News Exchange | A structured sharing activity

Some of my learners have jobs that require them to keep abreast of what’s going on in the world. In fact, for most of these professionals, the focus of their work is the United States where their clients and key stakeholders live. It’s a good idea to know what’s going on there. I came up with this activity to address this need and also provide a segue from the work that Ss are constantly wrapping-up on their laptops as they walk into my class.  The activity uses a Japanese news aggregator called Newsmap which visually represents trending news stories. The more space a news item takes up on the map, the more buzz it’s generating online. When you hover your cursor over a news item, you’ll see the first two or three sentences of an article linked to it. The newsmap can be customized based on a number of countries and the type of news (world, financial, tech etc).

I quite like this activity because it helps me meet multiple goals. It gets Ss connected to trending news. It serves as a warmer and a quick reading cum speaking activity which requires Ss to mingle and talk to each other.



No preparation necessary.


WiFi enabled classroom & digital devices (BYOD) to access Newsmap, timer (old school version or an online timer such as the ones available on Triptico). Noisemaker such as a whistle. Check variations for a low-tech version if you don’t have a connected classroom.


  • Ask Ss to close all their work related applications and open up their browser and connect to Newsmap.
  • Bring up the timer and set it for between 90 seconds and 3 minutes depending on your learners’ reading ability.
  • Ask learners to skim trending news items – hovering their cursors over these titles and getting a sense of what’s being talked about.
  • Call time and ask Ss to pair up with someone from the other side of the room. In pairs, Ss should share top news stories of the day and should ask each other questions to get more details. Encourage them to speculate and make predictions if they are not certain about the details.
  • Blow the whistle after a minute and ask Ss to find a new partner. Repeat exchange. Continue this procedure as long as time permits


  • At the end of the activity, ask Ss the following questions … Was there any news that …
    • you missed on the map which you found about later while talking to your colleagues?
    • you found interesting or exciting?
    • you found boring?
    • you think might be relevant to your project, work or to your clients?


  • Low-tech version 1: Take a screenshot of the Newsmap before you head into class and simply project using your LCD projector so all the Ss can have a look. The downside is that they won’t be able to read the first few lines and make predictions about the content of these articles.
  • Low-tech version 2: Ask Ss to access Newsmap before they come into class and come prepared to discuss trending news.
  • Low-tech version 3: Take a few printouts of the Newsmap and post them around the room.
  • Mobile version: Newsmap has an Android and an iPhone app but il y a un problème. The app requires flash which doesn’t work on all phones.

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