This fall we’ve had many requests from teachers and administrators for stories that can help their students understand the issues, candidates, and election process in the U.S. presidential race. Every week we include at least one election-related story in our current events, but we thought we’d compile this list of stories to help you find ones you want to use quickly. For example, you can discuss the role of the media or go all the way back to see where this election got started. And stay tuned! Like the election, we are changing our resources weekly so keep an eye on the current events section for more!
Policies and Beliefs
If you are interested in the policies and beliefs of the candidates, consider learning about their stance on the following issues:
If you are teaching about the election process, have students listen to a story about Superdelegates, Keeping Elections Safe from Hacking, or Gerrymandering.
Focus on the unprecedented First Female Nominee for President, and discuss the Barriers to a Female President.
Discuss the opinions of the voters and what they are looking for in this election season.
We will update our election stories every week so stay tuned!
The accomplishments and culture of Latino and Hispanic people should be highlighted throughout the year, yet especially during National Hispanic Heritage Month (September 15 – October 15) we take the time to bring the dialogue to the classroom. Here are a few resources to help engage students in exploring significant events in the Hispanic American experience.
Things to think about while teaching:
- This is an opportunity to create empathy and discuss the value of diversity.
- If there are Hispanic or Latino students in your class, don’t put them in a position of speaking for all Hispanics or being the authority on all things about their culture or history.
- All nationalities and cultures have struggles and celebrations. Present a balance of struggles and positive accomplishments.
Listenwise Stories of Latino and Hispanic Experiences:
Personal stories of immigration: Listen to hear about the experiences and motivations of Latino authors Sandra Cisneros and Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Hear the story of an immigrant from Bolivia, a 13-year old migrant from Honduras, and dairy-farm workers from Guatemala.
Elections: Hispanics and Latinos have had the power to affect politics during this election season, both with their economic power and in the caucuses. To celebrate Latino leaders, learn about the accomplishments of the former president of Uruguay.
Current events: Listen to current events from Venezuela and Cuba, as well as events from the past, such as the deportation of hundreds of thousands of Mexican-Americans in the 1930s, for which California has recently apologized.
Challenges for children: Learn about the difficulties of undocumented parents finding support for their American children, and the difficulties of teaching Spanish to second- generation children.
Immigration policy and trends: Immigration policies continue to shift and change. Listen to the strictest anti-immigration measure in recent history, from Arizona. Learn about the rising number of unaccompanied minors crossing the Mexican-American border, especially from Central America.
This is a question we get a lot. “How can I use Listenwise in my classroom?” Well, here are some real stories that show how ELL, social studies, and ELA teachers incorporate Listenwise into their teaching pedagogy. Try out these ideas for incorporating listening with your students!
Here are a few ideas from our Listenwise Teachers.
Middle School Social Studies Teacher, MA
- Why: Listenwise helps my students share their thinking and increase their interaction with the content.
- How: I flip my classroom and use Listenwise along with Google Classroom and other apps. I have students listen to a story and then participate in an online discussion about their opinion of the issue or what they learned.
- Recommended Story: Coming to America: Immigration
High School ELL Teacher, MD
- Why: I use audio stories to develop students’ listening and speaking strategies and skills. I adapt the reading/language arts curriculum for ESOL students, and visuals and audio helps them understand the content.
- How: I use Listenwise as a whole class activity. I link my warm-up to the Listenwise audio story to have students generate thoughts on the topic. Then I ask questions to determine their background knowledge.
- Recommended Stories:
- Lost Boys of Sudan– I used this story when we were talking about identity and how the past can affect the future. This is a good story for teachers who want their students to get a sense of what it is like to be an immigrant, to be uprooted and move to another country and then to have the courage to go back and help those you have left behind.
- Protests in Baltimore– I used this story after reading To Kill a Mockingbird.
High School ELA Teacher, CA
- Why: I use these audio stories to introduce new content.
- How: I had students research a topic related to the 1930’s, such as The Stock Market Crash, Dust Bowl, Prohibition, etc. I chose two stories from Listenwise and we listened to one together as a whole class and I stopped the audio to add my commentary. Then I assigned the other story and students discussed with a partner to find the similarities between them. Then I called on certain students to share what they had discussed and we talked about it as a whole class.
- Recommended Stories: Voices from the Great Depression and The Dust Bowl During the Great Depression
ELL Instructor, MA
- Why: I use Listenwise with my English Learners because the stories are short and fit into my curriculum.
