Exceptional News

Start your special ed class with understandable current events.

Weekly Current Events

Exceptional News makes current events understandable. Imagine starting each morning with a routine that includes a current event, calendars, maps, and opportunities to develop problem-solving, vocabulary, science, social studies, and build cultural literacy?

With a subscription to Exceptional News, you can do this each day before 1st period is over! This product can be used as a morning activity or whenever is convenient for your students, and is a great, age-appropriate replacement for calendar time. The news is written at a 2nd grade level and works beautifully with all ages.

Understand the World

Current events are discussed on television, within families, and tend to be a popular topic of conversation. Understanding  major current events develops “withitness” and makes the world make more sense. Students also benefit from understanding problems people face. Empowering students by showing that they can make a difference in the world when events occur is a great way to express self-determination.

Expand Cultural Literacy

The ability to problem solve is the most important skillset needed for work and independence. Direct instruction is needed to develop these skills and should be incorporated into curriculum. Problem-solving is best taught using scenarios, and our current events provide scenarios that are ideal for practicing how to identify a problem, make a mental representation of the problem, brainstorm solutions, test solutions for viability, and evaluate solutions.

Daily Problem-Solving

Students with an ID lack significant background knowledge. Exceptional News covers important people, places, things and events going on around the world in an understandable manner. Over time, students acquire rich background knowledge on several topics. They develop vocabulary and schema related to world leaders, disasters, weather and conflict. The more background knowledge a person has, the more connections can be made to new information being learned.

How It Works

Each week we write a news article. To support comprehension, we then create an e-book that breaks the article down sentence by sentence to illustrate the article with photographs.

This e-book is ideal for projecting on a SMART board and includes 3 pages of multiple choice and Yes/No questions at the end. Students can circle answers, draw lines on the map, and fill in the calendar.

In addition to the news article, we give you a printable version of the e-book (both color and black and white) to give students. You pick. It’s all there.

We provide 5 worksheets. One is a Map Activity, one is a Who, What, Why, When and Where worksheet, and 3 summary worksheets at 3 different levels.

Teacher notes for each page of the e-book are provided to give ideas about how to talk about the article. The notes point out opportunities to develop problem solving and ways to engage students in conversations about the content of the article.

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Best Practices

Problem-solving skills have been identified as the most important skill needed for employment and independence, yet so little time is spent developing this skill. The best way to teach problem-solving skills is through scenarios. We have found that our news product is an ideal platform to incorporate problem- solving scenarios so that students get practice on this on a regular basis using real-life problems that people face.

The first step is identifying the problem, so be sure to prompt kids to state the problem to start the discussion.

Throughout the lesson, help students identify the problem that the various issues are causing people. Talk about what people might have to do given the circumstances on each page where this applies.  For example, if there is a flood, help students identify the problem and  what problems that would cause all involved, and what they might have to do…..Everything is wet, some things would get ruined, some things float away, etc. engage students in a conversation about this.   Another example, could be talking about the tree that has fallen on a car during a hurricane. What problem does the class see now? “You are  right… now that car won’t work. Oh no.  There is glass everywhere. What should they do if they see glass on the ground? You are right… people need to be careful so they don’t get cut. How will the owners of that car get places with no car? Etc.

As suggestions are made, help the students see if the idea is viable by walking through what their suggestion would entail to see if it’s practical and would work. This type of instruction guides students through the problem-solving process. Over time, using this strategy when you look at the current events slides you will notice improvements in critical thinking.

Happy Customers

My class read “Hurricane Irma,” “Earthquake in Mexico” and “Take a Knee”.

I was totally blown away by the Austin and Lily “Exceptional News” books. The format is so different than anything I have seen offered elsewhere. It is exactly what a self-contained class with intellectually disabled students of all ranges and abilities can actually use.

After watching the tutorial overview, the visual on how to fold the book and reading the teacher notes, I was eager to start. I liked the teacher’s notes because they aren’t strictly scripted but there are enough ideas to get talking points flowing.

One of my weaknesses as a teacher is that I don’t cover information in a lot of different ways with enough repetition. By following the teaching suggestions, I was able to slow down and stay on one article for the entire week! The three levels served me well within one class. I really enjoyed using this with my class. Most of them had heard about the topics of all three articles. Reading the books on the smartboard with the pictures really initiated a lot of discussion out of my usually silent class. When I showed an actual hurricane and earthquake happening on You Tube, all of my students were engaged and talking. Talk about high interest! It made me feel good and I felt like my students got a lot out the articles. I can see a lot of thought and work went into each article. Most of my day is teaching math and I really looked forward to reading with my students on current events that are wonderfully age appropriate!

Patty Vilescas

Special Education Teacher

FAQ

How often do I get a new article?

You get a news package each week for 1 year that is delivered to your account page. Two weeks during the holiday season and the months of June and July are the exceptions.

How do you teach problem-solving while covering the news?

The first step is identifying the problem, so be sure to prompt kids to state the problem to start the discussion.

