I'm in New Mexico so that my daughters could visit (and meet, in the baby's case) their great-grandparents. A highlight for me was getting to spend the day with my aunt while she taught her high school history classes.
She begins each class period with a 'news journal'. Every morning she audio records 3-5 minutes of NPR. She writes on the board a sentence about several of the main stories from the segment with blanks. The students fill in the blanks as they listen. They spend a few minutes talking about the news. They are able to make connections to previous days and even weeks or months in the news. The Iraq war has come up on many occasions. They also make connections to history. Yesterday, when I was there, one story was about a virus that is resistant to drugs. Students were able to connect it to the plague they had recently studied. I was so impressed with how much more they will understand about the world around them and the history they study through this ten minute beginning to class. After the discussion they write a three sentence commentary to reflect.
I think this is such a fantastic practice because of their learning and their practice writing. However, having watched a day in a high school I think it is helpful for the teacher as well. The teachers are in the hallway during the transition between classes so they come in after the students are seated and have no time to get anything together. Playing the recording of NPR gives my aunt a few minutes to get organized and get her brain in gear for the next class. Smart on so many levels!