a crisis.

Greeting 1:

Where are you on the tree this morning and why? In other words, what blob describes how you feel this morning? What made you choose this blob?

Greeting 2: 

How did your self care go this weekend? 3-4 crew members share out. 


Activity: Watch  USA Today Social Distancing video

We talked briefly about what social distancing is, but we’re going to watch a quick video with some more information.


  • What is the aim of social distancing? 
  • What does the graph mean by “protective measures”?

On a google doc spreadsheet, write down the pros and cons of social distancing for society. 


  • Given this information do you think closing schools was the best idea? 

Crew Work:

  • Review your class assignments and create a daily schedule for the week.
  • Due Wednesday by EOD:  Read After reading the article, write or create a video response to the following prompts:  Do you think it was a good idea for the Bend LaPine School District to close down schools until April 28th? Why or why not? Explain your point of view with evidence from the article and/or any other credible articles.  Optional: Watch the Daily Show Interview with Dr. Fauci.

Check out in chat box: 

  • What is a goal that you have for yourself this week?


  • What is the first thing you want to do when we no longer have to “social distance”?

Coronavirus and Racism

This series was created by  NYC Outward Bound Schools. For Google Doc version, click here.

Learning Target:  I can describe how COVID-19 and other pandemics have led to increases in racism and xenophobia (fear or hatred of anything foreign, including people from other countries).

Overview of the activity: Examine how COVID-19 has led to racism and xenophobia toward Chinese and Chinese Americans, as well as other Asian Americans. Learn how other pandemics have also led to racism and xenophobia toward other ethnic groups throughout history. Consider how you can respond to and combat this hate. 

ResourcesCoronavirus Racism Infected My High School, The New York Times; Notecatcher 

Suggested Questions

  • Discussion: Have you seen examples of racism or xenophobia toward Asians since the COVID-19 outbreak began, either in real life or online? Describe some of them.
  • How would you feel if some of your classmates suddenly started saying things like, “Everyone from your ethnic group is dirty”?
  • Why do you think crises like pandemics bring out racism and xenophobia?
  • Debrief: We know we can practice social distancing to minimize the spread of COVID-19. Is there anything we can do to minimize the spread of racism associated with the disease? How can we be “upstanders”?


  • Multi-day activity
  • Rely on norms and protocols to create a safe and brave space for discussion

Considerations for:

  • Older students (extensions): Business Insider: specific microaggressions Asians and Asian Americans are facing and why more racism and xenophobia is a common reaction to pandemics). Scientific American: how and why pandemics are linked to urbanization and habitat destruction
  • Younger students: An NPR comic addressing some common coronavirus concerns kids have. Brainpop video about coronavirus. 
  • Staff Crew: any of the above. Underscore the fact that anyone can catch and pass on COVID-19 - majority of countries around the world have had cases of COVID-19 (most are not in Asia). Define upstander (a person who recognizes when something is wrong and acts to make it right) 

Have an example to share? We are learning alongside you about what virtual crew can look like, and welcome your contributions. Use this form or email Sarah Norris at

And for treasure hunters out there, we are maintaining this public folder with everything we find.


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EL Education

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