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Monday February 19, 2018 is President’s Day when we celebrate George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, the two U.S. Presidents who were born in February. Use these resources to teach your students about the constitutional legacy of George Washington and how our nation was transformed by Abraham Lincoln’s fight for liberty.


Listenwise President’s Day Audio

Here are Listenwise stories that you can assign and discuss, or listen to together with your students. Have students discuss how George Washington set the standard for the role of president in the story, George Washington: His Finest Act. Discuss the American Revolution with this story, and the Origins of July 4th with these stories. Listen to a story about the Gettysburg Address, and revisit the night Abraham Lincoln was assassinated.


Other Resources for President’s Day

We the People: The Citizen & the Constitution

Use these lessons to engage students in learning about these presidents and how they shaped history.


Presidents’ Day: A Life Lesson for Students

This lesson has students think about what they would do if they were President of the U.S. and guides thinking and discussion of issues they care about and would fight to promote.


Lincoln’s Crossroads

This interactive animated game prompts students to decide on issues and get advice and then see how their choices aligned to Lincoln’s actions.


Branches of Power Game

This game from iCivics allows students to make choices about laws and control all three branches of government.


President’s Day Videos

These videos from History.com help students learn more about the presidents.


The First President

Listen to this NPR discussion of George Washington and why it was said upon his death, “First in war, first in peace and first in the hearts of his countrymen.”


Listenwise Audio on U.S. Government and Civics


While you cheer on your favorite athletes in Pyeongchang, you can take part in our Listenwise Listening Olympics!

To participate, have your students listen to our Current Event stories every day of the Olympics- between February 12th and February 23rd. Our competition will be in the form of a Listening Olympics quiz at the end of the two weeks. The questions will be based on the news stories heard on Listenwise over the two weeks of the Olympics.

Assign the quiz to your students and you could win Bose headphones!!

Be sure to play the Listening Olympics opening ceremony audio story with your class to get them excited about participating and learn more about the competition.

Students can take the listening news quiz from Friday, February 23rd through March 2nd.

The more you and your students listen, the better the chance you have of winning! In the Olympic spirit, we will award Gold, Silver, and Bronze medals based on the top quiz scores and highest student participation! Did we mention you could win Bose headphones, a set of classroom headphones and Listenwise swag?!

Get those ears ready for some listening.


Who can participate? Everyone using Listenwise Premium. All grades are welcome.

**Be sure to have your 30-day trial of Premium— if you are a free user and want to partake in the contest, click “Start 30-Day Free Trial” on your dashboard.




How to participate:

  • When to listen: Listen to the upcoming current events Monday February 12 – Friday February 23. You don’t have to listen on the day the new current event is posted – you can go back and listen to the stories at the end of the two weeks.
  • When to take the quiz: The quiz will be released on Friday February 23 and you will have until Friday March 2 to have your class submit answers.
  • Contest ends: 11:59 pm EST on March 2 – all quizzes need to be submitted by midnight on March 2.


How to officially enter the contest: No Need to Sign up!

Students submissions of the Listening Olympics quiz in Listenwise will be your contest entries. Simply assign this quiz to students in your existing classes. If you need help getting started, check out our Teacher Support Center to find out how to add students to Listenwise. Then assign the Listenwise Olympics quiz to your students anytime from February 23 through March 2.

We only accept one quiz per student account – no retests. Quizzes must be submitted by March 2 to be entered to win.


How to win: Winners will be determined by student quiz performance in Listenwise and student participation. Be on the lookout for fun social media prizes for participation.


What you can win:

In the Olympic spirit, we will award Gold, Silver and Bronze prizes to contest participants based on the top quiz scores and highest student participation!

    • Gold Medal: Awarded to the classroom with the best overall student performance → 1 pair of Bose headphones and classroom set of headphones/earbuds
    • Silver Medal: Awarded to the classroom with the most student quiz submissions  → Classroom set of headphones/earbuds
    • Bronze Medal: Awarded to engaged social users tweeting pictures of them partaking in the #listeningolympics → Prizes include Listenwise bag and t-shirt


Be sure to follow us on twitter @listenwiselearn, tweet using the #listeningolympics hashtag and be on the lookout for opportunities to win Listenwise swag.

We are thrilled to announce our new partnership with NPR’s Planet Money! Planet Money is an award-winning NPR podcast that explains aspects of the economy with interesting, relevant stories that captivate audiences across the country–and now you can access that great content on Listenwise!


