Friday, June 24, 2011
Teaching Kids News by Joyce Grant
It turns out we vastly underestimated their interest!
Each week I brought in a stack of newspaper clippings and talked about them with the class. We followed a couple of major breaking stories (the G20 summit, the oil spill) and we also talked about interesting or funny stories that would crop up during the week. It might be anything from the discovery of a new species to a space shuttle launch.
The kids actively participated in the weekly sessions, wanting to share their own knowledge about the news stories and also wanting to know more. Pretty soon, kids’ parents were coming up to us saying, “My son just explained to me what’s happening at the G20!”
That weekly media lesson sparked an idea for a website. What if we brought kids the news in kid-friendly and –appropriate language? It would encourage kids to read, because they desperately want to know what’s going on in the world. It would also encourage parents to read with their children.
My son’s teacher, Jonathan Ophek, added the final, brilliant piece of the puzzle: what if we added “curriculum connections” to each article, so teachers could use each day’s article right in the classroom? Teachers would be covering the curriculum using current news events pulled from today’s headlines.
So Teaching Kids News was born.
The site began in September 2010 and was relaunched in its current form in January 2011. We haven’t done much marketing of the site yet, but already more than 1,000 teachers and parents use the site every day. Some days, particularly when big news is breaking, we get more than twice or three times that number. (Our biggest day has been over 6,000 individual users.)
Our goal is to get kids reading, and we think that by bringing them news that is not only easy for them to read but put into “context” for them, we’re able to do that. At the same time, Teaching Kids News provides instant lesson plans for teachers and parents who are home-schooling their kids.
And as one CBC reporter said, TKN’s politics section is a great place to brush up on what’s happening in the world—for anyone, kid or adult!
Joyce Grant is a journalist and owner of Teaching Kids News, http://www.teachkidsnews.com/. She also blogs at Getting Kids Reading, http://www.gkreading.com/.