Nowadays, children are far more concern about their cartoons or video games than they are about actuality. It is not something on which we should blame them; newspaper and the news are designed for a much more mature audience. Nonetheless, it is important for them to know what is happening around the world; or only to have some reading that are not only about fictional characters. With children being born with technology in their hands, they now have the opportunity to read the news adapted for them on News-O-Matic School Edition!
News-O-Matic is a newspaper paid-subscription app adapted for children. Five new stories are published per day, which are written by experts and reviewed by a child psychologist. It offers a “read to me option” for the children with reading problems. Basically, what it means is that it allows children with reading problems to have a recording of a voice reading with them the news. It also has a location service, which tracks where is the reader. With that function, they took care of adding a silly distance tracker. For instance, there was a story about the Vatican and it would calculate the distance in pope hats between the reader and Vatican city. In addition to that, it proposes 15 features like stories, maps, discussions, timelines, a rating system, puzzles, some games like Hangman, labyrinths, and more. Moreover, they added some very interesting interactive content. Children can send messages or drawings to the authors of the articles. It is a great opportunity for them to practice their English as well as to practice their critical thinking. Most of all, it makes them feel valued and allows them to feel more interpellated by the newspaper. In Quebec, where English is a second language, it would fit most for the four, five, or six graders or elementary schools.
teacherswithapps‘s first thought about News-O-Matic is: “In my ten years of teaching, I have never come across a publication that was this effective in capturing the attention of the students, making them want to learn and understand more.” (Layla B) It is pretty self-explanatory. They say the app is amazing for teachers because each article is labeled with a precise lexile level and includes comprehension questions and graphic organizers. It is a great app for morning questions, small reading groups, themed discussion groups, writing assignments, and curriculum units. They also took care to justify reasons why the app is not free; simply because it is ad-free and its team contains many specialists and professionals. They conclude their article with a quotation of the Co-Founder, Lillian Holtzclaw Stern, which I found interesting: “We created News-O-Matic to provide kids with a news resource that they can read and understand and that satisfies their curiosity about the current event throughout the world.”
Graphite also reviewed the app. In their opinion, stories chosen are of high interest and appropriate for their target audience. They think it is an exceptional source to get kids interested in the news. They also think that the bright visuals, special ways to tell the stories, and extra content makes this app a must tool if you want your students to get in touch with what happens around the world. The only reproach they would give News-O-Matic is that some articles are very brief and are not deep enough. Also, in these articles, few sources are included, which renders the task harder if anybody would want a deep conversation on their topics. Other than that, they have a very high opinion of News-O-Matic.
As an ESL teacher, this app is very interesting for many reasons. I definitely feel that children in the second and third cycle in elementary schools should be a little more aware of what happens around the world. So, I think it would be an excellent opportunity to make them like reading the news as well as practicing their English. With five new stories every, every children can definitely find one he or she wants to read. If I would have a class that each child has his or her own iPad/tablet, I would ask them to read news when they come in in the morning and in the afternoon. Then, we could discuss some of the articles altogether. However, since it is more likely that we only one tablet or so per classroom, I would offer the possibility to read for students who finish first. Since the display is pretty big, I would leave up to three students read a news (and if they are not interested in reading the same, others could have other enrichment activity to do). The only downside being its paid-subscription; even though it is not expensive. However, considering all the pros, I would definitely give it a go despite its price!
To conclude, News-O-Matic is a great app to have if you are teaching at the elementary level and you are willing to spend few bucks a months. It will surely develop an interest in your students for a topic or an other. Not only teachers should be interested to this app, but parents too! If you are looking for a way to make your students/children read, it could be the solution.