- How: First we listen while I project the interactive transcript, and then we listen again and they check off the phrases as they hear them using the Language Identification checklist. Students retell the story to each other using target vocabulary and I make sure they are understanding the content.
- Recommended Story: Does Lack of Sleep Keep People Poor?
High School American History Teacher, CA
- Why: These stories really added a useful edge to my lessons that I can adapt as needed. I’m really excited about it!
- How: I have students listen to the stories twice, as they do in the Smarter Balanced Assessment, and then answer the provided comprehension questions and summarize what they heard.
- Recommended Story: Why Run for President?
ELL Instructor, MD
- Why: These stories help my students see their own challenges in a new light.
- How: I provided visuals to help student comprehension, showed a video from the lesson and then they listened to the slowed audio version of the story. My students discussed the cultural differences in the story and how the past affects the future.
- Recommended Story: Lost Boys of Sudan
Middle School Social Studies Teacher, MA
- Why: These stories have relevant content for social studies teachers. I like the current events, the mix of comprehension and opinion questions, and having an easy way to review assignments and check for comprehension.
- How: I assign 4 current events from the week. Students get to choose one to listen to and then they complete the questions.
- Recommended Story: A Year in Space
Have you wanted to give your students more autonomy? Listenwise just made some changes that will help you create student-driven activities and assignments. We’re excited to share that our search features are now available to students too!
Now your students can find and listen to stories that they find engaging. This change can facilitate student-centered learning experiences, ones that value your students’ preferences and interests. Here are five ways you could use the student search and browse features in your classroom:
- While reading a novel in class, encourage your students to find Listenwise stories related to that text. They might search for book titles, related news stories, interviews with the author, or prominent themes such as “injustice” or “heroes.” Then, ask your students to compare and contrast the Listenwise story and the events in your class novel. This activity will help students see the connections between literature and their lives.
- Encourage students to use Listenwise as a potential resource while they work on research projects. As they browse the Internet and books for information on particular topics, suggest that they search through our library to find relevant radio stories. Your students will likely appreciate that our content is concise, full of information, and easy to understand. Furthermore, the stories may help learners explore their topics from new or surprising angles.
- While your class studies a particular conflict or war in history, invite them to find Listenwise stories about other conflicts from our past or present. The search feature may lead them to stories about World War I, Vietnam, the Syrian Civil War, and more. As they notice connections between the events you are studying and the Listenwise stories, they will learn more about how conflicts throughout history unfold.
- Use our Current Events Debate series to inspire persuasive essays or speeches. Students can begin by typing “debate” into our search bar in order to find topics that interest them. Each student might listen to several stories before choosing an issue that feels most compelling or personally relevant. Then, students should form opinions on their issues and present their arguments, reasoning, and evidence through essays or speeches.
- Teach students media literacy skills by inviting them to create their own radio stories. Students might start the process by searching our library for Listenwise stories that seem interesting. After they each choose a story, encourage students to research, organize, and write a follow-up radio segment on the same topic. Their projects should add new perspectives or voices to the conversation. Finally, students can record themselves reading their stories and share the results with their peers.
However you choose to use our student search features, we hope that they empower learners in your classroom. Whether you choose one of the options above or implement other creative ideas, we’d love to hear from you.
Share how you are using student search in the comments below!
Listening to a good story has the ability to spark memories, engage the senses, and elicit empathy. Some of the most memorable stories your students will hear won’t align directly with your curriculum. But teaching with stories that spark emotions are often the stories that reach your students. This is a great way to start the year off, and build relationships with your new group of students. Studies show that emotions are integral to learning. In the simplest terms, we only think deeply about things we care about. Grappling with the way emotional stories make your students feel, and not just focusing on analytical skills, is also important.
We have some great stories exploring emotions and friendships that also have the educational supports of lessons and current events. Give these stories a listen:
Back-to-school is here, and the first few weeks can set the tone for the year. Here are some ideas about how Listenwise can help start the school year off right.
Create relationships with your students
It is critical that students and teachers develop positive and trusting relationships in order to build a high performing classroom. To create a bond with your students, listen and engage your students in conversations. When teachers ask questions, and are genuinely curious about what our students say, they are communicating an authentic desire to get to know who they are beyond their test scores and beyond their classroom persona. A provocative or interesting Listenwise story could be a great ice breaker to start the year. You might talk about the Zika travel warnings, or students thoughts about the upcoming Elections.
Encourage classroom discussions that let students have a voice
We’ve added a student search feature! Have students start at their landing page to choose their own story to listen to and discuss. On Fridays we have debate topics, so students can choose to debate issues or to share their perspectives on a particular theme. This is a great way to understand what topics your students enjoy learning about.
