Friday, October 18, 2013

{Crew Review} God’s World News for High School

Trak {$28 for home subscription – click for subscription information} is a monthly news magazine published for teens/ high schoolers by the publishers of World magazine.  Part of  God's World News (, the company  has grade-specific issues for children from preschool through high school.  Ten issues are published per year for each of the academic publications (7 issues during the school year and three during the summer – publication schedule is here).

***Update*** I've gotten off the phone with the World/ God's World News people to fully understand what a home subscription includes, and it is actually AMAZING what their World Fellow Program includes.  When you pay the full home subscription price for Trak ($28) you will get access to ALL of the World Magazine online content,  Yes, that is a year's subscription to the adult version of World Magazine, plus back issues, etc.  Online, iPad, etc.  The Whole Ball of Wax.

We have a long history of subscribing to various God’s World News editions, but this year was our first year with the high school level Trak.  At 32-pages this isn’t a quick read-through publications.  Instead, Over the course or our review period, I’ve noticed Ben picking up Trak and reading it at various times, usually at breakfast.

Trak covers a huge range of subject matter.  Often times there is an article about a hot political topic.  October’s issue discussed some issues surrounding the Syrian civil war and displaced peoples during wars.  Other articles explored topics Ben and I had never heard about.  Ever heard of Hyperloops?  We hadn’t either {click here to learn about this alternative transportation mode}.

Several sections in the newsmag include:  Tech & Culture, Playlist {movies, TV, books and music}, SportsTrak, Posts {short articles}, DesignTrak, PrepTrak {preparing for college and life}, BusinessTrak, and SideTrak {very short articles about unique topics}.

A Christian worldview surrounds all the articles.  None of the issues in the two magazines we received during this review period were highly controversial, but the magazine did include some interpretive information to help students consider world events from God’s perspective.
A subscription to God's World News includes more than just the magazine.  There are a couple websites that expand on the magazine.  Weekly emails with links to additional helps and archived content (you do need to opt-in to this).    Just this month we received a link to their new site for a special biography about Jane Austen:


The takes you to general information about the magazines, but also links you to activities and resources for each edition of the magazine. This would be great for younger grade levels, which have activities and lessons plans, but the high school Trak does not have this type of content.  The online content also seems to address more timely events – such as the recent government shutdown.  Discussion questions were provided after a summary:

I only have one complaint about the website access for the educational magazines:  you will have to know your subscription number.  Really?  I have to learn another number to access the content?  It's been a little cumbersome to look up all the time, and I do hope that in the future, the subscription number can be used as an initial log-in and we can opt to change it to something more user friendly. Update:  I learned in my call that they are hoping to change this, too, to make it easier to log in. 

How We Use This:  Since Ben is participating in a Currents Events/ Debate course in Classical Conversations, I had hoped that Trak would be a source of information for him on some of his topics – the death penalty, right to life, gun control, etc. I’ve scanned through Trak’s online content, but haven’t really found articles to help serve as source material. This is a little disappointing to me, because I can really see that God’s World News can fill a gapping hole to help parents – homeschooler or not – navigate our culture with tools to connect God’s Word with God’s World.

I wish I could say that I use GWN systematically in our homeschool to draw out discussions between Ben and myself, and that even the younger boys participate and learn.  This would be the ideal situation and preferred way to use Trak.  Instead, I’ll give you our dose of reality:  Trak arrives and sits on the dining room table or counter where it is read, piece by piece, over the course of several weeks.  Ben usually reads it first, and I’ll page through it, read some myself and we’ll talk about something interesting to us.  All on the fly.  sometimes, Luke and Levi will leaf through Trak noticing some of the political cartoons and we’ll talk about why they aren’t funny comics.

I’m actually OK with how we are using Trak, however.  Not everything has to be a lesson plan.  We are all learning and sharing ideas as we walk through life … and that is what I want our home school journey to be.  Learning and walking, together.

God’s World News providing complementary one-year subscriptions to many other Schoolhouse Review Crew members. 

Click to read more reviews from the Schoolhouse Review Crew
All prices are accurate as of blog posting. 

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