I'm smack in the middle of my Social Action unit with my students and the kids started researching their topics today. Some groups are focusing on hunger, or poverty, global warming or conservation, homelessness or volunteering, or donating, or Darfur, etc... They started out going through 12 centers - each center had a news article for them to read, to build background knowledge. Then they had to pick their 'Burning Issue' - the issue they had to do something about. The issue they couldn't believe or couldn't ignore.
Then I grouped them according to their issues. So, one group found this website on poverty that had a live counter in the top right corner, counting the number of human beings that have died from starvation that hour. It really impacted my students - they could not get their brains around the reality of people starving...to death. They are so fired up about raising awareness among their fellow students. The rest of the kids are 110% into their topics too - pretty cool stuff. It amazes me to hear the deep thinking, the discussions, the organizing, the teamwork, the 'how can this be happening?' talks - basically, the kids amaze me. Middle Schoolers are one incredible bunch of human beings - so much excitement and enthusiasm - it simply has to be tapped into.
Just thought I'd share. Hope you have a rockin' weekend.