News topics can make for interesting classroom discussions, but social studies teachers say controversial issues offer the chance to teach students about being active in society. Teacher Joe Furlan, from Hall High School in Spring Valley, Ill., said he uses current events as he teaches government and U.S. history, often connecting news of the present with events in the past. "The goal is to have them better informed so they can make better decisions later on. It shows them that they have a power of the vote and can change things," Furlan said.

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