Sunday, March 3, 2019

Five Good Places to Find Current Events Stories for Kids

For a couple of years I taught an elective that was all about current events. That was one of my favorite social studies teaching assignments because I enjoy listening to what students have to save about the news. CNN Student News was one of my go-to resources when I was teaching that current events course. Today, CNN Student News is called CNN 10. CNN 10 provides good, short overviews of the previous day's important new stories. Unfortunately, CNN 10 doesn't offer the discussion question sheets that CNN Student News did.

Here are some other good places to find news stories that written and produced for classroom use. 

DOGOnews is a student news site that features articles for K-8 students. DOGOnews covers current events stories in the areas of science, sports, entertainment, and variety of topics that fall under the banner of social studies. Teachers can find stories by browsing the categories, filtering by grade level, or filtering by grade level.

Youngzine is a great service that provides teachers with current events articles written for classroom use. I first used the site in 2012 and it has only gotten better in the seven years since then. Youngzine articles feature a mix of news, sports, and entertainment stories for elementary school students. A new edition is published weekly. Most articles on Youngzine are accompanied by a supporting video. Articles that reference locations include a map so that students can quickly identify the setting for a story. All articles are accompanied by critical thinking prompts for students. Those prompts can be used in Youngzine online classrooms created by teachers.

Smithsonian TweenTribune offers articles written for students in grades five through eight. A version for older students is available as TeenTribune. A version for K-4 is available as TT Junior. All articles are accompanied by Lexile score label.

PBS NewsHour Extra is a good site for middle school and high school students. The site offers a searchable database of articles. A searchable database of lesson plans is also available on PBS NewsHour Extra.

How to Create Featured Blog Posts

A couple of weeks ago, in anticipation of the Edublogs Student Blogging Challenge, I updated my chart of recommended classroom blogging tools. If you're participating in the blogging challenge, you might find yourself wanting to feature a post at the top of the blog. This could be a post that contains important information about the classroom blog or it could be the most outstanding post of the week that you want to make sure everyone sees when landing on the blog's homepage. Either way, Blogger and Edublogs offer a "featured blog post" setting that you can enable. Watch this short tutorial to learn how it works on both platforms.

Getting Started With the Smithsonian Learning Lab

The Smithsonian Learning Lab allows teachers to create and search for documents, images, videos, interactive animations, and lesson plans from a wide range of Smithsonian-hosted resources. It also lets you create collections to share with others as well as create assignments to give to your students. The video playlist embedded below teaches you how to collect, customize, and share collections of resources in the Smithsonian Learning Lab.

Applications for Education
The Smithsonian Learning Lab's collections feature on its own is great, but the collections are better when you can share them with others. In the Smithsonian Learning Lab you can create a classroom. Students join your classroom by entering the password that you choose for your classroom. Once students have joined your classroom you can share resources with them. You can also distribute assignments to students through your Smithsonian Learning Lab classroom.

Saturday, March 2, 2019

Six New G Suite Features for Teachers and Students

Every month Google adds new features to G Suite. Some features only matter to administrators and some features only matter to business users. The complete list of new features is always available on the G Suite Updates blog. If you don't want to scroll through that blog, here's a summary of the new features that could matter to teachers and students.

Google Has Improved Access to G Suite Accessibility Settings

One of the new G Suite features that was announced in February was an improvement in the way you can access the accessibility settings in Google Docs, Slides, and Sheets. The accessibility settings themselves aren't new. What's new is the location of the settings. The accessibility settings are now found under the "Tools" drop-down menu in Google Docs, Slides, and Sheets.

Improving the accessibility settings of the accessibility settings is an excellent improvement for those who need the accessibility options. Based on the number of emails I get about G Suite accessibility, the previous location of the accessibility settings was not easy for a lot of teachers to find.

It's important to note that the new location of the accessibility settings has already started to appear in some G Suite accounts but will take a couple of weeks to be fully rolled-out to all users.