Common Sense Review
Updated November 2013

The Sports Network 2

Make news and build ELA skills with this cable sports show sim
Common Sense Rating 4
  • There are four avatars to choose from, a minor attempt at diversity.
  • There are multiple rooms, halls, and lobbies to visit during play.
  • This interface is the game's core. Students have to flag and label information correctly.
  • Each assignment is assessed with a three star rating.
  • Kids can print progress reports for themselves or teachers.
Pros
Effectively teaches how to analyze persuasive arguments and data.
Cons
Students with short attention spans or trouble remembering facts might get stuck.
Bottom Line
It's a great blend of important cross-disciplinary critical reading skills and a fun newsroom context that'll show students how learning translates to working life.
Jenny Bristol
Common Sense Reviewer
Homeschooling parent/instructor
Common Sense Rating 4
Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return? 4

Set amid the excitement of a newsroom, kids are presented with relatable and interesting tasks and content. It's choice-driven, but a bit more and better guidance would help with these choices and make them even more enticing.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer? 4

Authentic ELA learning is baked in to producing news. Content can be dry but should hold the interested of even reluctant learners. Analyzing text teaches kids how to make informed decisions.

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

Kids can print out results, and there's a teacher resource site and dashboard. With somewhat insufficient help and feedback, some kids will get stuck and not know what to do. 

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How Can Teachers Use It?

It can be used to build reading comprehension, to teach core critical and evaluative reading skills, and/or as an introduction to the professional workplace. It's great for homework or lab work, as kids can print out their results for themselves, and teachers can track detailed information through the dashboard. As an extension activity, have students use the skills they've built in-game to produce mock news or sports broadcasts in small teams -- potentially even about local news. One great way to do this is by having students write copy, record video of the broadcasts, then transform the video into a proper broadcast using Mozilla Popcorn Maker's annotation tools.

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What's It Like?

The Sports Network 2 is set in the bustling context of cable sports news, but it's a reading game at heart. Over five in-game days, students must devise a plan to increase the television network's teen viewership. To that end, students navigate the office environment, as they might in real life, and work to produce content that appeals to teens. They conduct interviews, deconstruct information, and produce good copy that hits on their persuasive goals. A good portion of this involves reading and evaluating the relevancy of information. By merging the fun of a newsroom with these core reading and analytical skills, The Sports Network 2 does a great job of letting students experience how well-tuned reading skills can actually pay off in the world beyond the classroom.

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Is It Good For Learning?

Relatively traditional critical reading exercises are packaged well in The Sports Network 2. Students are given large chunks of text and are prompted to identify the who, what, when, where, and why. They must also work toward the persuasive goals of the newscast, and if they get off track, they get guided feedback. Teachers can also monitor student progress, adjust difficulty depending on performance and ability of individual students, and limit access to certain levels to make sure no one gets too far ahead. Without outside resources or sufficient help tools, kids must remember lots of information without being able to review it, promoting careful reading and retention.

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