Throughout the lesson, help students identify the problem that the various issues are causing people. Talk about what people might have to do given the circumstances on each page where this applies.  For example, if there is a flood, help students identify the problem and  what problems that would cause all involved, and what they might have to do…..Everything is wet, some things would get ruined, some things float away, etc. engage students in a conversation about this.   Another example, could be talking about the tree that has fallen on a car during a hurricane. What problem does the class see now? “You are  right… now that car won’t work. Oh no.  There is glass everywhere. What should they do if they see glass on the ground? You are right… people need to be careful so they don’t get cut. How will the owners of that car get places with no car? Etc.

As suggestions are made, help the students see if the idea is viable by walking through what their suggestion would entail to see if it’s practical and would work. This type of instruction guides students through the problem-solving process. Over time, using this strategy when you look at the current events slides you will notice improvements in critical thinking.

Can you show me an example of what the talking points you provide for each page look like?

Page 2:  “Uh oh….I see a problem that the fire has caused…Class, what is the problem that we can see on this page?” Yes, the problem is fire burning down houses. Someone needs to call 911. They need firemen to help put out the fire.  Wildfires are scary. They burn down forests and sometimes they burn down houses. There were A LOT of houses that caught on fire in Northern California. There were 11,000!  Oh my!!!  That is crazy!!! AND……About half of the houses that caught on fire completely burned down. That means their house is all burned down to the ground. Nothing is left of it. What will these poor people need to do class? What happens if your house burns down? (coach until they say ‘nowhere to live’ and then talk about where they might be able to go until they get a new house-check for feasibility)

Page 4: Let’s look at the picture. What do you see?  Yes, there is a fireman carrying a girl away from the fire. Let’s read what this page says. It says “Some people got sick from the smoke. Some people died. Oh, that is sad, isn’t it? One thing about fires that is so dangerous is the smoke. Who here has seen smoke from a fire? What happens if you breathe smoke? Do you cough? (mimic coughing) Class, I want everyone to cough. Yes, that is what happens if you breathe in a bunch of smoke. When there is a big wildfire there is a lot of smoke. There is so much smoke that people can’t breathe. That is scary. The firemen needed to help those people. Some of the people were breathing  the smoke too long and they died. That is sad. They couldn’t get away from the smoke because the fire was all over. It was a huge fire.

How does Exceptional News contribute to the development of cultural literacy?

Cultural literacy is the information that most people have within a given culture. For example, most people know that the Bahamas is a group of islands and that a lot of tourists like to vacation there and visit the beaches, etc. Most, if not all, people with intellectual disabilities are lacking this sort of knowledge that we take for granted. When you lack this sort of information, a lot of things don’t make sense and following along with movies, conversations, etc. is further impaired.  By using our products on a regular basis, you will develop student’s cultural literacy. The better developed this is, the more understandable everything is.

What if my student can't read?

No problem. There will be such an interesting, engaging conversation along with photographs on each page of the e-book to engage and aid comprehension of the news story. The notes provided for the educator ensure that students are engaged in rich conversation throughout the lesson.

What does the subscription include?

Each publication comes with a current event article in a newspaper-like format, the same article is also broken down and made into an E-book that incorporates pictures to aid comprehension, a printable version of the E- book (color or black and white), 7 printable activities (3 levels of summary, 3 levels of WH questions, and a map activity), and teaching notes. ( how to talk about each page of the book)

How can a speech therapist use this?

Exceptional News is a great platform for speech therapists to use to target and improve speech and language skills. The article, worksheets, and e-book  presentation all focus on a variety of listening and speaking skills that can be directly targeted through speech and language therapy by a speech and language pathologist (SLP). Specific Individualized Education Plan (IEP) goals such as articulation, vocabulary, auditory comprehension, expression, social skills, and augmentative and alternative communication are easily worked on through this curriculum

When does the subscription start?

The one year begins from the day you purchase your subscription.

Are there any holiday breaks?

Yes. There won’t be any articles for two weeks in December as well as in June or July.

What if I am not satisfied?

If you’re not 100% completely satisfied after 30 days of using our materials, you can contact our support team for a full refund – no questions asked.

What Standards are addressed using Exceptional News?

It’s impossible to write all of them, but here is a list of topics that will align to standards in every state. The following topics are addressed in our current events curriculum on a regular basis:

  • Summarizing
  • WH Questions
  • Reading strategies
  • Building vocabulary
  • Weather (hurricanes, tornadoes, blizzards, hail, rain, etc.)
  • Disasters (earthquakes, floods, volcanoes, etc.)
  • Geography (maps, continents, countries, capitol cities, oceans, lakes, rivers, mountains, valleys, plateaus, etc.)
  • animals (habitat, what they eat, body parts, characteristics)
  • Important People (government officials, royal families, musicians, actors, etc.)
  • Global awareness (where they live compared to other locations around the world)
How can ESL students benefit from Exceptional News

Most importantly, this provides interesting content to discuss. It’s engaging.

This curriculum provides news in a simplified format,and introduces new vocabulary and develops background knowledge while learning to speak English more fluently.

Who Can Use a License?

 

A license is to be used by one teacher / therapist / parent. 

 

The materials on this website are made available to individuals for use in classroom or individual instruction. For these purposes only, materials can be downloaded, printed and/or copied by the individual for all of their students or clients. Use by more than one individual will require a license for each person.

 

We do monitor the number of “hits” associated with each subscription, and excessive use can result in an account suspension.

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