Sunday, May 8, 2011

Osama bin Laden Dead. GoGo News - A site to help talk about those difficult current events. is a free online news resource for children which features daily news for school children ages 7 to 13 years old.  The site provides a resource for times when we’re caught in that difficult situation when children catch a glimpse of a graphic news story on TV or sees the front page of a national newspaper with a graphic, sometimes violent photo. The questions almost immediately start peppering conversation: What is that? Who is that? What happened?

The good news is that GoGoNews is a great resource to help navigate these unchartered waters. The site offers a place for kids to learn about current events, but it does so in a way that insulates their minds by filtering the content just enough to keep them safely informed.

GoGoNews founder Golnar Khosrowshahi shares the three pieces of advice that inform the GoGo approach when discussing difficult content.  
Three tips for sharing adult news with children
  1. Tell the Truth:
    For example, when Osama Bin Laden was captured and killed, GoGoNews editors
    summarized the news coverage and gave an overview of the current situation in a way kids could understand.  Often, such as the recent coverage about the earthquake in Japan, the articles also provide key terms and expand on their meaning (such as earthquake, tsunami, epicenter and nuclear reactor, etc.).  By explaining these different elements, the news is educational and touches upon a variety of topics, including social studies, science, government, arts and culture, and history. 
  2. Have a Discussion:
    Once kids are aware of the news, parents and teachers can talk about what happened with children and ask follow up questions to spark a discussion. Following the canceled space shuttle “Endeavour” launch, for example:
    -What else do you know about space and the solar system?
    -Why do we have a space program and what do we learn from space exploration?
    -Who are astronauts?
  3. Explore Emotions:
    Rather than ignore devastating headlines and attempt to keep children naïve to harsh realities, parents and teachers should encourage children to share their emotions sparked by news stories:
    -How do you feel about what you just read?
    -Share stories of hope, such as how families overcome adversity, Good Samaritan acts, examples of community action to help provide assistance to those in need.
    -Offer examples to teach empathy and compassion by encouraging your child to get involved.

Khosrowshahi’s mission for GoGoNews is noble: “I think that the next generation of leaders will be those who have grown up connected to the world around them intellectually, academically and socially. By discussing global current events, we are creating the opportunity for children to improve their literacy, gain a new vocabulary and learn about different people, countries, and cultures in a fun and entertaining format. As parents and educators, we want our children to grow up and be educated in a global context; to think of countries near and far as their neighbors who do things just a little differently.”

Using online news sites such as GoGoNews at home and in the classroom is a good way to provide children with general knowledge as well as a consciousness and awareness of the world, regardless of geography or culture. Having a free resource that provides subject matter to start a conversation with children and a safe means by which to deal with the world’s current events is certainly a great start. 

1 comment:

  1. Last week I gave GoGoNews a trial in my 5th grade classroom, contrasting it against some of the other activities that we have done this year. From the outset of our school year, current events are a fixed part of our curriculum and done very much in concert with our parent community. As the news by itself often raises more questions than answers with children, parents are required to act as mediators to process the dizzying array of issues that emerge. Noble efforts have been undertaken by Khosrowshahi to present the news in a way that does indeed raise the awareness of children of the world around them and cultures very different from their own. As for my own students, they likened the site to Having already had the hard discussions with their parents of the tumultuous news cycle of the last six months, students broadly felt the site had a pat approach to the issues of the day. As a function of their age and development, I thought it interesting my students ability to differentiate between hard and soft news. The discussion of current events for children holds the virtue of enabling students to form opinions, raising consciousness and developing civic-mindedness (along with countless others). Because of its importance, it needs to be delivered honorably and sincerely, taking into account the earnest curiosities of the learner. While GoGoNews might not be ideal for my own classroom, it could certainly aid younger learners (K-3) with their parents and teachers to make some sense of the maddening complexities of the world today.