Review by Patricia Monticello Kievlan, Common Sense Education | Updated June 2014
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NPR News

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Top-notch digital content takes students beyond the airwaves

Subjects & skills
  • Social Studies

  • Communication & Collaboration
  • Critical Thinking
Grades This grade range is based on learning appropriateness and doesn't take into account privacy. It's determined by Common Sense Education, not the product's publisher.
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Pros: Quality selection of offline listening choices and straightforward browsing options make reading effortless.

Cons: Saving audio for offline listening can quickly consume hard-drive space.

Bottom Line: Provides an easy, fun, and effective way to engage students with radio.

Teachers could encourage students to use the app to dive more deeply into a particular story or topic, as well as invite them to share and comment on articles they've read. Teachers might also use the app to help students develop daily news-reading habits, and to encourage weaker readers to listen to audio content as they read the text.

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NPR News is a gateway to new and archived content from National Public Radio. This app offers the best of both worlds: It’s a great app for reading the news and a great way to listen to the radio. The app’s main screen offers audio controls and one-touch access to listen live, and the top sections of the screen feature thumbnails of stories on various topics. Users can explore audio, text, and images from NPR's news, music, and arts & life sections, and also browse stories by audio program. An option is provided to hear NPR’s top-of-the-hour news update on demand, and kids can easily create a playlist of articles and topics to download for offline reading and listening. They can also search for local stations and save them to a favorites list for easy streaming. 

The best thing about this app is how easy it is to navigate. Users swipe to bring up new articles, while links to listen or comment scroll down the page with the text. Since audio content can quickly monopolize space on a device, the app helpfully lets users limit which articles and topics will be saved for offline use.

Although this app wasn’t designed for education, it’s a useful tool for giving students broader access to NPR content. Just as some radio listeners are surprised to see the faces behind the announcers' voices, kids are excited to discover rich images and links that enhance the radio stories. Each article is an invitation to explore content in multiple ways, as a reader, a listener, a viewer, or all three. Since all content is free and can be viewed offline, this could be a great tool for the classroom, particularly for kids with limited Internet access at home.

Overall Rating

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

Easily scrolling through various articles and linking related content can be exciting and fun for students. The ability to save audio content offline is also helpful.

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

Although no assessments are built in, and the app doesn't set any educational goals, easy linking among articles and simple ways to connect information offer solid opportunities for learning.

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

Navigation is easy, as is tracking students' progress through the stories, and extra help is only a tap away.

Common Sense Reviewer
Patricia Monticello Kievlan Foundation/nonprofit member

Teacher Reviews

(See all 3 reviews) (3 reviews) Write a review
Featured review by
Dena L. , Classroom teacher
Classroom teacher
Diamond Bar High School
Diamond Bar, United States
The true nature of science and math is most often found in innovative reporting about the real world.
This is an amazing resource. I believe it is a great tool for a teacher who clearly sees herself as a facilitator, directing students to interesting, relevant content and then motivating them to explore the big ideas and the implications of those big ideas. It is so nice to know that articles and podcasts that are effective in the classroom are easily archived. So far, I have used about 50--and haven't lost one. I would not use this tool for independent work without teacher direction.
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