One of the most prevalent concerns in the modern American education system is literacy. Studies show that while most students can understand the face value of written words by third grade, only about one third of middle schoolers can truly comprehend written texts.
A variety of strategic plans, teaching strategies, and edtech tools exist to help build literacy. And as of this week, one such edtech tool is expanding its mission to address another aspect of education – knowledge of current events. Classroom media platform Curriculet has announced a new partnership with USA Today through which students will be able to read specially modified editions of the newspaper in order to build their literacy skills.
The Curriculet edition of USA Today is available for free to teachers during a 45-day trial period, after which subscriptions could be purchased by the school for $4.99 per student per year.
Curriculet, a platform similar to the MyOn service used by HISD literacy and reading programs, provides enriched e-texts for classrooms on a rental or subscription basis. Platforms like Curriculet include grade-level-appropriate quizzes, annotations, and other supplementary media embedded in the text, designed to help build student comprehension and allow teachers to more easily track individual students’ critical reading skills. The Curriculet editions of USA Today offer these features, which have the potential to make them more teachable than an everyday newspaper.
While this hardly the first instance of a classroom media platform offering content that combines literacy and educational content – notably, MyON has a wide range of STEM-based texts – it does mark the first time that e-texts have been combined with digitally enhanced literacy lessons.
The idea of teaching current events in conjunction with literacy seems quite sensical, even intuitive – after all, newspaper reading involves its own subset of literacy and comprehension skills. Teachers have been using magazines and newspaper clippings for the occasional lesson since long before the development of enriched e-texts. As e-texts become an increasingly more prevalent tool for teaching literacy, it is hardly surprising to see them integrating the same sorts of cross-curricular material as their analog equivalents might use. It will be interesting to see how else educational content comes to be integrated into literacy-focused digital programming as the medium continues to grow and develop.