Kid-friendly Current Events & Blogging

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Source.  Also a good read about giving your kids newspapers!

I was browsing the Washington State Superintendent of Public Instruction’s website where they lay out the tiers of technology integration and let me tell you, it’s got some great ideas laid out right there for the taking.  Essentially, a tier one teacher uses e-mail, organizes class data in a spreadsheet, etc. but doesn’t necessarily involve students in the technology.  Tier two involves activities such as writing a paper using a word processor, completing an online quiz, or making a powerpoint.  Tier three, however, is much more akin to the real-life technology applications of adult life — blogging, interacting with the global community, reading current events in an RSS feed, and more.  If we are focusing on making students college and career ready as our current national education goals state, then integrating technology at a tier three level is imperative.

I’ve talked about and referred back to edublogging many times now, but one more application that the technology tiers brought up for me was as a way to take on and respond to current events.  This seems easy enough, right?  But what about our youngest students?  Oftentimes the news makes me nervous and uneasy. I can’t imagine letting a child run wild on Al Jazeera English or CNN.com to gather info on new current events!  So what do we do?  When I was a student, we got weekly Scholastic newsletters that laid out current yet kid-friendly events.  We wrote in response to them on pencil and paper.  Now, as I am preparing to become a teacher, I can take that activity and bring it in to the 21st century.

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I have found that Scholastic News is still alive and well and maintains a web presence now.  Another useful resource that I have found is DOGO News.  DOGO News was started by a Bay Area mother who, like myself, found it difficult to find age-appropriate news online for her student.  The difference is, she made an amazing website out of it.  All of the stories have a vocabulary section where students can click on a word to see its definition, a Common Core section that gives CCSM-aligned activity ideas to accompany the lesson, and social media buttons to share the article via Facebook, Pinterest, e-mail, or Edmodo (more on Edmodo next week).

Why not make your students’ edublogs a place for them to write responses to current events?  Or to examine what that current event would be like from someone else’s perspective?  Or during a unit on Non-Fiction, students can use current events articles as inspiration for their own current event writing about an event in the community.  

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