Quote of the Month

When love and skill work together, expect a miracle. John Ruskin

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Stay Current With The News

One of our most important and challenging tasks is making our students feel a part of the international community.  Despite all the connectivity afforded by technology, it seems distractions and commitments outside the school building and the lack of any information resources (including print materials) in numerous homes, weigh heavily in keeping our students from expanding their knowledge of world people and events.  This makes it all the more important to select the right print, non-print and virtual content to help them be the best possible members of society.

Youngzine - News & more for the youngAt the 2013 American Library Association Annual Conference & Exhibition, the American Association of School Librarians selected Youngzine under the Standards for the 21st-Century Learner category, Curriculum Collaboration, 1.3.4 Contribute to the exchange of ideas within a learning community, 3.1.2 Participate and collaborate as members of a social and intellectual network of learners, 3.1.4 Use technology and other information tools to organize and display knowledge and understanding in ways that others can view, use, and assess and 4.3.1 Participate in the social exchange of ideas, both electronically and in person.  This website, free to use, provides a secure means for the presentation of current events in a variety of areas as well as a format for young users, their teachers and their parents to submit writing.  Comments made and articles submitted by all users are moderated by Youngzine. In their About section it is stated:

Our goal is to help parents and educators create a vibrant community of globally aware young citizens in an increasingly connected world.  Along with news stories written specifically with our young audience in mind, Youngzine strives to inform using fun trivia, compelling visuals and videos.

When first accessing the site in the upper right-hand corner users can read all about the site, what others have to say regarding what the site offers, provide feedback and login.  Below this along the top is a toolbar listing a map of the various pages, Home, World News, Science & Tech, Our Earth, Society & Arts, U Write, Play Zine, Classrooms and Search.  The remainder of the home page is a series of panels featuring:

  • News Flash!
  • This Week
  • U Write
  • Contests
  • Videos
  • Recent Comments
  • Latest From Around The World (map pinpointing areas of interest)
  • Icons for sharing via email, Facebook, Twitter and through a news feed
When each of the pages is opened, some of those original columns still remain with the addition of new items.  The largest central panel still scrolls through recent events of interest but focuses on the specific area selected.  The World News page has included a This Time In History feature.  A Did You Know? spot is added to the Science & Tech page.  Our Earth asks users about animal travel and travel in general.  You are invited to review various forms of media and suggest book recommendations on the Society & Arts page.  

The interactive options on the U Write invite participation on several different levels with some special items.  In the center a slide show highlights recent U Writes.  The number of comments made about each one is shown in parentheses. Off to the right side users can enter a chat area for children only plus submit jokes in their own words.

Three separate areas below this allow registered children to submit pictures, videos and art, writings and reviews.  In each box a question is asked and answered by clicking on it.  It tells you that Youngzine welcomes all forms of writing, images and video.  It asks parents and teachers who wish to submit to the site to use the Feedback form.  Keep in mind everything is moderated.

At Play Zine you can participate by reading comics or a daily Ripley's Believe It Or Not, watch videos, play games (more than 80) and select from the regular options shown on previous pages such as Recent Comments, Chatter, and Contests.  One extra box shows the usernames of those with the highest points and badges earned.  Points and badges can be earned by registered users for writing an article, taking quizzes, participating in contests, and reading, rating and commenting on recent articles.
The final tab, Classroom, is an educators' goldmine.  When you register at Youngzine as a teacher, each added class gets a special code.  You can follow individual student work at the site.  Each class gets their own blog so you and your students can exchange information.  Suggestions on how to use this feature are listed.  

There is a separate feature, Search Lesson Plans, which ties into the Curriki website.  Teaching options can be looked for by grade level, subject area, and type such as exercise, unit, lesson plan and games.  

The last choice on the right is for searching the site using a keyword.  Every page at the bottom gives users the chance to read more about Youngzine on their blog, in the FAQ, Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.  The FAQ is very complete.  One important point is the content on Youngzine is updated once every two weeks.  

Here is a snapshot of the form needed to be completed by any age user.  Once a teacher is registered classes can be added.

With much talk by colleagues this past year and more recently who desire to bring blogging into their classrooms, Youngzine seems like a fantastic solution.  It offers a variety of combinations for use by students, teachers and parents.  This format connects students with one another inside and outside the walls of the classroom into educational communities on a global level.  I give a gold star to Youngzine and the AASL committee for their selection of this website.

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