ELA | Feature

3 Free Ways to Bring the News Into Your Classroom

New Common Core and state standards require students to read and comprehend more nonfiction than in years past. To help engage your students with relevant readings, here are three free ways you can integrate the day's news into your classroom.

Channel One News
This freebie website delivers a video news show with a handful of current stories appropriate for viewing by learners in upper elementary through high school grades. Additional teacher resources provide talking points to help students with critical thinking skills. Downloadable broadcast transcripts give them timely exposure to nonfiction reading material. Channel One is sponsor-based, so expect at least a couple of brief commercials during each day's segment.

Newsela
This daily news site pulls content from major publications, gives students free access to nonfiction and tests their comprehension. Every article is available at five reading levels, includes quizzes to test critical thinking and close reading and covers multiple topics each day. A "Pro" edition adds teacher features such as student and class progress tracking, the ability to individualize the assignments and a mechanism for communicating with students on articles via annotations. The Pro edition is $18 per student each year, $2,000 for a grade and $6,000 for a school. Alfred Solis, director of innovation for the Buck Institute for Education, said that Newsela is the kind of site that provides an "entry event." Entry events, he explained, "are intended to get kids thinking...maybe there's a great current event or article that you could use to start them thinking about something." And the ability to change the reading level helps a teacher "make sure all students feel comfortable reading" whatever has been assigned.

TweenTribune
Here's a handy source for kid-friendly nonfiction reading material organized by grades: K-4, 5-8 and 9-12. Readings are also available in Spanish. Professional journalists and others create the content, which is updated on weekdays to keep it fresh. The site is advertising-supported. Teachers who register get access to site-generated quizzes for the articles and can have their students comment on articles by responding to "critical thinking challenges" (though those same teachers approve the comments before they go live). If the comment count is any indication of classroom interest, recent winning stories have shown students how to win at rock-paper-scissors, profiled a teen trying to take a selfie with a squirrel that responded by crawling under his shirt and grabbing onto his back, and shared President Obama's response to the idea of deporting Justin Bieber. (Commented one reader: "...I do not think he deserves to be deported. I think this is just a phase and that he'll hopefully get over this soon.")

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a writer who covers technology and business for a number of publications. Contact her at dian@dischaffhauser.com.

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