Building Background Knowledge
with World News
The Benefits of News Articles for Emergent Learners
News articles help students build a tangible, real-world context around abstract concepts. For students with complex learning needs, who may struggle with applying theoretical ideas, these texts bridge the gap between academic classroom learning and real-world examples and can be used for literacy learning. For example, learning about the wind, rain, and flooding that result from a hurricane in a news article helps students understand the impact of this kind of event. This mental model can be applied when reading fictional accounts of similar kinds of storms such as a tornado in ‘The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.’
Non-fiction articles also help build vocabulary by exposing students to a rich variety of words, supporting a natural and immersive approach to language acquisition. Educators can choose articles that align with interests and vocabulary goals of their students to ensure the learning experience is appropriately challenging and supportive.
Connecting Your Classroom to the World with Newstopia
The online portal for educators is updated every week with several new articles At any given time, educators and or students can select from a rotating selection of articles to use in their classrooms.
Each article is written for educators providing special education services to students in grades three through high school plus, and each article has a Teacher Guide for educators, substitute teachers and paras to use to provide engaging instruction with discussion prompts using an “Anchor, Read, Apply” format that builds background knowledge to enhance understanding. For each article, educators also receive:
- videos for building background knowledge
- instructional slide shows with Focal Pop
- academic and secondary transition program extension lessons
Using Newstopia and News Currents to Provide Equitable Access
Knowledge Unlimited, a sister company of Building Wings, publishes News Currents and News Currents Sr. These weekly programs provide instructional materials about current events for learners in schools and residents of assisted living communities. Both online publications are intended to engage conventional learners in conversations about important newsworthy current events, while also building background knowledge, vocabulary, and critical thinking skills.
In contrast, Newstopia is designed for students with complex learning needs and focuses on background knowledge building for literacy development, including developing critical thinking skills and vocabulary development using non-fiction articles rather than current events exposure.
Using Newstopia with Readtopia
- Focus on combining comprehensive information with real-world contexts and enriching multimedia
- Comprehensive teacher resources, including lesson plans, weekly materials, and professional development resources
- Emphasis on the application of knowledge to real-life scenarios
- Interactive lessons, discussions, and projects