News-O-Matic for School, is a news app for children. Each day it publishes five articles on current events from around the world. These articles are written to be accessible and informative to children. The app also features additional facts and visual content, including videos to support the articles.
For a news delivery app, whether aimed at children or not, there will be two main components by which its success can be measured: the quality of the articles and the quality of the delivery mechanism (the app structure).
News-O-Matic’s articles are excellent. The language is well judged to be accessible to a wide range of abilities while not being so simplistic that it feels too childish for older children. A particularly nice touch is that words judged to be difficult in some way, either meaning or pronunciation, are highlighted and a simple tap produces a definition and the sound of the word.
Each story has a few additional features. The best of these provides a geographical context by displaying a map of the world and various ways of measuring the distance from the child to the location of the article’s events. The others are a Fact button which gives an additional fact and an Act button which suggests something the child might do based on the article. Another great feature is letting children interact with the Editor-in-Chief Russell Kahn by rating the stories, sending their drawings or just asking questions about the news topics.
The articles cover 8 categories: World, U.S., Wacky, Kids in the News, Sports, Arts, Animals and Discovery. Even though there are only five new articles per day, young readers can also access the 5 past editions any given day. As the app is used internationally, it is inevitable that some stories are just not of the same relevance in all countries. Even though there has been some interest in covering international events, in sports and entertainment particularly, the localised interest of different countries can mean significant omissions or inclusions of little relevance outside of the app’s home country of the U.S.
The app itself delivers the articles effectively. By necessity, due to its continually fresh content, it does pull in a lot of its content from the internet so it can seem a little less responsive than some apps where the content is all contained within the app. The design of the app is centred on an individual user rather than a shared device in a school library. Users give their name and geographic location to the app so that they can communicate with the news desk, ask questions, send pictures, make comments and so on. This is an excellent feature and schools could use their emblem as an avatar when the app is used in libraries. News-O-Matic needs access to Internet so schools with a widespread Wi-Fi network will be able to successfully use the app.
The app does have a few simple games that may work as occasional distractions, but do feel a little tacked on and are not particularly polished.
This is an app that fulfils a good educational role. Engaging children with the world and its news is something that many of our exams based education systems struggle with. By providing a succinct and interesting way for children to access the news, it increases the chances of a lifelong engagement with the world in which the children live.
From the Developer
Whether your students enjoy reading about sports, science, world news, or wacky events, News-O-Matic delivers what’s making the news! Our mission is to make learning more engaging, active, and personal.
This nonfiction reading comprehension app publishes five news stories each weekday! The stories range in length and difficulty to create opportunities for differentiated instruction. Readers learn what happened on this date in history through an educational game and write or draw to Editor-in-Chief Russ in the News Room. Each edition gives you access to a Teacher’s Guide.
Each daily edition features:
- Five dynamic news articles
- Rich and detailed images, videos, and illustrations
- Informative maps relating the user to the location of every story
- News Room for drawing or asking questions about the news
- An interactive history-based timeline
- Puzzles, games, fun facts, and many other elements for discovery
- Audio support for challenging vocabulary and full stories read aloud
- Improved design
- Multiple Lexile reading levels
- Custom assessment questions
- Bilingual articles (English and Spanish)
- Bilingual Read to Me (English and Spanish)
- Save or print articles
- Highlight text
- Access to 10 past editions
- IOS 8 compatible
News-O-Matic is 100% ad-free.
Written by experienced journalists and educators, News-O-Matic is used in schools around the world! All articles are reviewed by a child psychologist before publication to ensure emotionally safe content.
The News-O-Matic Teacher’s Guide includes questions related to the text and suggested discussion prompts. It provides ideas and activities to serve as a springboard to enrich learning. Each Teacher’s Guide contains several assessment questions correlated to the Common Core State Standards, along with a graphic organizer.