Using Newsy in Your Classroom (and beyond!)

Using Newsy in Your Classroom


Have you heard of Newsy? It’s a platform for in-depth video coverage of a variety of topics, and it’s free for your use. They’ve taken stories from CNN, BBC, HuffPo, and many more sources, and condensed them. Videos range in length, but generally run around two minutes. The reporters speak slowly, and each video includes a transcript. This makes Newsy perfect for use in your classroom.

Newsy with Adult ELLs

I currently use Newsy with adult English language learners. Students enjoy Newsy because it is “real English” and doesn’t have the same “fake” feel as a scripted conversation. Students also enjoy that Newsy topics are current and interesting, in domains that matter most to them (technology, business, economics, etc.).

Let’s take a closer look at Newsy’s “condensed news” style. Here’s an excerpt from Newsy’s story “Smartphones in Bedrooms May Cause Kids to Get Less Sleep” (Jan 6, 2015).

“The University of California, Berkeley study looked at more than 2,000 fourth- and seventh-graders. What it found was kids who had small screen devices got, on average, 20.6 fewer minutes of sleep than those who didn’t. In addition, kids with TVs in their rooms got about 18 minutes less sleep.”

Now, take a look at an excerpt from an article on the same topic from CNN:

“More than 2,000 fourth- and seventh-graders participated in the study through the Massachusetts Childhood Obesity Research Demonstration Study in 2012 and 2013. Just over half of the study’s children reported sleeping near a small screen, while three in four children reported sleeping in the same room as a television. The fourth-graders slept an average of 9.8 hours during the week, while seventh-graders slept 8.8 hours on weeknights. But small screens and television screens were linked to less sleep.

Children who slept near a small screen reported getting 21 fewer minutes of sleep per weeknight compared to children who didn’t sleep with small screens in their rooms, the study found. Small screens had another impact: Children who slept near a small screen on weeknights thought that they hadn’t gotten enough sleep.”

This concise style makes Newsy videos easy-to-digest for non-native speakers.

I choose one topic per session and plan my lesson around the video. A typical lesson may go something like this:

Warm-up conversation (5 min)

bundle1-covPronunciation topic (10 min)
Newsy Video & Listening Comprehension work (15 min)
Extension Activities with new vocab (15 min)
Conversation/Debate about topic (10 min)
Closing (5 min)

Want to use Newsy in your ESL classroom/tutoring today? Check out my Newsy Listening Comprehension Bundle.

Newsy with Younger ELLs

You can use a Newsy video to start off your class period, having the video act as a conversation starter. You could also have students complete a KWL chart before viewing the video in order to activate prior knowledge. This would be a great approach with younger students, particularly if you are teaching ESL as part of another class. For example, you could use a Newsy science video to build scientific vocabulary.

You can also use Newsy videos to reinforce summarizing skills and practice main idea. The videos are short enough that you could show three or four in succession and have students pinpoint the main idea in each. This would also be a great opportunity for Think-Pair-Share.

Newsy in an ELA Classroom

In an ELA classroom, you can use Newsy in a variety of ways.

Use Newsy…

-to accompany a journal topic. This is a great way to draw students in with something visual and auditory before asking them to write. Also, at a run time of about two minutes, these videos won’t take up too much time. I like to do videos with journal topics a couple times a week.

-to kickstart a research mini-project. After viewing a video as a class, give students the rest of the lesson to do a quick inquiry. For example, if students watch a video about McDonald’s new custom ordering scheme, have students research other fast-food restaurants that have tried this. Has it worked for them? Have students present their findings (and sources!) to small groups.

-to prompt debate. After viewing a video, have students take sides of an issue. Give students time to research and then debate their opinions as a class or in small groups

-to serve as a model. Have students work in pairs to prepare (and produce!) a two-minute news clip about a topic. The resulting videos would even be short enough to watch in class on a “viewing day”. This would be a great way to get kids to dive into research, as well as incorporate reading, writing, speaking, and listening into a project.

What other potential do you see for Newsy’s short, easy-to-understand videos? Are you already using Newsy in the classroom? Leave a comment and let me know.

All the best,
-Danielle @ Nouvelle

Photo credit: base for cover photo. “evening watching television”., acquired through Flickr. CC Att license. 25 Feb 2015


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