How to address violence in the news with your students.
Abridge News is a useful tool to include in your government or social studies classes, especially for high school students. It promotes learning about current events, understanding multiple perspectives on an issue, and learning about often subtle differences along the spectrum of ideas.
Since the app orders the topics in reverse chronological order with the most recent topic shown first, it's easy to find the most current topic to discuss. Have students read the background information in the app, the takeaway points from the articles, and the articles themselves for homework, voting on how closely they agree with each of the four perspectives. Then go over the results in the next class, seeing how the class voted (perhaps anonymously to protect privacy) and taking a critical look at the contents of the articles. And if you don't want to have each individual student use the app, you can use the materials supplied in the app to present to the whole class at once.
If you want to study these topics in significant depth, however, you'll need to gather additional information on them, since the app doesn't go deeper than basic background facts. Then you can extend these lessons to be longer discussions or even group projects. Alternatively, if pressed for time, you could just hit the highlights, focusing more on the bullet points and the differences of the four perspectives.Continue reading Show less
Editor's Note: Abridge News is no longer available.
Abridge News is a current events news app that provides a daily topic on which readers can read four different perspectives from across the opinion spectrum. From politics to sports to culture to science, Abridge News' content team chooses a timely topic for the day that has plenty of room for debate, finds four different op-ed pieces from across the political or ideological spectrum, arranges them based on their content and arguments, and presents them in an easily digestible format. The articles are based on facts, but they don't always paint a complete picture of the facts; it's up to readers to analyze what they read.
First, readers view The Quick Facts, which give a quick historical background on the topic to get them up to speed. Then readers tap on the Opinion Spectrum to read one or all of the four perspectives on that topic. Each perspective has bullet points summarizing the original article, with facts or pull quotes from it. Readers can tap through to read the original article in their browser. Afterward, readers can then weigh in on how they feel about the article, expressing their agreement, disagreement, or undecided nature by choosing from a subset of choices such as "I strongly support this," "This doesn't paint the full picture," "I agree with some, but not all," etc. After voting, readers can compare their responses to other readers' reactions.
Each topic has its own spectrum, with some having a more political left-right dichotomy while others describe the spectrum as supporting or not supporting an issue or person, or celebrating how far we've come versus how far we have yet to go. Additionally, users can filter the news topics by category, or search the archives to find topics with specific keywords. While there's a decent archive, teachers will definitely find some gaps.
The Abridge News app pointedly gets readers to think critically about opinion pieces published on the internet, which will get students thinking about the substance of arguments, the facts supporting or refuting positions, and the perspectives of those who don't feel the same way they do about a subject. All of this together builds critical thinking skills and increases empathy. It also saves teachers some time in presenting the basic background and collecting the first round of sources they might want to use to illustrate the spectrum of opinions. With that foundational work done, teachers can dive more deeply into rhetoric, history, political science, or whatever else is the focus of their curriculum.
Since the articles are arranged on a spectrum based on the content of the article itself, not on the leanings of the publication they're from, this gives students an opportunity to look at previously judged writers and publications in a new light. And it's not always left-wing versus right-wing; for International Women's Day, for example, the spectrum is from the celebration of women on one end to protesting still-existing disparities in our society on the other. While the app does include non-political topics, it's definitely focused primarily on politics and issues' political context.
Key Standards Supported
Reading History/Social Studies
Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of primary and secondary sources, attending to such features as the date and origin of the information.
Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary of how key events or ideas develop over the course of the text.
Analyze in detail a series of events described in a text; determine whether earlier events caused later ones or simply preceded them.
Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including vocabulary describing political, social, or economic aspects of history/social science.
Analyze how a text uses structure to emphasize key points or advance an explanation or analysis.
Compare the point of view of two or more authors for how they treat the same or similar topics, including which details they include and emphasize in their respective accounts.
Assess the extent to which the reasoning and evidence in a text support the author’s claims.
Compare and contrast treatments of the same topic in several primary and secondary sources.
By the end of grade 10, read and comprehend history/social studies texts in the grades 9–10 text complexity band independently and proficiently.
Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of primary and secondary sources, connecting insights gained from specific details to an understanding of the text as a whole.
Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary that makes clear the relationships among the key details and ideas.
Evaluate various explanations for actions or events and determine which explanation best accords with textual evidence, acknowledging where the text leaves matters uncertain.
Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including analyzing how an author uses and refines the meaning of a key term over the course of a text (e.g., how Madison defines faction in Federalist No. 10).
Analyze in detail how a complex primary source is structured, including how key sentences, paragraphs, and larger portions of the text contribute to the whole.
Evaluate authors’ differing points of view on the same historical event or issue by assessing the authors’ claims, reasoning, and evidence.
Evaluate an author’s premises, claims, and evidence by corroborating or challenging them with other information.
Integrate information from diverse sources, both primary and secondary, into a coherent understanding of an idea or event, noting discrepancies among sources.
By the end of grade 12, read and comprehend history/social studies texts in the grades 11–CCR text complexity band independently and proficiently.
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