Sunday, September 22, 2013

AASL Best Apps for Teaching and Learning: News-O-Matic (ages 7-10)

I often wonder about how to encourage my kids to learn more about current events. We don't watch the TV news in the evening the way my parents did, and I primarily read the newspaper online. At school, they read the Scholastic News but it doesn't really engage them. So I've been super-excited to see kids' reactions to a new app: News-O-Matic -- a daily news app for kids.

News-O-Matic, named one of the Best Apps for Teaching and Learning in 2013 by the AASL, presents the news specifically written for kids ages 7 to 10. It's an engaging, interactive digital newspaper for elementary school kids. Each day, they publish five articles on the day's news. My students feedback: two thumbs up!
Daily Reading for Kids
developed by Press4Kids
available for iPad
ages 7-10
app is free
weekly, monthly & annual subscriptions available
for schools $29.99 for one year (2013-2014)
The writers at News-O-Matic really understand kids. They know that kids want lots of funny, interesting news articles, along with some what adults might think of as "real news."

Take a look at a page from last week: it's fun, colorful and draws you right in with engaging images. They have mixed high-interest articles on sports with international events in Italy and Kenya.

News-O-Matic, September 17, 2013

Each news article is written specifically for kids by the Press4Kids writers. It's clear and engaging, but I particularly noticed how the articles are age-appropriate for elementary students. For example, you can see here that they write about national tragedies like the recent flooding in Colorado, but they focus on rescue attempts. Each article is reviewed by child psychologists before publication to ensure content is age-appropriate.

News-O-Matic releases a new issue each day. As a teacher, I subscribe to their PDF edition. My daughter will often say to me, "I want to check the news today." I'm happy as can be that she's wanting to read the news, even if she's drawn to the silly, goofy articles as much as the tragedies -- that's absolutely what I'd expect from a nine year old!

I've noticed that kids are much more drawn to this interactive news app than the traditional news flyers distributed in the classroom. They love the interactive map with quirky facts. They like being asked to rate articles. And the additional layers of photographs and videos are a big draw.

This app is one of the twenty five selected by the AASL Best Apps for Teaching and Learning, 2013. I have loved participating with this committee. If you're interested in apps, definitely check out their whole list of recommended apps!

I've been very impressed with Press4Kids' technical support as I've worked to get my apps working at my school site, dealing with the frustrations that web filtering can cause.

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