This is Day 25 of 31 of the Slice of Life Writing Challenge by www.twowritingteachers.wordpress.com. I decided to focus on news websites for children today. Have you ever been checking email or online and then your eyes see a compelling news headline? I find that many times, I seek out other articles about the topic. I like to know what is going on in the world so that I can talk about current events or at least be knowledgeable about the events. There is something about being able to talk to others about a shared topic in the news that makes me feel connected to them. I watch the CBS Evening News or my local news station a couple of times a week, but sometimes feel that the images shown can be disturbing and cause alarm in children. There are some kid friendly news websites that present current events in a child friendly way to allow kids to be a part of the global conversation in the news. It is my hope to be able to expose my students to a variety of reading material to get them involved and invested in real topics that matter to our world. My Slice of Life Today will share three of my favorite kid news sites.
I have written before about the power of news in the lives of kids by discussing Class DOGO. I typically have my fourth and fifth graders read articles from the Class DOGO website and blog about them. I love the idea of asking about the central theme of the article and why they thought the author wrote about the event. They can describe their reasons for agreeing or disagreeing. Students can acquire new vocabulary words by reading the unfamiliar and challenging words from the Vocabulary list at the end of the article, seeking out the synonyms and antonyms of the vocabulary words and creating new sentences while using the vocabulary. There is always a picture and sometimes a You Tube Video to accompany each picture so students could select their favorite picture in the article and describe it in their own words. Some of the articles could prompt students to research other related topics and allow them to dig deeper into a topic. I have placed a link to the following article at the fifth grade tab at my school website:
This article describes special glowing balls that someone has designed to light up the typhoon affected area of the Phillipines. Bioluminescent plankton, which is found in the waters off the coast of the Phillipines, is being used to make the balls glow at night, providing light where there is no electricity. I look forward to sharing it with my fifth graders and having them describe ways that they would want to help others affected by a typhoon.
I have recently discovered a News app for kids called News-o-Matic. I have included some screenshots below of what this app has to offer. It is a daily news feed written in kid friendly language that describes current events. Some kids will love to read nonfiction and devour it as they open each article. They can even see how far they are on a map between their hometown and the town where the news event is located. There is a small subscription fee associated with this app, but it is well worth it. There is a tab that gives suggestions on what to do if the news disturbs you which is a nice feature to help kids process daily events that could possibly be upsetting. There are five new stories written about every day. Children can have the articles read aloud to them and draw or write in response to the articles. The Daily Teacher’s Guide includes Lexile reading levels, Common Core State Standards correlations, assessment questions, and graphic organizers. In addition, there are discussion prompts and comprehension questions to help reinforce a range of knowledge across academic subjects. Finally, I wanted to give attention to the Newsela website for kids. This website rewrites the same article in at least four different Lexile ranges. I like this because the teacher may want to have the entire class read about a topic but be able to personalize the reading more because she can assign a Lexile Level to each child based on her reading assessments. Students can open the website then click on the appropriate reading lexile level. All students can respond to writing prompts and discussion about the article but can read the level that is the best fit for each child. Take a look at the following link to see an interesting article on the benefits of dark chocolate and click on the various Lexile Levels to experience differences in text that you will see on screen: https://www.newsela.com/articles/chocolate-health/id/3147/
Teachers have to enroll in a free account with Newsela and give their class a code to get into the site to read articles.
I love that kids can access news and be able to explore nonfiction closely through the news websites that I have shared today. Tapping in to the interests of students is paramount to encouraging them to want to read and comprehend text. Class Dogo, News-o-Matic and Newsela each provide their own unique way to present current events to children. I hope you will check them out!