Engage Your Class In “Think-Pair-Share” with Listenwise
Think-pair-share is a very simple, yet effective technique that allows students, especially ELLs, time to process their thoughts.
- Listen to an engaging Listenwise story with your whole class.
- Ask one of our thought-provoking questions from the lesson.
- Give students some time to think about the question on their own.
- Have students share their thoughts with a partner. This gives the students the opportunity to ‘check out’ their answer with another student or hear another possible answer. If confused, the students can also ask their peers for help.
- Finally, ask students to share thoughts with the whole class, which serves as a form of accountability for the students. In this discussion/explanation, the teacher gets feedback on what the students do or don’t know though informal assessment.
Build Listenwise into your Routines and Plans
Listenwise is a great way to improve listening comprehension skills. We have a library full of relevant stories that align with much of your curriculum.
Take a look back at your assignments last year that might fit into your units this year. Then explore our full library to see which stories will spark learning for your students.
Here are some of the newest additions to our library:
Welcome back to school!
We hope you’ve had a great summer. We sure have. We changed our name, and now we are called, Listenwise. Check out our updated website!
This summer we’ve been working hard on new and exciting product updates for you, our users. Our updated name highlights the importance of not only current events, but also the importance of teaching listening skills to impact college and career readiness. Listening comprehension is fundamental to literacy – which is what inspired us to launch some great product updates this week.
Did you read that correctly? Yes, we just launched new product updates! (And rumor has it there may be more exciting updates later this fall!)
- Student listening links!
You asked for an easy way to simply let students listen to the audio story on their own device. Now both FREE and PREMIUM teachers can give listening links their students. Click the link icon in the toolbar and share the link however you typically share resources with students. You can even share these links to your Google Classroom! Students with PREMIUM accounts will also see the interactive transcript with the story if they log in.
- Language Challenge levels –
Will my students be able to understand this story? All FREE and PREMIUM users will be able to see a language challenge level (Low, Medium, or High) next to each lesson to help guide you. The levels do not relate to the content of the story, but to the complexity of the vocabulary, sentence structure and language in the audio story.
- Current events with streaming audio – No more linking off to other sites to get our current events stories. For new current events this school year, you’ll be able to stream the stories directly on our site, and they’ll come with transcripts and slowed audio for our PREMIUM users.
- Updated user dashboards! Both FREE and PREMIUM users have updated dashboards when you log in. Go login and check it out!
- Updated assignment workflows for PREMIUM users! Check out this in-depth blog post about the updated PREMIUM features, with a redesigned workflow for assignments and classes for maximum ease-of-use. The classes tab is now your go to place for reviewing student submissions and class-by-class information, not just class lists and enrollment. See your recent assignments organized by class, where you can see and act on everything related to that class. The assignments tab now acts as your reusable assignment library, organized alphabetically by title. You can review and update previous assignments, and assign to new classes.
We’re back to school too!
This Sunday our weekly newsletter is back and on Monday we are resuming our daily current events! Are you not signed up for our email news? Sign up here.
We are always looking for new content ideas, or feedback on our product, please tweet us @listenwiselearn or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to send comments/stories, etc.
We listened to your feedback and have designed a more intuitive way to manage your assignments and student submissions. We’ve heard questions such as…
- How can I see all of my assignments for a specific class? Or all of my active assignments?
- How challenging are the stories? Will my students be able to understand them?
- Can I see interactive transcripts for all the current events?
- Why are some stories streamed and others link off to other sites?
- Can I use Listenwise with Google Classroom?
- What if I want students to listen to a story from their own tablets without submitting an assignment?
We are very excited to share this new functionality, which now provides a lot more options for using Listenwise in the classroom. Log in now to check out the new functionality.
Easier management of assignments:
- Dashboard update: Now the left dashboard column is your quick view of active assignments. You can quickly get into the work of reviewing submissions.
- The biggest change for users is the redesigned workflow for assignments and classes for maximum ease-of-use:
- Classes page: This is now your go to place for your student submissions and class-by-class information, not just class lists and enrollment.
- See your assignments organized by class, with an easy way see and act on everything related to that class.
- You still go here to create a new class or check class rosters. Just click the class name to get the list of students.
- Assignments page: This is now your reusable content library, with all the assignments you have created alphabetically organized by title. (To manage active assignments, you now go to the Classes page.)
- You can review previous assignments, make adjustments, and assign to new classes or students.
