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MACE tech goodness: Free news sites for social studies teachers

It’s that time of year. The MACE tech conference in Manhattan opened its doors this morning and I’m loving it. It is about as nerdy a place as you can find – in a good way, of course. Just a lot of smart people getting together and sharing tech ideas / resources. I always learn so much and meet so many cool folks.

(Cody, my marketing boss at ESSDACK, would want me to mention our own very nerdy tech conference called Podstock. He would want me to let you know that Podstock is July 16-18 at the Old Town Conference Center in Wichita. He would also want me to share that early registration with a $50 discount ends June 1 and that the pre-conference is already about 75% full.

But it seems a bit weird to share information about our tech conference while I’m attending another tech conference, so I’ll probably just tell Cody that I did talk about Podstock held in Wichita on July 16-18 and hope he buys it.)

So the focus here is on the great sessions I get to attend and the ideas that I run across. I’ll share as much as can. Have fun!

First MACE Session:
Free Press, Really, Free Access to the News

Dan is a teacher in Abilene, Kansas and uses online news resources as part of his middle school instruction. Dan’s sharing four free sites that are designed specifically for kids. These are the sorts of tools that we need to sharing with our kids, especially in Kansas as part of the new standards requiring connections to contemporary events.

According to their own propaganda, DOGONews is

a next-generation online network empowering kids to engage with digital media in a fun, safe and social environment. The leading source for current events, news and non-fictional articles for kids and teachers.  Featuring award-winning content written for children, DOGOnews is rapidly becoming the de-facto favorite for language arts, science and social studies lesson plans in the classroom and current events homework help at home.

There are three main ways that kids and teachers can use DOGONews:

  • News
    Fun and inspiring current events and news from all around the world.  Written for and in some cases by children, NEWS keeps our audience abreast of current events around the world.  With thousands of news articles and new original content added daily, we are the leading online source of current events for students, teachers and schools.
  • Sites
    A single-stop destination to discover the best and most appropriate websites for kids.  Each site is carefully vetted and reviewed before it makes the cut.  With hundreds of websites reviewed, SITES is a great resource for kids, parents and teachers.
  • Maps
    An interactive way for younger readers to read news headlines geotagged on a world map.  Learn about the world and see where it’s happening.

Teachers can set up their own DOGONews page and create a very personalized learning experience for their kids.

One of the most powerful tools here are the teacher can select grade level specific news stories as well as stories in Spanish. So you have a lot of flexibility here. Stories are selected by professional journalists working closely with teens, tweens and teachers. Teens and tweens can post comments, with all comments moderated by their teachers before they are published. There are critical thinking questions at the end of each story and actual quizzes after many of them.

After creating an account, teachers create the student accounts. This allows kids to write comments / teachers to moderate comments, teachers can manage/track quizzes students take based on stories, and lets kids access a cool photo captioning tool. (This is a lot like the New York Times “What’s going on in this picture?” feature.)

Looks like a pretty useful tool.

CNN Student News
Pretty standard stuff here. Most of us know about this site – videos, transcripts, and other teacher tools. Click here to learn more about how to use CNN Student News in your classroom.

E-Star in Education
Dan used the digital version of the Kansas City Star to provide a quick way for kids to read the paper and download PDFs of articles for use on mobile devices. The site also gives you tools in different grade levels and subjects, lots of apps, and other useful resources.

Another site shared by session participants:

News ELA
A cool site that can be sorted by Lexile levels. Get a full description here.

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