I really struggle with terrorism. The killing of innocent people to draw attention to one's dogma, be it religious or social, is unfathomable to me. In Boston today, people who never had anything to do with whatever religious or social agenda the bomber had in mind are burying their loved ones and learning to cope with new disabilities. The world is diminished.
Students sometimes want to talk about these things and that is not something that can be done easily (if at all) in the target language. Regardless, my current Spanish II chapter vocabulary has such words as explosion, smoke, fire fighters, paramedics, and other related words on the list. And we are using preterite and imperfect to discuss the past, so I decided that we could cover this topic.
I wrote a description of the event in very simplified Spanish and included a picture to help with comprehension and discussion. Then I found a short video (40 seconds) in native Spanish covering the tragedy as well. As these things go, the Spanish in the video is reasonably approachable for a late-year Spanish II student with sufficient teacher scaffolding. To do that, I created a series of mini activities with different objectives so they could watch the video several different times. Each time they watched the video again, they would be looking/listening for something different. 6th period gave a thumbs up at the end of the activity and said they were able to understand, if not every word of the video, at least the big picture of what was going on overall.
I left a spot for the students to write some thoughts and reflections at the end. These points could be used in small or large group discussions, if your students are good at that and can be trusted to stay on topic.
When I finished with the activity today, I offered it to the other Spanish teachers here and they were positive about it. So now I share it with you and hope your students can have some success with Spanish and staying abreast of current events. Perhaps it will give them a voice to their thoughts.
My love and prayers go out to the victims of the explosions and to their loved ones. God bless you all.