Tuesday, April 30, 2013

From the Archives: The Tween Tribune and some ideas for classroom use

One of my colleagues and I were chatting one day about the uninterrupted 90 minute reading block required by the state of Indiana to all students in grades K-3 and in some schools continuing until grade 6. One of the goals is to align with the common core and introduce students to more real life informational texts.  As a high school teacher, I don't see a lot of the components of elementary so I always have questions, especially since my own two children are in elementary.  She shared with me that a large amount of her informational texts come from a site called The Tween Tribune, so of course I had to check it out.

The site is curated by journalists, teens and tweens (you know that awkward age before kids hit puberty but think they are cool- I have one myself.) It is updated daily with articles from across the globe that are of interest to kids between 8-18.   It reminds me a lot of an updated Channel One News with a more fascinating flare for the eye catching story.  It isn't all news, it is also lifestyle, culture, arts and even cute and fuzzy.  Kids can read the articles, which are updated daily and comment upon them!  The tabs across the top are age based so the students can select articles based on their age level, a junior tween, tween and teen.  The fantastic thing-  teachers can set up classes and see what their students do.

If you visit the site you see a large list of subjects that students can sift through to find articles.  I can already see a lot of interesting ideas for this one.

1.  Read an article and discuss it with the class. Have each student find an article of choice, read it and share the information with the class.  I believe part of the common core includes presentations, especially for some of the mid grades like 4-7.

2.  Read and comment.  The kids can read the articles and comment upon them on the site or to the teacher.

3.  Letter to the editor.  Older students can read articles and write reactions/ letters to the editor about what was read.  It can be a way to teach kids to be involved citizens and use their local media to inform the public.

4.  Home share.  Have the students read an article and take the information home and include parents in the evening task.  It could be a simple Q/A with their guardian about it.  Maybe have the listener write a quick note on an agenda?

5.  History Classes. Students could read articles relating to history and delve a little deeper into them.  The day I evaluated this page, there was an article about Betsy Ross having three husbands.  Now isn't that something kids would want to investigate a little?

6.  Science classes. There are tons of articles about animals, discoveries, etc.  It could be a quick start to class to have kids read one short article each day about something your class is studying. (Ex: in the classification section of the Biology class, maybe there is an article about a new species discovered.)

As a non English teacher, I am not as keen to ideas for something like this.  As a librarian and a journalist, I feel getting kids to read news is a huge part of growing up.  So many of them love to read news but don't.  Why not provide them the time to do some reading during a class or a block?  Every little bit of reading matters and making our students global citizens requires them to know more than what is in a book.

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