App Review

News-O-Matic Daily For Schools, 2013-14

Excellent, interactive daily news source focused on kids ages 7-10

  • Five new feature stories delivered to the iPad each school day.

  • Experience the story through kid-friendly content and bright images.

  • Fun extras, like maps, help kids look at the news from different angles.

  • Extension ideas and questions encourage kids to keep learning going.

  • Puzzles, games, and timelines provide extra activities.

Review
Pros: With only five news stories posted each day, students can focus on each one in an in-depth way.
Cons: The ability to share opinions in the app is limited to submitting questions or drawings to the editor and giving stories a star rating.
Bottom Line: Students can learn about what’s happening in the world in an engaging way from a high-quality news source.
Learning Scores
Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?

Students who like learning about current events will find this app highly engaging, fun, and easy to use. For kids who are not into news, the games and extension activities may boost engagement.

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

Learning about current events is an integral part of the experience. The information in the articles, maps, history-based timelines, and other features on this app can help kids in other classroom studies, conversations, and life situations.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students? 4

Excellent extension activity suggestions. Lots of data within the articles about the events or issues, but no data about kids' usage (such as number of articles viewed, time on the app, etc.).

Our Review
What's It Like?

News-O-Matic, Daily for Schools 2013-2014. Literacy & Nonfiction Reading is a daily news and activity app for kids in grades 2 to 4. Teachers and kids can read five current events articles daily, find related activities, rate articles, and send comments or questions to the editor. Topics include everything from sports in Alaska to regional bug infestations. General interest articles cover topics like kid-friendly science discoveries, careers, and more. A child psychologist reviews the articles for age-appropriateness, and each day teachers get a Teacher's Guide via email that has discussion questions, assessment questions correlated to a Common Core standard, and more. A "Read to Me" feature allows kids to hear stories via a narrator as an alternative to reading them, which may be especially useful for kids who need extra support. Kids and teachers can look forward to new articles each day of the school year.

Is It Good For Learning?

News-O-Matic, Daily for Schools 2013-2014 is an exceptional resource for helping kids get interested in current events. From listening to how the word "hello" is spoken where a story happened, to viewing the distance between the story and your school's location, kids learn how to think about news from many angles. The more than 15 features (stories, puzzles, games, timelines, a rating system, maps, and more) encourage kids to stay informed on a daily basis. Kids also must think critically about what they're reading, and dig deep into learning more. The "Read to Me" feature can assist kids in learning to correctly pronounce uncommon, subject-specific vocabulary related to news topics, including geographic place names (such as cities and countries), science terms, and more. The bright visuals, concrete ways to interact with the stories -- rating them and writing to the editor -- and the extra content for teachers make this a standout news resource for classrooms.

How Can Teachers Use It?

News-O-Matic, Daily for Schools 2013-2014 is an excellent way to incorporate daily current events into your classroom, while integrating Common Core standards into the topics within current events. If you read an article as a class together, encourage your students to rate it together as a group, and debate why it receives their positive or negative rating. Choose a kid each day to send a comment or question about an article to the editor. For students not as interested in news, consider encouraging them to interact with the app via the games, puzzles, and fun facts. Be sure to check out the separate Teachers Guide for questions related to the articles, scope and sequence, and suggested discussion questions.

This review of News-O-Matic Daily For Schools, 2013-14 was written by

Field Notes
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Mary Ann S. Emerson Elementary School Berkeley, CA
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