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Sharing opinions, analysing world events, and developing a critical understanding of the media are all things students get better at with regular practice.
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In the latest edition
© InfoMore than 250 hikers were on the peak of Japan's Mount Ontake when the volcano unexpectedly erupted at the end of September. Discuss the challenges faced by the response teams. This was a mountain rescue, with many casualties, in conditions that included toxic gases, smoke and ash.
The rescue operation involved hundreds of workers. Talk about the different specialist teams and equipment needed. How would young people approach a rescue operation in this environment?
Think about the support teams as well as those directly helping. How can food, drink and an opportunity to rest be supplied in treacherous conditions for 500 people on a 3,000-metre mountain - more than twice as high as Ben Nevis?
Think too about emotional help, called psycho-social support by aid agencies. Some survivors were physically unharmed, but had seen family or friends buried by volcanic ash. There were anxious relatives desperate for news. Discuss practical assistance that could make a difference.
© InfoIf at first you don't succeed, try, try and try again. Does such advice help people? Invite opinions on the sayings that adults use to pass wisdom to children.
Guess which maxims were most popular in a recent survey by children's charity the NSPCC. "Practice makes perfect" headed the list. Ask young people to share sayings that they know. Have these words of wisdom helped them cope with challenging situations?
"Treat others how you'd like to be treated", which came second in the poll, is an ancient ethical principle sometimes known as the golden rule. Could this be a be useful way to think about helping someone in a crisis? Explain why.
Some sayings are warnings, others are encouragements. Which type do young people prefer to hear? Which are they more likely to pass on to others? Talk about how you acquire wisdom. Is it mainly from words, actions or experiences?
© InfoImagine returning home one afternoon and finding a tornado has ripped the entire roof off your house. That's what happened to William Sitch from Alfreton, Derbyshire in early October.
What would be young people's first reaction? Would they enter the damaged building? What would they be most concerned to retrieve? Ask them to map out their next moves - who they would call, where they would go, what they would take?
Tornadoes in the UK are freak events, with around 30 reported a year, generally much weaker than those in the USA. Talk about preparing for events which are unlikely to happen but would have a dramatic impact. Invite young people to suggest different ways they could prepare for different types of emergenies.
Discuss the conditions that can lead to tornadoes - warm moist air rising and meeting cold air. Why do thunderstorms commonly happen in the late afternoon? If you lived in a country where tornadoes were common, how would your life be different?
Previous editions of newsthink
© InfoA man called Andy from Perth, Australia stumbled as he was getting on a crowded commuter train last month. His leg wedged between the platform edge and the carriage of a 90-tonne train.
Staff struggled to free him for ten minutes or more. Then a woman had an idea. If everyone pushed the carriages it could relieve the pressure on Andy's leg. Ask who thinks this would work.
It did work, very quickly. Serious injury and a long delay for commuters were averted. The resulting video of people power was broadcast around the world.
Talk about inventiveness and improvisation. Would students have had the idea? How would they have communicated it to the train staff? Sometimes people don't try things because they think they won't work. When might this be a mistake?
The train tilt depended on a lot of people helping. What motivates us to help strangers?
Andy was amazed when he discovered the incident was reported worldwide. Can you explain the appeal?
Ice bucket challenge
© InfoMillions of people worldwide have been drenched by icy water for charity. The ice bucket challenge reportedly raised very large sums for the Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Association and the Motor Neurone Disease Association in the UK, as well as other charities.
The stunt is also said to have raised awareness of charitable causes. Who feels they know more about a charity or medical condition since the challenge?
One well-known journalist refused the challenge and suggested people should donate because they want help a good cause, not because of the latest fad. Who agrees? Who disagrees? Explore how and why students engage with different charities.
What did students who were challenged consider in their decision? Did it turn out as they expected? What was their dominant feeling afterwards? Try to pinpoint why the challenge took off. The charities who benefited couldn't have planned it to happen. Compare it with other fundraising events that have gone viral.
© InfoOver 400 injured service men and women from 13 countries took part in the Invictus Games in London. Championed by Prince Harry, their aim is to use the power of sport to inspire recovery and support rehabilitation.
Invictus means "unconquered". Discuss the word. In what sense can people be "unconquered" after being injured? Is it an attitude of mind, or something physical? Can being unconquered be practised and worked at?
Identify the different benefits of sport to once-active people who have been badly injured. Is the banter and camaraderie of colleagues most important? Or the sense of purpose and value? The Invictus Games also aim to raise awareness of the challenges faced by wounded veterans. Do students think they succeeded?
Sport doesn't suit everyone, and not all wounded service personnel can take part. In what other ways do people overcome adversity and show their courage and determination?
Ruling body bites back
© InfoAn international football disciplinary committee says Uruguay striker Luis Suarez assaulted another player and showed unsporting behaviour towards him. The apparent bite on an opponent's shoulder resulted in a 9-game international ban and a total ban on all football for four months.
Discuss why someone might bite another player. Why do the authorities treat it more seriously than a rough tackle or head butt?
As a group, brainstorm different situations that might make a person feel angry. List different factors which might make someone more likely to react negatively to a certain situation? This can be a wide-ranging list, from the pressure of a World Cup football match to being blamed for something that wasn’t your fault.
Make a list of common ways of dealing with anger and frustration. Which are acceptable and which are not? Does acceptability vary according to situations and circumstances?
What are the consequences of losing control in an angry outburst? What can you do to help manage your emotions during stressful situations?
Ever been for medical advice with no current symptoms to show the doctor? It happens with conditions that come and go. It can be frustrating, as doctors have trouble diagnosing something they cannot see.
That's why 49-year-old Stacey Yepes from Toronto, Canada videoed her face as she was having a stroke. The medics were impressed - and able to diagnose and treat her condition.
Talk about how strokes are caused. A blockage of the blood supply to the brain can affect someone's appearance, movement and speech. Doctors think that Stacey had "mini-stroke"
Watch the video and list the different symptoms you can see.
You can help someone having a stroke. Use the memory aid: think F.A.S.T.
Face: is there weakness on one side of their face?
Arms: can they raise both arms?
Speech: is their speech easily understood?
Time: to call 999
A stroke needs immediate attention, and the faster a person receives medical help, the less damage is caused.
Discuss the pros and cons of using video to record emergencies. When might it be useful to video an incident?
When might it not be appropriate? What would you bear in mind before videoing yourself or someone else?
Road casualties falling
Road deaths in Britain fell by two per cent last year. The number of those who died, 1,713, is the lowest since national records began in 1926. Nearly half of those who died were in cars, and nearly a quarter were pedestrians.
Government experts are not sure of the reasons for these reductions. What do students find interesting about these national statistics and what factors do they think might be behind them?
Match students' ideas with possible explanations suggested by the government: the economic downturn, reduced average traffic speeds, better technology in cars, better engineering on highways, improved education and training, and improvements in trauma care.
Debate and vote on those that seem most influential.
On average, more than seven pedestrians and two cyclists are killed each week on Britain's roads.
Which parts of the local area are known to be hazardous for cyclists or pedestrians? Use students' knowledge to devise safer alternative routes.
What else might road users do to reduce their own vulnerability? Invite students to draw up a list, including texting whilst walking and listening to music on headphones. For more information see the National Statistics available here from the Department of Transport.