Just in time for back-to-school: New distance learning resources are available on Wide Open School.
News-O-Matic EDU is an excellent way to incorporate daily current events into your classroom, and make sure you're addressing Common Core State Standards. Teachers might opt to kick off each day by reading an article together. After reading, invite students to connect the topic to their lives. As a follow-up, different students each day can be tasked with sending in a comment or question to the News-O-Matic editors connected to the class's discussion.
Teachers could also set aside time each day for students to do independent reading, complete the associated activities (like submitting a drawing), and post comments to the class's chat forum (app only). Be sure to check out the separate Teacher's Guide for questions related to the articles, scope and sequence, and suggested discussion questions. Teachers can set Lexile levels individually for students, and teachers can customize the questions related to each article. If time doesn't permit daily news time in class, teachers can encourage reading at home via the free app or website (login required).Continue reading Show less
News-O-Matic EDU is a daily news and activity app for kids. Teachers and students can read a new current event article each weekday (every week of the year), answer questions, chat with classmates about the stories, and send comments or questions to the editor. Topics include everything from politics to pop culture to scientific discoveries.
A child psychologist reviews the articles for age-appropriateness, and each day teachers get a Teacher's Guide via email that has discussion questions, assessment questions correlated to Common Core State Standards, and more. A Read to Me feature allows kids to hear stories via a human narrator (not text-to-speech) as an alternative to reading them, and all of the stories are available in English, Spanish, French, and Arabic.
With a wide variety of topics and creative, current headlines, News-O-Matic EDU helps kids get interested in news and the world. Interactive features (videos, puzzles, games, a rating system, maps, discussion questions, chat, and more) engage students beyond the reading, and help them connect, for instance, an article to a map that places the story in geographical context. Questions and prompts focus on comprehension, though, and could offer a bit more deeper learning and critical thinking. The Read to Me feature -- which admirably features real human voices -- helps kids learn to correctly pronounce uncommon, subject-specific vocabulary related to news topics, including geographic place names, science terms, and more. Teachers can adjust the Lexile levels on a per student basis, but lower-leveled articles may not read as smoothly and are sometimes missing details found in the higher Lexile versions. The past two weeks' worth of content is always accessible, which is great for kids who can't check in daily or who want to reread an older article. The kid-friendly visuals, concrete ways to interact with the stories, and extra content for teachers make News-O-Matic a reliable choice for elementary classrooms.
While the content is impressive, there's some clunky and slow navigation, and students would benefit from clearer instructional supports. For example, when articles are read aloud, there's no animated cursor to show what part of the text is being read. Also, many of the questions ask students to reference other sections of the site/app (e.g., the map or slideshow), and it would be helpful if those elements were linked to from the questions, or able to be pulled up for side-by-side viewing.
Key Standards Supported
Reading Informational Text
Explain how specific images (e.g., a diagram showing how a machine works) contribute to and clarify a text.
By the end of year, read and comprehend informational texts, including history/social studies, science, and technical texts, in the grades 2–3 text complexity band proficiently, with scaffolding as needed at the high end of the range.
Ask and answer questions to demonstrate understanding of a text, referring explicitly to the text as the basis for the answers.
Use text features and search tools (e.g., key words, sidebars, hyperlinks) to locate information relevant to a given topic efficiently.
By the end of the year, read and comprehend informational texts, including history/social studies, science, and technical texts, at the high end of the grades 2–3 text complexity band independently and proficiently.
Refer to details and examples in a text when explaining what the text says explicitly and when drawing inferences from the text.
Explain events, procedures, ideas, or concepts in a historical, scientific, or technical text, including what happened and why, based on specific information in the text.
Interpret information presented visually, orally, or quantitatively (e.g., in charts, graphs, diagrams, time lines, animations, or interactive elements on Web pages) and explain how the information contributes to an understanding of the text in which it appears.
By the end of year, read and comprehend informational texts, including history/social studies, science, and technical texts, in the grades 4–5 text complexity band proficiently, with scaffolding as needed at the high end of the range.
By the end of the year, read and comprehend informational texts, including history/social studies, science, and technical texts, at the high end of the grades 4–5 text complexity band independently and proficiently.