Through this partnership we are offering economics stories and lessons aimed at high school students. Topics include the stock market, inflation, government spending, the Federal Reserve and much more. These stories are a great way to inform students about important economic systems, institutions, and issues facing the United States.


Here are some Planet Money stories currently available on Listenwise:


We currently have 12 economics stories on our website and you can find the stories by searching “Planet Money” in the search bar on the top right of our website. Be on the lookout for more upcoming lessons!


Happy Listening!

(Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

The 2018 Winter Olympics are coming up! Are you as excited as we are?!


The Winter Olympic Games are a time to watch the best of the best athletes excel in their sport. They are held every four years, and include events such as the biathlon, bobsled and skeleton, curling, figure skating, hockey, luge, ski and snowboard, and speedskating.


Get your students engaged in real world events they enjoy and bring the 2018 PyeongChang Games into your classroom. Below are some ideas and resources to help you do so.


Do you know why the Olympics started and how they have evolved to modern day? Watch this PBS Learning Media video.


Here are some Listenwise stories about the Sochi winter Olympics to listen to with your class. Keep an eye out for more upcoming current events on Listenwise.


These are resources from other sources that you can use while teaching the Winter Olympics.


Explore other NPR stories and answer these questions.


The Olympic Charter states: ‘No kind of demonstration or political, religious or racial propaganda is permitted in the Olympic areas.’ However, the history of the Olympics have included protests and boycotts.


Connect the Olympics with the political climates of different regions and time periods.

Did you know that the Berlin Olympics were the first to be televised…sort of? Connect your current Olympic discussions to past Olympic history: Nazis Pioneered Broadcasting… And Made Jesse Owens A Star

Why We Commemorate MLK Day

Embracing Dr. King’s philosophy and strategy of nonviolence to eliminate poverty, racism and violence, The King Center is dedicated to Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy.

We encourage you to read the full eloquent article written by Coretta Scott King, to get a full picture of why we take a day to celebrate and honor Martin Luther King Jr. Read this excerpt below.

“The Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday celebrates the life and legacy of a man who brought hope and healing to America. We commemorate as well the timeless values he taught us through his example — the values of courage, truth, justice, compassion, dignity, humility and service that so radiantly defined Dr. King’s character and empowered his leadership.

The King Holiday honors the life and contributions of America’s greatest champion of racial justice and equality, the leader who not only dreamed of a color-blind society, but who also lead a movement that achieved historic reforms to help make it a reality. On this day we commemorate Dr. King’s great dream of a vibrant, multiracial nation united in justice, peace and reconciliation; a nation that has a place at the table for children of every race and room at the inn for every needy child. We are called on this holiday, not merely to honor, but to celebrate the values of equality, tolerance and interracial sister and brotherhood he so compellingly expressed in his great dream for America…”

Teaching Tolerance also says it well, “Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday is an opportunity to tell a nuanced story about a complicated man and movement.” As educators this is an opportunity to delve into teaching about related current events and the past, tied to civil rights movements, race relations, and equity.


Listenwise Resources for Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Use our large collection of public radio stories to supplement your Martin Luther King Day lessons and dive into the achievements and beliefs of Martin Luther King, Jr. while learning more about the civil rights movement. Listen to these great stories and ask your students these questions:

Using public radio stories, with first person audio is a great way to bring conversations about past protests into current experiences. Use these stories to compare protests now with those in the past, discuss what are effective protests when faced with oppression, and compare Black Lives Matter to the Civil Rights movement. Protests in the 1960s included lunch counter protests, Little Rock Nine, and Selma.

Civil Rights protests now include the protests of police taking Freddie Gray’s life, Michael Brown’s life, Alton Sterling’s life, Philando Castile’s life, Tamir Rice’s life and Anthony Lamar Smith’s life. Other protests of racial injustice include protests of Charlottesville, student protests at Universities, and the NFL protest, Take a Knee.


Martin Luther King Jr. Day Resources from Other Organizations

Teaching Tolerance has many resources for MLK day including the do’s and don’ts of celebrating MLK day and From MLK to #BlackLivesMatter: A Throughline for Young Students.

Explore this Edutopia collection of lesson plans, curricula, and multimedia resources for teaching the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Check out the #sojustedu conversation on twitter to find more resources and join this conversation further.

