Website review by Common Sense Editor, Common Sense Education | Updated October 2021

The Learning Network

High-powered news site offers daily resource to process current events

Learning rating
Community rating
Based on 6 reviews
Privacy rating
50%| Warning Expert evaluation by Common Sense
Grades
7–12
Subjects & Skills
English Language Arts, Social Studies, Critical Thinking

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Pros: Daily content and a vast archive. Topics relevant to all content areas.

Cons: Not much for younger students. Most valuable in a one-to-one environment.

Bottom Line: Driven by a trusted news organization with its finger on the pulse of the world, this free resource can be a reliable source of activities and ideas for current event discussions.

The Learning Network provides a reliable place to connect current events to reading and writing skills-building. The topics are so wide ranging that classrooms from social studies to science might find something relevant to provide real-world context to curricular content. Even if there's not something relevant on a particular day or week, students and teachers can search the huge database of content according to content area or type as well as by keyword. In many ways, The Learning Network could be a valuable place to begin class each day, either by projecting it on an interactive board for class discussions or by providing links to individual students.

There are plenty of helpful areas located right off the home page. These include a lesson of the day as well as an archive of past lessons. There's also a student opinion blog, where students 13 years and older are invited to comment on news of the day. Each of these areas is grouped into content-area sections for further modified searching around a topic or idea. The site also has handy writing prompts, quizzes, and contests. There's even a section on the home page that highlights "accessible" activities. For teachers, there are live and on-demand webinars.

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The Learning Network is a website that features news content from The New York Times tuned for teacher use and classroom discussion. There are few newspapers in the world with as high of a profile as The New York Times, and its site for educators lives up to that reputation by providing a rich set of resources to discuss current events or other important topics. There's a host of features, many updated regularly, including daily lessons, a word of the day, writing and thinking prompts based on images or graphs, contests, and quizzes. Navigating the home page is relatively simple: there are features (a mix of content types) above-the-fold at the start, often timely and relevant. Below that section is more related content. Then there's a row of boxes where teachers and students can navigate directly to specific content libraries: daily lessons, writing prompts, quizzes, media, and contests. There's also a row of content categories that organize resources aligned to particular subjects.

The Learning Network is a place built to support student critical thinking and to privilege students' voices. In fact, there's an entire area dedicated to inviting student responses. Young people have accepted this challenge, as evidenced by the active conversation on the site. It's remarkable to see students develop real-world news literacy skills as students read and discuss world class journalism with peers. This is unlike a lot of other "kids news" sites that create a simulation of newspapers (often with poor quality stories that are little more than summaries of news) just meant to be consumed.

Beyond the student discussion, there's so much content -- much of it regularly updated -- that teachers will have to determine their priorities. There's just no way to teach it all. This means, however, that there'll likely be something for just about any topical need -- not to mention trustworthy context for trending/current stories. It's a site with several opportunities to create ongoing routines in the classroom, whether you teach one of the lessons every week, use the writing prompts to drive student journaling, or start off a period with the word of the day.

The lessons themselves do a good job of presenting an unbiased perspective on stories, but still educators might want to bring in other viewpoints from other outlets to round out lessons. It'd also be nice to see more ready-to-implement takeaway assets -- like graphic organizers -- that'd save teachers time translating the lessons into workable resources for students.

Overall Rating

Engagement
There's a nice mix of media, but still a lot of it could feel dry to students. The daily content means topics connect to things students might be talking about.
Pedagogy

The range of info about current events is expansive. Varied content from daily lessons to writing prompts to quizzes and contests. Lessons aren't heavy-handed.

Support

Curated collection of "accessible lessons." Design is very friendly to different types of learners and abilities. Webinars help get teachers oriented. Downloadable templates would help implementation.


Common Sense reviewer

Community Rating

(See all 6 reviews) (6 reviews) Write a review
Featured review by
Morgan H. , Classroom teacher
Classroom teacher
Brewer Community School
Brewer, United States
This site breaks down key articles written and offers teacher's a starting point from which to builid a classroom discussions or lessons.
This website would be most beneficial at the high school level. PROS: engaging, has suggested questions to go with articles that could be modified for the middle level, highlights current/important events, offers students multiple access points into nonfiction reading/responding CONS: website would be too loose to simply let students "explore", articles would need adult support as they are written above seventh grade level -Overall, this is a good resource for teachers looking to include more nonfict ...
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