Review by Amanda Bindel, Common Sense Education | Updated March 2017

News-O-Matic, School Edition, 2014-15

Flexible, interactive daily stories for elementary school students

Common Sense Says:
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Grades
2-5 This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
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Pros: High-interest stories are engaging and appropriate for the audience.

Cons: Edition changes every year and must be repurchased.

Bottom Line: Engaging, high-quality news stories help students learn about the world.

News-O-Matic is an excellent way to incorporate daily current events into your classroom, while integrating Common Core State Standards into the topics. If you read an article as a class together, encourage your students to rate it as a group and debate why it receives their positive or negative rating. Choose a kid each day to send a comment or question about an article to the editor.

Set aside time each day for kids to read the day's news and post comments to the class' chat forum. Be sure to check out the separate Teachers 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 parents to load the free version on their home devices and have kids read for homework a few nights per week. 

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News-O-Matic, School Edition, 2016-17 is a daily news and activity app for kids in grades 2–5. Teachers and kids can read five current events articles daily, answer questions, chat with classmates about the stories, and send comments or questions to the editor. Topics include everything from religion and politics to scientific discoveries and kid entrepreneurs.

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 narrator as an alternative to reading them, and all of the stories are also available in Spanish. Kids and teachers can look forward to new articles each day of the school year.

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An exceptional media resource, News-O-Matic helps kids get interested in current events. From listening to how the word "hello" is spoken where a story happened, to viewing the distance between the story and your school's location, kids learn how to think about news from many angles. The more than 15 features (stories, puzzles, games, time lines, a rating system, maps, discussion questions, chat, and more) encourage kids to stay informed on a daily basis. Kids also must think critically about what they're reading, and dig deep into learning more. The "Read to Me" feature can assist kids in learning to correctly pronounce uncommon, subject-specific vocabulary related to news topics, including geographic place names (such as cities and countries), science terms, and more.

A week's worth of content is available for review, so even if kids can't check in daily, they can browse several days' worth of stories, discuss with classmates, and answer questions. Citation information is included with each article so teachers can instruct kids in citing sources, and kids can use the articles for research. The bright visuals, concrete ways to interact with the stories, and extra content for teachers make this a standout news resource for classrooms.

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Overall Rating
4

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?
4

Each day's five stories are high-interest and written for an older elementary audience. Students will appreciate reading the story, viewing slide shows, or watching video clips for each feature.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer?
3

Teachers can set reading levels for individual students to tailor stories to student needs. Comprehension questions are included for each story, as are daily teacher guides that include CCSS alignment.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students?
4

Students can easily communicate with the editorial staff, sending their feedback. Stories can be translated into Spanish or read aloud for students who need that scaffolding.


Common Sense Reviewer
Amanda Bindel Classroom teacher

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