Review by Patricia Monticello Kievlan, Common Sense Education | Updated November 2017

Xyza: News for Kids

Subscription-based, kid-friendly news site keeps kids up-to-date

Subjects & skills
Skills
  • Critical Thinking

Subjects
  • English Language Arts
  • Social Studies
Grades This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
5-9
Common Sense says (See details)
Teachers say (0)
Not yet reviewed

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Pros: Approachable language and tons of topics appeal to a range of interests and reading levels.

Cons: Stories aren't especially deep or detailed and they're missing authorship info and classroom support.

Bottom Line: It's a useful starting point to spark interest in the news and build awareness of current events, but not as ideal for teaching media literacy skills.

Most of Xyza's short articles are at a middle school reading level, and they can be used to consistently engage reluctant readers on subjects that interest them, like science, technology, or sports. Since there's limited free access, teachers will likely want to use their own account to print articles out to share with their classes. Many Xyza stories end by posing a question; use these prompts as a starting point for an in-class discussion that helps gauge reading comprehension and helps students grapple with important issues. Students could also access Xyza on an classroom computer station, find something they find interesting, and then write and share weekly critical responses to news articles that interest them. As an extension, challenge students to find related articles to their Xyza articles from a curated set of trustworthy news sources. What new info do these related articles provide? Finally, teachers could lean into the fact that Xyza articles usually don't cite an author or a source. Talk with students about how they can determine the reliability of a story and how to investigate online to learn more; check out our News and Media Literacy Toolkit for resources that can help.

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Xyza News for Kids is a subscription-based website that features kid-appropriate news articles on a range of timely topics. Users create a free trial account (kids will need permission of a parent) then select news topics they'd like to read (choices include science, technology, world, and government) and whether they would like to browse the website online or receive a snail mail or email newsletter. Kids can also become "Junior Reporters" after a 30-day free trial that features a limited number of daily articles, subscriptions range from $15 to $50 annually or in three- or six-month intervals. While the site is tuned to parents and at-home use, teachers can create an account and then share the resources with their students. 

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Xyza's goals are admirable; it's important to encourage kids to get in the habit of reading about current events and issues, and it's convenient that kids can sign up for an email newsletter to get a more customized feed of news stories that match their interests. Purely as a reading platform, Xyza is an option teachers will want to consider given the elegant design of the site and wide range of interesting articles on offer. However, the articles and features of this site, while great for developing a passion for reading and news, aren't as great of a match for developing strong media literacy skills. There aren't classroom-specific resources like discussion guides (although there are some question prompts), lessons, or adjustable reading levels. Moreover, most articles don't feature an author or a source, so it's difficult to understand where these stories come from and who wrote them -- whether from Xyza staff, journalists, or even kids since there's a "Junior Reporter Program." (This Junior Reporter Program, however, could be useful for teachers looking for authentic writing opportunities for news-junky students.) Plus, while it's good to connect kids to stories that match their interests, teachers will want to emphasize that students shouldn't limit their reading and information intake only to things they already know and like.

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Overall Rating
3

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?
4

With fun language and kid-friendly topics, this is an appealing way to get elementary and middle school students engaged with the news. 

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer?
3

While the site's editors seem to be choosy about the stories that appear on the site, there's no author or source information, both of which are key to helping kids build news literacy.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students?
3

It's great that you can choose to get your news via a web browser, your email, or a paper newsletter. Classroom support resources for teaching specific stories, or using the site, would be helpful.


Common Sense Reviewer
Patricia Monticello Kievlan Foundation/nonprofit member

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