Learn more about Martin Luther King’s radical vision by the Zinn Education project.

Lessons, resources, and workshops about the modern African American Freedom Struggle and King’s vision of a just and peaceful world can be found in this curriculum by Stanford University.

Martin Luther King Jr. Day is also a great time to reflect on how you are incorporating his beliefs into your everyday teaching. Caitrin Blake wrote a great article on social justice education, and how to teach the the principles of social justice focusing on building a society in which everyone has equal access to resources and receives equitable treatment regardless of their race, gender, religion, sexuality, income level or disability. This Edutopia article by Dr. Tabitha Dell’Angelo highlights a few of the ways you can bring social justice teaching into your classroom, through the importance of teaching issues that connect to your students lives.

We’ve published many new stories recently. Choose a topic and share these stories with your students!


Education Around the World


Access to education varies all around the world, and especially for women and girls. Listen to this story to hear how school for girls in Kabul has become more accessible, but is still not where it should be. Listen to this interview with the author of the book, The Kids of Kabul and learn more about the challenges faced by Afghan children and women, especially in the area of education. Education for girls is lacking in other places as well. Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani teenager who was shot by the Taliban, showed the world just how difficult it is to receive an education as a female in Pakistan. Listen to an audio story about girls who are fighting for their rights to an education in Pakistan despite dangerous obstacles and a lack of support and finances. This current event lets you hear from two women attending University now that ISIS occupation ended in Mosul, Iraq, as they describe their goals.


An Author’s Life


Do you ever wonder what an author’s life was like outside of their writing? Listen to this story of Samuel Clemens who went under the pen name, Mark Twain, and lived a much more tragic life that Twain’s stories suggest. Another author, Richard Wright, did the opposite and wrote stories, such as Native Son, based on his real-life experiences. Listen to hear from Wright’s daughter discussing her father’s work and how it compares with his real life and her life. Author Orson Welles once staged a radio play that managed to make people believe the world was ending by an alien invasion. Listen to hear how fictional writing has the potential to cause real-life panic. An author’s writing can also shed light on things happening in society. Listen to hear about how Harriet Beecher Stowe‘s anger towards the way people were treated in the 1800s made its way into her famous story, Uncle Tom’s Cabin. For JD Salinger, fame was something he never wanted. However, this story shares how The Catcher in the Rye made Salinger too well known for his liking.


How Stories Still Have An Impact Today

Some stories never lose their popularity as they continue to have an impact on next generations. In “Death of a Salesman”, the character of Willy Loman is still powerful and resonates today. Listen to this story about how Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” was performed in countries around the world over a two year period. The Blind Side, a more recent story, has educated readers on how the offensive left tackle is a crucial part of any American football game, and how the power of kindness can be transformational.


Foods Both Modern and Ancient


Students are planting, growing, and eating food that they make in the backyard of their schools. Listen to learn how easy it is to start growing food like popcorn and why students, and parents, love it. Speaking of popcorn, listen to this story about the history of popcorn and the how it was a snack for the Aztecs long before it became a movie theater favorite.



Did you know Leonardo da Vinci used the scientific method long before historians thought it was discovered? Listen to this story to learn how da Vinci was more than a painter and sculptor. Another recent scientific discovery answers the question of how cats always land on their feet. Listen to this story to find out how cats seem to defy the laws of physics. An engineer who worked on the Challenger space shuttle that exploded 30 years ago, tells about his experience. He emphasizes how essential scientific proof is to make sure a rocket would be safe for take off.


US Government: Amendments

The 13th Amendment was thought to abolish slavery. However, this story hears from the director of a documentary film who explains how mass incarceration is an extension of slavery. The 1st Amendment separates government from religious institutions and the preference for one faith over another. Listen to this 1st Amendment story about the current tax-exempt status of churches, evidence of how our founders dealt with the issue, and the legal challenges of banning immigrants from certain countries.

Wow, 2017 is almost over. We’ve been hard at work this year finding new, fun content, building more lessons, and implementing new features (our listening quizzes!).  So now, at the close of 2017 we want to take a moment to breathe and look back at everything that has happened this year, and thank you for all your support! Below we want to share some successes and big 2017 wins, and celebrate teachers and rock star users!


Let’s celebrate some of our 2017 wins and amazing users!

We are excited to let you know that we now have over 1,000 current events!

