Review by Erin Brereton, Common Sense Education | Updated March 2017

Smithsonian: TweenTribune

Trustworthy tween news site has cool classroom component

Subjects & skills
  • English Language Arts
  • Social Studies

  • 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: Kids will find the articles interesting, and teachers can track student quiz and comment activity to facilitate progress.

Cons: Articles on fluff topics like a pageant shoe parade don't offer much useful information; the topic listings and tags could be more clearly defined.

Bottom Line: TweenTribune's questions, quizzes, and educator tools can help kids follow and understand the news; its content may work best with younger users.

Teachers who register can add students' names, set up a classroom, and share articles and other content. Student comments aren't visible until a teacher approves them, and they can be seen only by other classmates, unless teachers decide to make comments public so that kids can communicate with students from other schools.

The site offers a daily multiple-choice quiz based on three articles; it tests vocabulary, reading comprehension, and critical thinking. Teachers can view individual student scores and responses. They can also reset their classroom's quiz points to identify the highest scorer, and can download and distribute bronze, silver, and gold quiz performance reward certificates. Additional educational materials -- including resources on vocabulary, reading, journalism, critical thinking, and other lesson plans that support the Common Core standards -- are available.

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Created by a seasoned news professional, Smithsonian's TweenTribune (and the associated TTJunior and TeenTribune) encourages kids to follow current events. The site's content is divided into sections for grades K-4, 5-8, and 9-12, as well as a Tech category. It also features content in Spanish, which can be used for ESL students or for kids learning the language.

Journalists work with teens, tweens, and teachers to select the articles, which are mostly from the Associated Press. Each day, a couple of new items are posted; these include comprehension- and vocabulary-based quizzes and adjustable Lexile levels. A critical-thinking challenge question encourages kids to consider a specific aspect of a story, such as a person's motivation. Students can also post teacher-moderated comments about articles.

Students won't necessarily learn about the day's biggest news stories on TweenTribune, which tends to focus on human-interest stories and includes occasional fluff pieces. But kids should be able to find interesting things on the site that they'll want to read; stories cover a variety of topics, including science, technology, animals, and teen celebrities.

The blog-like news coverage is easy to navigate; the home page includes brief descriptions and a suggested grade level for each article, which can help teachers quickly determine assignments. Students should enjoy the interactive quizzes (although they'll need to resist consulting the still-visible articles for answers). The critical-thinking questions will encourage kids to consider what they've read on a deeper level. The site could add even more questions to each article to facilitate further reflection and conversation. All these features help students using the site outside of class absorb the material. However, help and guidance from teachers can ensure that students fully understand the lessons packaged with each TweenTribune article.

Overall Rating

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

Articles contain quizzes and critical thinking questions that personalize and extend the learning experience. The site covers subjects that kids will find interesting, and they can post comments and discuss articles.

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

Kids learn about art, health, science, and other topics. Articles reinforce reading, critical thinking, communication, and language skills. Kids can see the quiz answers they missed; questions can inspire further thought and discussion.

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

A bunch of lesson plans based on the Common Core State Standards are available. The site also offers tips on teaching kids argumentative reasoning and other skills.

Teacher Reviews

(See all 13 reviews) (13 reviews) Write a review
Featured review by
Leslie M. , Classroom teacher
Classroom teacher
Alamosa Park Elementary School
Oceanside, United States
High interest, non-fiction quick reads that includes a quiz and student comment feature.
It is a great non-fiction news site with a wide variety of articles written at differentiated Lexile levels. I can see how it would appeal to younger ages, but for my 4th and 5th graders it is right on target. I love the daily quiz and immediate feedback for students. I appreciate that there is a writing opportunity for students. The site is very teacher friendly and offers several resources, links and tips for teachers. The critical thinking prompts at the end of each article help spark student ...
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