Sunday, October 20, 2013

God's World News {Schoolhouse Crew Review}

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When I was in high school, I remember having a subscription to a major news magazine so that I could study current events for some of our academic competitions. I've often thought that I'd like to find a similar way for Addison to learn about current events in a meaningful way (not just sound bites overheard here-and-there).

According to their website, God's World News "will provide news and interesting informaiton for children -- biblically, appropriately, and vibrantly -- so that they can grow in their understanding that God has the whole world in His hands." (Mission and Doctrine statement)

Addison has been receiving their high school level magazine, Trak, for the past two months. We found that this magazine provided a mixture of serious current news articles, such as slum mapping or refugees in turmoil, and articles that are geared towards teens, such as trampoline safety or robotics. The mixture of topics in Trak makes it a good transition magazine to prepare high schoolers to read adult news magazines.

One nice thing about Trak is that they provided enough background information for students to understand the issue. For instance, the article about refugees talked briefly about the Syrian civil war so that the student could understand why Syrians are fleeing a county. I remember being frustrated as a teen trying to study current events because I didn't know enough current events to be able to understand the new developments discussed in newspaper or magazine articles. The articles in Trak are understandable, even if the student has no background knowledge of the topic when they pick up the magazine.

I could sense a Christian perspective throughout some of the articles in our issues of Trak. For instance, in an article about artificial intelligence in robots, it talked about the ethical considerations of using animatronic seals to provide comfort and companionship to the elderly. The article reminded us about scriptures that talk about caring for the elderly and the potential for missed opportunities if we replace human care with robotics. Many of the other articles were simply factual reports.

In addition to the print copy of Trak magazine, we also received online access to God's World News resources. Through the website, we can access back issues, biographies, and extension activities. Their new website shares further news articles. These articles are primarily categorized by topic -- SciTech, Must Know, Arts, Beliefs, Fun Stuff, and Live Culture. Within the categories, the news articles are divided by grade levels. Some of the articles that were available when I selected 10th grade (for Addison) were not available when I selected 7th grade (for Brennan). I suspect the differences lie in the maturity level of the content.

When I searched the God's World News website, I realized that a paper subscription to one level magazine allowed me to also access the other levels of God's World News online. Addison receives a paper copy of Trak, and I can download Early Edition for Lauren and Top Story for Brennan to read on the iPad (or computer). The lower levels of God's World News include activities (printable) as well as the news articles.

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For students too young for the teen website, God's World News has a website just for them -- I was amazed to see both the number of resources and the way they were developed for different levels of students. When I selected the 2nd grade level, I found the following article about the government shutdown. A similar article written for 6th graders was approximately 10 short paragraphs long and included some necessary background information so that student could understand the controversy leading up to the shutdown.

God's World News is a division of WORLD News Group, publishers of WORLD Magazine for adults. In addition to Addison's Trak subscription, I received a print subscription to this magazine as well. I've found it to be both informative and thought provoking. I read about the death penalty, common core standards for schools, Trail Life USA versus Boy Scouts of America, and much more. I didn't always find a Christian bias to the news articles in Addison's Trak magazine, but I definitely saw one in the adult magazine. In fact, the conservative Christian perspectives on current events has brought about many discussions in our house. Addison actually prefers to read WORLD Magazine because she says it deals with subjects that seem more meaningful or important.

God's World News magazines are a terrific way to bring current events knowledge into our homeschool days. The added online content makes the price of a print subscription a true bargain.

God's World News magazines are available in differing levels for students all the way from preschool up to high school level. A year subscription (10 monthly issues) costs $28, and there is a small discount if you are ordering multiple copies sent to the same address, even if the copies are of different levels. As of right now, if you subscribe to God's World News, you are automatically a part of the WORLD Fellow Member program and can access the online programs for both the student magazines and WORLD magazine.


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