This year we built out more teacher pedagogy resources- including a new teacher support center and multiple webinar series, along with really great fake news resources and a podcasting guide for teachers.

We are now used by educators across the U.S and worldwide, supporting 1 MM students (including both Listenwise free and Premium users).

We can’t say it enough, but thank you to you all of our teacher users! We appreciate you! And we are always listening to your feedback. Please keep sharing your ideas and comments and helping us improve so that we can serve you and your students better.

Here are our top five most engaged educators! Thank you!

  1. Kyle Maloney Winchester, MA
  2. Erik Eve Lindenhurst, NY
  3. Mischelle Poulos Orange, CA
  4. Kate Bringardner North Naples, FL
  5. Susan Balogh Brookline, MA


Listen to another high powered teacher user, Benton Lewis and what he finds most helpful about Listenwise.

Our Most Popular Stories of 2017

Check out our most popular stories…

Top 5 Stories of 2017:

  1. Animal Emotions in Literature
  2. Discussing Kindness with “Wonder”
  3. Japanese Knotweed’s Invasive Superpowers
  4. A Delicious Solution to our Energy Problems
  5. Immigrant Experience


Top 3 Friday Debate Stories:

  1. Debate: How Can Students Become Prepared to Spot Fake News?
  2. Debate: Should Fidget Spinners Be Allowed in Classrooms?
  3. Debate: Should a Social Protest Affect Football?


We hope you all have a happy holiday season, whatever holiday you do or don’t celebrate. Take some nice time with friends and family. We’ll be off for the last week of December, and will be back for the new year. Get ready for some more great content (with new partnerships) for 2018! We are excited to have another great year and continue to bring more listening into more classrooms.


Happy New Year!

A recent New York Times article, How to Get Your Mind to Read suggests that Americans are not good readers.  

Many of these poor readers can sound out words from print, so in that sense, they can read. Yet they are functionally illiterate — they comprehend very little of what they can sound out. So what does comprehension require? Broad vocabulary, obviously. Equally important, but more subtle, is the role played by factual knowledge.”


How can we fix this problem of students who aren’t great readers? By teaching listening.

When listening, students develop foundational language skills and learn the meanings of new words, which has been proven to increase reading comprehension. (Hogan, 2011; Cain & Oakhill, 2007). Whether the input is reading or listening, studies show that when students focus on meaning and semantic processes, the same areas of the brain are activated (Booth, 2002).  

Building listening comprehension is the first step to developing a strong reading comprehension skill set. Students have greater understanding when they read about topics that are familiar. Listening can help students gain understanding in a wide variety of topics. Because audio allows students exposure to text that is above their independent reading level, it provides access to ideas and topics that may be out of reach by reading. Students can use audio increase their background knowledge and vocabulary understanding in many different topics, which will help them better comprehend what they are reading.  

What is listening?

“Hearing is a sound; listening is a thought.”

This quote from Opitz and Zbaracki (2004) illustrates that listening is an active process that involves attention and thinking. An important goal for students is recognizing the difference and be able to differentiate when they are listening or merely hearing.

A more academic definition of listening is from the International Listening Association. They define listening as, “the process of receiving, constructing meaning from, and responding to spoken and/or nonverbal messages.”

Where do I start teaching listening?

In most schools, instruction in the skill of listening comprehension gets little attention. Now that state and national assessments are starting to include listening items, it’s important find ways to incorporate listening comprehension practice into lessons. The first thing to do is to remove barriers. The most frequently reported barriers among students according to a study by Golen (1990) are:

  • listening primarily for details or facts;
  • becoming distracted by noise;
  • daydreaming or becoming preoccupied with something else while listening;
  • detouring because of what the speaker has said;
  • lack of interest in the speaker’s subject.

Next, follow the guidelines from a variety of research sources. Be sure the listening content is relevant and authentic with opportunities to develop both top-down and bottom-up processing. Listening strategies should be encouraged and activities should teach listening, not only test listening.

How do I start using Listenwise with students?

When you start using audio with students, think about stories that your students would appreciate. Teaching students how to recognize the power of language, appreciate oral interpretations, and understand the power of imagination are ways to help them become appreciative listeners. This is one of the levels of listening that you can develop in students. This appreciation for listening to stories might also translate to appreciation for reading stories, which can help develop a love of reading. You may want to start with stories that are not directly related to subject topics and develop appreciation for listening.

