News-O-Matic + Main Idea = Engaging Test Prep!

Have you tried out the New-O-Matic app yet? Both my students and I would highly recommend it! This app features current event articles that are geared towards third/fourth or fifth grades. All of the articles that we scoped out today were both highly entertaining and informative. It kept my students engaged and wanting to read more, even when we were out of time! I love it when that happens!!!
When you log in, it asks you to select the grade level, then the main menu of articles pops up. The most recent articles are at the top. You can scroll down to view all available resources.

The best thing is, new pieces of nonfiction text are uploaded daily! That's what makes this such a great resource for my class. We have been focusing on a lot of nonfiction texts as we prepare for our standardized tests, making this a wonderful tool!

As I played with the app, I noticed several more features that I loved. For example,  each article comes with a fact, video, slideshow, drawing section, and more. Pictured below is the drawing feature for the students to make any notes while they read. It's easy to access and flip back and forth between the article and the drawing board.

Here's where main idea comes in... I gathered a few articles from News-O-Matic and stapled each of them onto separate pieces of construction paper. I made four sets for my class to use. Four sets is the perfect number for my classroom because this makes each group contain 3-4 students. The sample below shows how I set up each article. 

*Note: I ended up copying and pasting the articles into PowerPoint before printing them. This was the easiest way to print them from my laptop. I wanted a paper copy so my students had access to a hard copy that they could easily highlight or mark on. However, each student was still able to pull up the articles on their iPad for easy access. 

Pictured above: I have the construction paper divided into four sections: Main Idea, Detail #1, 
Detail #2, and Detail #3.

Once my students were put into groups, they read aloud each article, one at a time. Then, they came up with a main idea all together. After deciding on a main idea, each group member was in charge of finding a detail to add to their construction paper. The criteria for a detail meant that they had to use words from the text to prove that their main idea was correct.

I love that this is a teamwork activity! My students worked hard and collaborated together to explain what the text was about and how they could prove their thinking. The conversations around the room were right on track and showed me that they were building strong responses throughout the activity.

If you liked this, you can click here to view similar test prep activities! :)

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