News-O-Matic EDU

Daily news stories and supplements keep elementary schoolers current

Learning rating

Community rating

Based on 5 reviews

Privacy rating

Not yet rated
Expert evaluation by Common Sense

Grades

2–6

Subjects & Skills

Critical Thinking, English Language Arts, Social Studies

Great for

Evaluating Media, Media Literacy

Price: Free to try
Platforms: Android, iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, Kindle Fire

Pros: Updated five days a week for all 52 weeks of the year.

Cons: Pages and features might display incorrectly (based on device), plus feature availability varies by platform.

Bottom Line: This highly useful current events platform can be a daily fixture of elementary school classrooms.

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).

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.

Learning Rating

Overall Rating
Engagement

It's constantly updated with five stories per week for all 52 weeks of the year. Students will appreciate reading or listening to the story, viewing slideshows, and watching video clips for each feature.

Pedagogy

Teachers can set reading levels for individual students. Each story features comprehension questions and an activity suggestion, but nothing digs too deep. There are handy tools for highlighting and drawing.

Support

Article text and narration is available in multiple languages. Captions, quizzes, and activities don't support text-to-speech. The teacher dashboard only works in a web browser.

Common Sense reviewer
Melissa P.
Melissa P. school library and technology specialist

Community Rating

Current Events for kids in a digital format!

Reading about current events comes to life with this interactive app! Students can choose to read articles about events that are taking place in their world. Reading levels for different grade levels can be set for students. The colorful pictures, catchy article titles, and interactive nature of the app make it possible for students to stay up-to-date and become better global citizens.

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Privacy Rating

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