Here are a few suggestions for lessons using Listenwise audio.


Before listening, set a goal or purpose for listening. Are students listening to gain vocabulary, identify language features, understand the timing of events? Be sure to preview the vocabulary, build background, and set the stage for listening.


While listening, focus on understanding. Stop to check comprehension, take notes using listening organizers, or discuss opinions using classroom discussion questions. Research shows that during a lecture, taking a two-minute break and discussing the most important aspects of the lecture increases student comprehension (Hollingsworth, 1995).


After listening, reflect on new learning. The reflection should tie back to the purpose for listening, but students can also note new thoughts, what was interesting or surprising, or what they still have questions about. Listening multiple times for multiple purposes also increases student stamina and vocabulary learning.


Read about how other teachers are using Listenwise, and how audio can be used to teach content or meet  language and listening goals.


Do you have news overload? Do you need to take a break? Here are interesting stories that you can listen to with students that don’t contain current events. Find stories that feature kindness, giving, equity, social good in communities, and more.


Kids are doing great things. Listen to how these students became environmental activists after they were inspired by kid-centric documentaries: Environmental Kids.  This student was frustrated that so many books she read didn’t reflect her background so she began collecting and donating books with characters of color to schools: Color in Children’s Literature. Listen to how this boy raised over $1million for research to help his friend with liver disease: Helping a Friend.


Adults are also doing great things. Listen to learn about this program that encourages reading while students get their hair cut: Barbershop Promotes Reading.  Learn about a program where dads volunteer at schools to support students and provide a positive male role model: Dads at School . Teachers in Texas have stepped up to provide education for students who were displaced by the hurricane: Teachers Step Up During Hurricane. One young couple decided to open their doors to refugee children in their neighborhood: Refugee Children Found a Home in Dallas.


Graduation and college season is coming up. Listen to the benefits of taking a gap year after high school: Gap Year. This story tells about how students are given credit for being fluent in another language and honored at graduation: Fluency in Second Language Recognized in Diploma. Vocational education can prepare students for well-paying jobs in the trades: Careers in a Skilled Trade. Listen to this student talk about the process of finding and applying for college and view resources that can provide more information about the process: Dreaming of College.


Part of the college application process includes taking exams. Listen to hear about the process in South Korea: Debate: Exam Stress. Some colleges are choosing not to emphasize standardized tests as a way to diversity enrollment. Listen to hear how some colleges are offering admissions without these tests: Debate: Optional Versus Required SAT. And listen to advice on what makes a difference as students write essays for college admission: How to Use Your Voice to Write College Essays.


Listen with your students to hear about what the future of education might look like: Designing the School of the Future. Learn about how stand up desks can improve cognitive function and memory: Stand Up in School. And we also have a few stories about school lunches. There is a trend in Japan to transform lunch ingredients into cute characters: Making Lunch in Japan is High Stakes, and listen to learn how many of our lunch foods were inspired by research for the military during World War II: Military Rations in School Lunches.

Happy Listening!

Teachers_Guide_to_PodcastingHave you wondered how to create podcasts with your students?

Looking for podcasting project ideas?

You may be asking yourself these questions and we have the answers!


We are excited to release a new teacher’s guide to get you started podcasting in your classroom or support your current podcasting efforts if you’ve already started. Learn the benefits of podcasting within this 12 page PDF resource.


Not only is podcasting fun to do, but podcasting supports important 21st century skills for communication, critical thinking, creativity, and collaboration. Your students will love podcasting as a medium to tell their story and share their ideas, all while practicing their speaking and writing skills.


As teachers, this guide will empower you to use podcasting technology and will give you the resources to teach your students to be podcast writers, recorders, and producers.


What’s included in this teacher podcasting guide?


  • Section 1 will explore the benefits of podcasting in your class.
  • Section 2 will explore how to use podcasts in your classroom: with sample classrooms podcasting lesson ideas, along with student podcast examples you can listen to.  
  • Section 3 will walk you through how to teach through a podcast lesson. This section will provide a step-by-step walkthrough on how to structure a podcasting lesson in class and the tools your students can use for producing and publishing a podcast.


Use this guide to get started podcasting in class, or explore more advanced podcasting lesson ideas and topics along with the podcasting tools to get you started. Whether you are a beginner or have already taught podcasting in your classroom, this teacher’s guide will have something for you.