New instructional resources
- Language Challenge levels – As you are searching the Listenwise collections, you will notice a new symbol (kind of like cell phone service bars), indicating a low, medium, or high Language Challenge. This will help you gauge if the story is appropriate for your students’ listening comprehension skills.
- Current events with streaming audio – No more linking off to other sites to get our current events. For new current events this school year, you’ll be able to stream the stories directly on our site, and they’ll come with transcripts and slower audio for our PREMIUM users.
- Great new lessons – We’ve added many new lessons to our collections! Check out a few of our favorites:
More flexibility for student access:
- Student Listening Links! Sometimes you just want a quick way to give students access to a great podcast. Maybe you’re combining it into an assignment with other tools and resources or don’t need students to submit any online work. For those times that you aren’t creating a full Listenwise assignment, you can now use Listening Links. Copy the link to share with students directly or use our share to Google Classroom feature. Your students will see the audio player and have access to the interactive transcript and slower audio option, while listening to the story on their own device. It’s a streamlined student view without the other learning resources or activities of our full blown assignments. (After clicking the link, students will simply login in order to see the interactive transcripts or listen to the slower version.)
- Learning Management System integration – We now offer options for Premium schools to include Listenwise as a tool in their LMS (e.g. Schoology) and use their LMS credentials for single sign on. Teachers can also share assignments or listening links to their own Google Classroom.
As you start to think about what you will be teaching this fall, make sure to search our large database of lessons, read this blog about ideas you can use to get started with Listenwise, or these teaching strategies to support your instruction!
We love trying new things and hearing your feedback to continuously make Listenwise the best it can be. Please share your input with us! We want to continue to provide a useful product for teaching and learning that supports your students’ needs.
We hope you enjoy these new features!
It’s back-to-school time! As you settle into the year it’s great to get students talking about important current events that happened over the summer. Try out these engaging public radio stories with discussion questions that will challenge your students to think critically:
Want to go deeper than current events? Looking to enhance your curriculum with great, primary source stories? Here are 5 ways you can fund a Listenwise subscription:
- Pledgecents and crowd funding!
We just started a partnership with Pledgecents. You can raise money online to fund your subscription. It takes a few seconds to sign up and 30 days to raise money. Learn more!
- School Funding
Discuss with your appropriate admin what funds exist to purchase Listenwise Premium for your school. Schools and districts have dedicated budgets for curriculum resources. Every school is different but your principal or assistant principal are typically the folks with purchasing power. In some cases library/media/tech folks review curricular resources and also have funds to make purchases. These are great places to start if you are looking to integrate Listenwise Premium at your school.
- Federal Funding
Many schools qualify for federal funding through Title 1 and Title 3. Title 1 funds are directed to schools where at least 40% of students live in poverty. Title 1 funds can be used to purchase curriculum resources. If you are looking to implement Listenwise with a high population of English Language Learners, Title III funding can be used. Title 1 and Title III funds can be directed towards school and district purchases.
- PTA Budgets/Education Foundations
Many districts have PTA budgets that can be applied to purchase supplemental educational resources. Districts also often have education foundations. These are nonprofits funded by individuals and businesses for the purposes of purchasing education resources.
Here is an example Sarasota County Florida’s education foundation, for reference.
Grants exist in many forms. Some come from districts, others come from organizations in the education ecosystem like ASCD. iNACOL Blended and Online Learning Honors is a great place for teachers who are looking to fund personalized learning.
Today we partnered with Pledgecents to make it easy for teachers to fund Listenwise for the classroom.
What is Pledgecents?
Pledgecents is an online fundraising platform for all PreK-12 needs.
How does Pledgecents support my Listenwise subscription?
Teachers can raise funds for Listenwise through the Pledgecents platform:
- Sign up via pledgecents.com/signup/partner/listenwise
- Create your cause and submit for approval
- Spread the word and raise funds
- Receive access to Listenwise Premium once funds are raised
How long does it take to sign up and raise money?
It takes just a few seconds to sign up and up to 30 days to raise funds.
What happens once funds are raised?
As soon as your funds are raised we will automatically activate your subscription.
What if I don’t see my school on Pledgecents?
You can easily add your school by clicking “I don’t see my school.” The Pledgecents team will verify and approve your school in less than 48 hours.
How much does it cost to use Pledgecents?
It is 100% free to sign up to create your cause.
What happens if I don’t meet my goal?
With Pledgecents you keep whatever you raise. You will receive an email to notify you of the next steps once your cause is complete.