News-O-Matic and Pear Deck Team Up to Inspire a Love of Daily Reading
In today’s ever-connected world, media literacy and global awareness are essential skills for students. That’s why Pear Deck has partnered with News-O-Matic to help teach K-8 students about the media landscape and the world around them — and inspire a love of nonfiction reading along the way! These ten ready-to-teach lessons can help your students build 21st-century skills through interactive daily news content.
We spoke with News-O-Matic Chief Content and Education Officer Russell Kahn for a deeper look at these exciting new lessons, and learn how News-O-Matic teaches literacy through global news content.
Hi Russell! To start, can you tell us a little more about News-O-Matic for those who might not be familiar?
News-O-Matic works to inspire K-8 students to learn about their changing world daily — and develop a love of nonfiction literacy. News-O-Matic publishes new editions every weekday, 52 weeks per year, to encourage students to develop a daily reading routine. Every article (at every reading level) is read out loud by real people, so students can follow along as they develop their listening skills.
But we don’t just give students a safe space to learn current events; News-O-Matic provides an opportunity for young people to express themselves in a controlled environment. We encourage kids to react to the news by asking questions, sharing comments, voting in polls, and even drawing pictures through our platform as an outlet.
You mention one of News-O-Matic’s goals is to inspire a love of daily reading. Why is daily reading so essential for students?
Reading every day sets students up to learn every day. It sounds simple, but it’s true: By reading daily, kids gain exposure to new ideas, new interests, new concepts, new cultures, and even new worlds. The diverse exposure from daily reading can introduce young people to professions they might otherwise not know to exist. And, of course, daily reading is directly connected to vocabulary acquisition, a key indicator of college and career success. In short: Students who read daily become more thoughtful adults.
News-O-Matic also helps teach students “21st-century skills.” Can you expand on what these skills are and why they’re essential?
Children are growing up in a media literacy crisis. With the bombardment of information from so many sources, it’s even a challenge for adults to make sense of what to trust. News-O-Matic is part of the solution to transform young people into media-literate citizens. Every article lists complete sources and citations so students can see where their information comes from. News-O-Matic is the first exposure to news for many students; we want to ensure that this generation can grow up ready for the 21st century.
We’re so excited for teachers and students alike to experience our Pear Deck + News-O-Matic content. Can you tell us more about these lessons and how they’re designed to engage students?
We cover topics we know are drivers to reading for kids, like animals, sports, space science, tech, and entertainment. Even the design draws students into the story; full-screen visuals invite young readers to dive deeper. The articles in the lessons are crafted to appeal to even the most reluctant reader. Reading is supposed to be fun, and our team works to make every article interesting and entertaining. The Pear Deck lessons then place these articles into a simple, student-friendly format for the classroom. The Decks help transform more News-O-Matic content each week into active learning experiences for students of all abilities.
This collection covers a broad range of topics related to current global events. How do you decide which subjects to include in these lessons?
Our responsibility to students is to provide neutral, informative, and timely stories to encourage them to keep reading more. As we select topics, our team discusses the appeal to students and the educational purpose the articles will serve. News-O-Matic even employs an on-staff child psychiatrist, Dr. Phyllis Ohr, from Hofstra University. Dr. Ohr vets the News-O-Matic content to ensure every word is developmentally appropriate and sensitive for kids of all ages and backgrounds.
Naturally, we also want to be sure that the content we’re covering connects to the curricula taught in the classroom. Teachers can search for standard-aligned content by state, subject, and grade to find applicable News-O-Matic content.
Do you have any tips for incorporating daily News-O-Matic reading into classroom lessons?
Many educators choose to begin their school day by reviewing the latest News-O-Matic headlines. Even scanning the top stories is a powerful way to connect students to the broader world. And because News-O-Matic publishes 100% new content every weekday all year long, it’s also an invaluable resource for students after the classroom closes. There’s no wrong way to incorporate News-O-Matic into the classroom!
Talking to children about current events can seem intimidating on the surface. Why do you think it’s important children learn about these topics in a nuanced and appropriate way?
Students are naturally curious about their world, but they should be free to form their own opinions free from bias. While some grown-ups may consume media content that aligns with their existing viewpoints, children deserve an introduction to journalism that can be trusted. Traditional news sites rely on clicks or viewership to drive advertising revenue. Many news sites also lean into stories that create fear or anxiety in the reader or viewer. On the contrary, the News-O-Matic mission is to educate its young audience in a calm, age-appropriate way.
As a parent myself, I understand the instinct to want to avoid discussions about current events. But if we choose not to engage students in honest conversations about the news, our efforts to “protect” them will do more harm. Kids deserve the opportunity to understand their changing world; our mission is to create a resource to help them make sense of it safely and securely.
Explore the collection of Pear Deck lessons built with News-O-Matic and download copies to get started! Look for new Decks every week to raise students’ awareness of global affairs and encourage daily reading habits.