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TechCHAT: TIME For Kids Executive Editor Talks New Tool TIME Edge

TIME Edge, a new digital literacy platform from TIME for Kids, provides nonfiction text for middle school English Language Arts classes. Nellie Gonzalez Cutler, TIME For Kids Executive Editor, talked to Education World about this new tool’s applications in the classroom. 



Why is TIME Edge a good fit for middle school classrooms?


For the past 20 years, TIME For Kids has been connecting elementary school classrooms with the world. We also work closely with a teacher advisory board. In our many conversations with educators, we repeatedly heard of the need for top-notch current events content written specifically for students in middle school. Our editors are journalists and former educators and could understand the need for this kind of reliable, age-appropriate content. We are bridging the gap between TIME For Kids with TIME, by creating dedicated middle school content. TIME Edge is a natural extension of the award-winning TIME For Kids content, but is developed and written with the needs of an older age group in mind. Topics, the reading level, and multimedia content are all geared to middle schoolers, with an understanding of their need for better resources in order to make global connections and solidify digital literacy. Additionally, the TIME Edge platform makes it possible to accommodate students who are at different learning levels. Select articles have a lower Lexile reading level—and a Spanish translation meets the needs of English Language Learners (ELL). 



Beyond literacy and current events, how else can TIME Edge be used in the classroom? How well can it assist ELL and history teachers? 


The content we develop for TIME Edge covers a variety of subjects, including science, civics, history and social studies. Our inaugural feature story on Cuba includes in-depth coverage of life in Cuba, historic perspectives, maps, photos and videos, and more. Additionally, teachers have access to the TIME Vault, which has articles from the past 90 years. The platform also supports ELL students by providing alternative text levels, articles in Spanish and definitions of key words. As we developed TIME Edge, we met with teachers who work with ELL and special-needs students. One of our goals is to make sure that teachers can meet the needs of students at varying levels, while teaching the same content. 


TIME Edge can be used for whole-class lessons and discussions, guided reading, and independent work. Each article comes with a teacher’s guide that includes a standards-aligned lesson and discussion questions. Select articles have a step-by-step close reading guide for the teacher and printable activities to support student comprehension and text analysis. These resources can be used to support a whole-class lesson around an article in the classroom, or as a flipped lesson, with students reading an article independently and completing an assessment we provide. Reports that measure student progress, and are aligned to specific Common Core English Language Arts (ELA) Standards, are automatically sent to the teacher, making it easy to see where a student needs more support. 



Does TIME Edge help students with the process of writing? If so, how? 


TIME Edge was developed to support literacy, and writing is a big part of that. We expect students to do a great deal of writing in connection with TIME Edge, and have included a number of resources to support the writing process. Select articles come with writing prompts and other support materials. For example, after reading our debate story about single-gender schools, we suggest that students explain their own point of view in writing, using evidence from the text to support their arguments. We provide a graphic organizer to help students do that. Throughout the teacher’s guides in TIME Edge, we suggest discussion prompts and questions that challenge students to ‘read like writers,’ evaluating choices an author made in how to structure and craft a text.



How do your interactive features enhance text beyond what students could access using a search engine? Give a specific example of how teachers can “deepen curiosity” exclusively using the TIME Edge platform, and why it trumps Internet search results. 


During our research with middle school teachers, we learned that one of their biggest needs is finding authentic, age-appropriate current events and primary sources to use in the classroom. This “pain point” was top-of-mind for us as we developed TIME Edge. The platform offers teachers one place to find high-quality resources and relevant non-fiction content that is supplemented by engaging multimedia features. Videos, slide shows, maps, vocabulary definitions, interactive timelines, and more bring students deeper into the texts. Plus, teachers have access to nearly 90 years of TIME content, making it easy to find relevant and reliable primary sources that solidify a broader global understanding for their students. 


To give a couple specific examples, we are publishing a debate story (on July 1) about whether there should be single-gender public schools. In addition to the main article, featuring different perspectives, we are also providing pro and con opinion pieces. There will be an interactive timeline on the history of Title IX. Students will be invited to vote in our live poll and see how their opinions compare to other readers around the country. There is a teacher’s guide for facilitating discussion and debate around these texts. We have step-by-step close reading tips as well as materials to support student writing. Additionally, this story will be available at two reading levels. Another example is our upcoming feature on how night games changed baseball. That story will focus on the Negro National League. With it, we are providing excerpts from TIME’s 1947 cover story about Jackie Robinson’s first season in the Major Leagues. We support student comprehension by including digital notes with information about references throughout the article. We’re also providing a graphic organizer to help students analyze this primary source document. Both baseball articles come with teacher’s guides. We want to give readers opportunities to really investigate a topic through not just a single article, but through multiple texts and extensive multimedia content. The fact that all of this is available on one platform makes it easy to teach, and even easier to use. Teachers and students don’t have to spend time looking for supplemental information or definitions. TIME Edge brings students into the content in ways that would otherwise require several websites and a variety of web searches. 



What type of user support does TIME Edge offer beyond supplemental materials and online troubleshooting? 


In terms of content support, teachers get a teacher’s guide for each article, a step-by-step close reading guide for select articles, exclusive access to printable activities that focus on central ideas, text structure and more, as well as Common Core-aligned assessments. For tech support, we have a customer support hotline, and teachers can also email the customer support team. We know how important it is for teachers and students to have easy access to our platform, and our dedicated customer service team is trained to provide top-level support.



What makes TIME Edge worth the price point? Is it realistic to see TIME Edge getting widespread use in cash-strapped districts? 


We understand the budget challenges that teachers and administrators face. That is why TIME Edge is priced to benefit the whole school, not just one classroom. The per-student subscription provides access to TIME Edge for the school year. The subscription follows the student from classroom to classroom, from English class to science to social studies. We have deep partnerships with teachers, and identifying fair price points is a big part of that.



Educators can try a free public preview of TIME Edge through the month of June. 



Article by Jason Papallo, Education World Social Media Editor

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