Draw kids into weekly news with powerful symbols and voice narration
What's It Like?
News-2-You is a symbols-based newspaper for special-needs students, and this app is its digital version. It includes the symbols system SymbolStix (also used in the augmentative and alternative communication app Proloquo2Go), along with audio voice narration. A new edition arrives in the online library for every week of the typical U.S. school year, and it covers current events topics like popular movies, sports, holidays, environmental issues, and more, many of which are aligned with Common Core standards. Recent editions include main topics like "Endangered Animals," "Edible Schoolyard," and "Mario Brothers." In addition to the articles, you'll find recipes, jokes, games, puzzles, related comprehension questions, and more. Teachers can purchase some editions or a subscription and share them with some or all students, via multiple user accounts. Once you've downloaded an edition to an iPad, the first page appears with a headline and article in symbols and words. Tap the headline and see the words highlighted and underlined as they're spoken, or press the Play tab at the bottom of the screen and the entire page plays automatically. Tap on the right arrow to move to the next page, and so on. A list icon connects users to all options in that edition. Tap on one, and the app flips to that page.
Teachers can customize News-2-You for each student, changing the voice to male or female, slower, faster, higher, or deeper. It's a remarkable way to help kids with special needs expand literacy skills, learn about the world, and get involved in the topics with discussion questions and activities. Along with Proloquo2Go, it's a powerhouse combo that can help all kids learn about current events, develop comprehension skills, and express themselves. Accessible articles, great activities.
Is It Good for Learning?
News-2-You is a fantastic way to bring social studies, current events, and other newsy tidbits to students with special needs as well as beginning readers. The symbols-based and voice-supported articles allow you to adjust to fit a student's unique needs. Since most kids love categorizing and organizing, this symbol system provides structure and predictability to words and ideas presented in the news stories. News-2-You may seem pricey, but its content is substantial and fun. This one-of-a-kind, accessible, useful resource for kids with special needs may also be useful for new readers, as well as kids who may not like reading about current events but love symbol systems.
How Can Teachers Use It?
Students can read the News-2-You stories alone, with their own unique voice and reading preferences set to their individual user account. Or teachers can read them to the entire class, repeating words, phrases, or main ideas that may be new or difficult. Discuss the articles together after, or allow students to work through the supplemental materials like jokes and questions individually, according to what interests them. The recipes can be a great idea for a classroom-wide activity, and the jokes (along with their symbolic explanations) can help spark discussions about double meanings in words and other quirks in the English language that may be difficult for some kids to conceptualize. The Sudoku and other puzzles are also good individual, quiet-time classroom activities for students.