NAMLE Executive Director, Michelle Ciulla Lipkin recently asked Lillian Holtzclaw Stern, founder of Press4Kids, the scoop on News-o-matic. Here’s what she said.
Press4kids (P4K) was created in 2012 to fill a need of delivering current events to a young audience in an engaging and age-appropriate manner. In today’s plugged-in world, children can no longer be spared from the news, so we decided to deliver a news experience that encourages global citizenship and daily reading of nonfiction.
P4K publishes News-O-Matic, the first interactive daily newspaper delivered on tablets for 1st to 5th graders. News-O-Matic explains, analyzes, and puts into age-appropriate perspective top local, national, and international news stories. Our editorial mission is to report current events to a young audience in a true, concise and educational manner, answering the need for high quality and interactive news publications for young readers. News-O-Matic is conceived for two target groups. We target children to help them discover the world around them, become global citizens, and read on a daily basis, at home or at school. We also target educators by providing them the best tools to correlate with their curriculum and to support individualized learning. Our content aligns with the Common Core State Standards and offers an excellent source of nonfiction reading.
News-O-Matic publishes five articles daily, covering relevant news of the day in an engaging way, exploring the many facets of a story through images, maps, videos and games. Technology allows News-O-Matic to put kids at the center of the news, making them feel engaged through multiple levels of interactivity. Kids are given a voice. They can rate the articles, ask questions, and submit drawings. We publish drawings every day and answer questions, encouraging kids to revisit the app daily. To ensure emotional safety, every article is reviewed and vetted by our child psychologist.
News-O-Matic School Edition is used in the classroom. Thousands of students already use News-O-Matic for nonfiction literacy and social studies learning. The app allows teachers to choose reading levels by student, add open-ended customized assessment questions to the multiple choice questions provided daily by our teacher expert, analyze students reading and comprehension through an analytical dashboard, chat real-time with the classroom and much more. Thanks to its “read to me” feature, News-O-Matic becomes the perfect resource to learn English or Spanish. The app is also gaining popularity among Special Education teachers, who claim students can always find something they like to read and discuss.
Every article is written from scratch by an editorial team composed of journalist and educators. We pay close attention to the type of questions children want answered. The fact that a child psychologist vets every article ensuring it’s content is emotionally age-appropriate provides the security parents and educators want.
Since the News-O-Matic launch in June 2013, we have received more then 100,000 notes from kids (Ask Russ) and drawings (Draw It) and we receive thousands of article ratings per day. We have close to 30,000 interactions with our readers per week! Through their comments we can feel the pulse of their interest and provide them with what they are looking for in news.
In my view, education is the most important thing in a society. To ask questions is not only healthy but it is the only way of truly learning. My daily goal through News-O-Matic is to awaken the curiosity of a young audience. Our Ask Russ and Draw It features exemplify what happens when inquisitive minds engage in complex thinking. They go far!
Our mission is to be the trusted news source for children and engage our readers in the world around them. We are happy to see it become reality everyday!