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Reading: Accessible news websites for the classroom.

Posted in Literacy, Reading, and Uncategorized

Today’s post focuses on looking at news websites which are specifically focused on students. These sites could be used as independent reading activities, guided reading material, reciprocal reading or as a springboard for debates or inquiry topics.

Often in teaching, we are searching for reading texts that are not only authentic and topical, but ones which are at students decoding reading level. Many websites have great information but the vocabulary and the syntactic structure of the sentences make it difficult to read for a range of readers. But reading is also so much more than just being able to decode the words on the page it is about understanding.

It is about comprehending meaning from words, the pictures and how these portray a story, the spoken word and how the inflection in spoken language can influence us. The websites listed below allow for this multimodal approach to reading. The combination of audio, visual and linguistic information work together to show readers a holistic story. The benefits also include all students being able to access the meaning of the text regardless of just their linguistic written reading ability.

The use of these news sites can allow for rich discussions around critical literacy. How do the authors use vocabulary to persuade? How are images being used and why are they used in that way? Whose view is missing? Whose view is this? What might another perspective look like? What is the main idea? etc

These sites need to be used like any other reading event. As teacher’s we need to model and scaffold student understanding, not only how to understand the news itself, but also how to navigate the site, navigate the newspaper etc.

Behind the news –
This is a very popular site with a wealth of excellent resources, from videos to news articles. This site is specifically designed for students. Teachers can subscribe to the weekly email newsletter which has contain ideas for using the news in your classroom. The site also has tutorials for creating your own news stories, and your students have the ability to submit their own reports on the website.

The Herald Sun –
This site even divides the news into reading levels making it much easier for both teachers and also students to decide what children are able to access. What I love is that there is also an audio file for every news story.

Crinkling news:
This is an Australian newspaper which has been specifically written for kids ( aimed at 7-14 year olds). The newspaper os published once a week and you can have a digital or paper copy. On the site, there are videos and additional content which children can access. There is even an opportunity for students to contribute their own news reports which will be printed.

Science News for students – ( suitable for upper primary and secondary)
This site has a wealth of new science information. Articles have readability scores, sound files attached so students can also listen to the story and videos. At the bottom of each article is a list of ‘power words (Glossary). A wealth of information.

National Geographic for kids –
I love the multimodal resources on this site. It has written news stories, videos, and audio. It also offers lots of opportunities to teach a wide variety of genres including informational texts, persuasive texts, jokes, and quizzes. There is a section where you can download free resources. Great to use for guided reading groups.

There are a lot of international children’s news sites, for the US, UK, and NZ. Including Scholastic news online, Time for kids, Student news daily, news-o-matic app, Kiwi kids news, DOGO news, Teaching kids……

A great book to support teaching the genre of newspaper news is ‘The Shaggy Gully Times’ (fiction) by Jacquie French and Bruce Whatley, which is a fun and engaging way to look at how the news can be presented in many different ways.

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