NewsCurrents

Website review by
Erin Brereton, Common Sense Media
NewsCurrents Website Poster Image
Great tool for news knowledge that's best for classroom use.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this website.

Educational Value

Current events, geography, civics, other subjects. Regular features offer information about historical events and a select country. Reading experience, plus places, names, and vocabulary words. Articles provide background on topics; some relate issues to larger context. Discussion questions offer chance to express opinion. An educator will likely need to provide access, some help understanding some concepts, but weekly guide has elements to help with comprehension (e.g., maps, photos, charts, other visuals).

Positive Messages

Kids are encouraged to discuss what they read and learn about the world around them.

Violence & Scariness

War, other violent incidences occasionally mentioned, but in context of current events. No violence explicitly shown.

Sexy Stuff

When sexual assault is mentioned in a news story, the topic is handled respectfully. Nothing explicit's shown.

Language
Consumerism

The site requires a paid subscription, but kids won't see any ads.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Any coverage is purely informational and doesn't encourage drug or alcohol use.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that NewsCurrents involves a cost; schools will pay between $99 and $289 for access to its weekly discussion guides, although they can sample the content for three weeks by signing up for a free trial. The content is tailored to three different comprehension levels and includes ample visuals to help explain things, in addition to questions, quizzes, and other elements to enhance learning. Although some video links lead to external sites like CNN.com, teachers control the experience, so kids won't come into contact with strangers or material they shouldn't see. There may be references to violence, sexual assault, or substance use, but none of the articles are explicit in their content or descriptions; details are presented objectively and factually.

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What's it about?

NEWSCURRENTS is a subscription-based publication designed for teachers to use in discussions with students in grades 3 to 12. During the school year, educators can view 34 issues online or get a weekly DVD via mail. Each issue includes basic, general, and advanced versions of articles on national and international news and developments in science, the arts, and other areas -- along with images and videos, sections highlighting a specific country and historical events, quizzes, and other educational elements.

Is it any good?

It's clear a considerable amount of thought went into this news-based publication's format. Written content on NewsCurrents is offered in three versions to help target kids' learning level; numerous elements have also been included to engage kids and drive home key concepts, including discussion sections, quizzes, and detailed charts and other imagery.

That said, the design isn't quite as strong as it could be. The layout and navigation are fairly simplistic and can feel a bit outdated, and the site really isn't something parents would review and share with their children. NewsCurrents was designed for teachers to explain current events by using the text to narrate as they show the provided visual elements to students. There are plenty of impressive extras to help educators facilitate that process. They can view a list of Common Core standards that correlate to each issue, for example, or download teaching ideas. But parents looking for a way to review and discuss recent national and international news at home may want to consider another site, such as the publisher's other current events-based offering, Read to Know Family, an online current events magazine created for kids in fifth grade or above.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about why news coverage is supposed to be fair and impartial. How can that affect the way you read the news?

  • How can kids tell if something is a valid news source? Discuss elements that indicate information is coming from a substantiated person or organization -- and signs it isn't.

Website details

  • Subjects: Language & Reading: discussion, reading, reading comprehension, using supporting evidence
    Social Studies: events, geography, global awareness, history, power structures, the economy, timelines
  • Skills: Thinking & Reasoning: analyzing evidence, asking questions, investigation, part-whole relationships, thinking critically
  • Genre: Educational
  • Pricing structure: Free to try, Paid

For kids who love news

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