Go To Listenwise Listenwise

by guest blogger: Carolina Buitrago, Ed.D.


Social emotional learning (SEL) has unquestionably gained a place in the busy spectrum of educators’ priorities. There is abundant research on the benefits of purposeful SEL work in classrooms and schools for the academic success and general wellbeing of students. However, SEL is a broad domain of development, and educators  may wonder how to integrate it into their day-to-day teaching. Outside of SEL-focused curricula, how might teachers decide where to focus and how? What strategies might promote the development of particular competencies?


The Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning (CASEL) offers useful guidance to help educators be systematic in their efforts to support social and emotional learning. CASEL’s definition of SEL highlights its universal relevance:

“Social and emotional learning (SEL) is the process through which children and adults acquire and effectively apply the knowledge, attitudes, and skills necessary to understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions.” (CASEL)


CASEL has organized contributions from various disciplines and research studies on social and emotional development into a framework that defines five core SEL competencies. These competencies are self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision-making. All of these competencies can and should be developed across classes, schools, families and communities.


The Listenwise collection includes many stories that align with CASEL’s five core SEL competencies. These stories can be used to structure classroom discussions with a particular competency in mind, while also teaching listening, speaking, and other literacy skills. Below is a curated list of stories related to each competency, though many of the stories apply to more than one.


Self-awareness involves identifying emotions, developing an accurate self-perception, recognizing one’s strengths, being self-confident and self-efficacious, and having a sense of optimism and a “growth mindset.” Audio stories can spark conversations about how animals can help us display emotions, how emotions affect what we eat, or how positive messages and supports might help with very negative emotions. Issues of identity can be discussed through addressing how immigration status, physical appearance, or others’ perceptions of us may shape our self-perceptions.


Self-management combines impulse control, effective stress management, self-discipline and self-motivation, goal setting and organizational skills. Audio stories can help students reflect on typical causes of teen stress  and on how the body responds to stress. Stories of people whose strength and grit helped them overcome adversity, including poverty, hurricanes, homelessness, illnesses and fires, can illustrate what can be accomplished through perseverance and self-motivation.


Social awareness means being able to take someone else’s perspective, experiencing empathy for others, appreciating diversity, and respecting others, including those from diverse backgrounds and cultures. Students can listen to stories about how books such as Harry Potter and Anna Karenina or virtual reality can inspire empathy. They can learn from stories about acts of kindness that can make a big difference in the lives of others, such as supporting someone who lost a parent or a home or helping after a hurricane. Stories can help students reflect on the value of diversity and expand their social awareness by learning about people engaged in volunteerism, activism, and social justice efforts.


Relationship skills include the ability to communicate clearly, engage socially, build satisfying and healthy relationships, and effectively work in teams. Students can learn from a group of college students who worked as a team to develop an innovative invention, or listen to how the work that ants do together can teach lessons about collaboration. To learn about effective communication with others, students can consider the nature of apologies and which kinds best reflect our intent to make amends. They can also reflect on what builds strong friendships as they listen to how a 6-year-old boy did something for his friend that made a big impact.


Responsible decision-making includes being able to identify problems; analyze, reflect on, and evaluate situations; and develop a larger sense of ethics and social norms. Audio stories can help students learn about how some choices may have lifelong consequences or how to make consistent choices to ensure their success. They can also analyze and evaluate school policies or consider how to responsibly use technology at their disposal.


Listening to the voices of real people in stories like these and discussing how they relate to students’ lives can help to facilitate SEL while building listening skills. We encourage you to continue exploring Listenwise’s story collection using CASEL’s five core SEL competencies as your compass. You may also be interested in a webinar co-hosted by Listenwise and Facing History and Ourselves about teaching current events with an SEL lens.


We welcome your comments about how you use Listenwise to support students’ social and emotional learning.


Happy listening!

Img source: https://www.scholastic.com/teachers/collections/teaching-content/presidents-day-classroom/


This blog was edited on February 7, 2019.

We celebrate President’s Day in February to honor George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, two important U.S. Presidents who were born in February, making it a great month to examine the presidency from many different angles. Look below for some resources to support learning about and discussing U.S. Presidents in your classroom.


Listenwise President’s Day Audio

Ask students to discuss how George Washington set the standard for the role of president after listening to George Washington: His Finest Act. Discuss his role in the birth of the nation with an American Revolution museum tour and the story about Origins of July 4th. Listen to a story about Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, and revisit the night Lincoln was assassinated.


For a more modern perspective on the presidency, check out these six stories about 20th and 21st century presidents:.



Compare and contrasts the legacies of two very different presidents through discussing President Buchanan and Dred Scott and The Legacy of LBJ and Civil Rights. Listen to The Truman Doctrine to hear about Truman’s foreign policy, and listen to FDR’s New Deal Speech for a story about FDR’s most famous program.


Listenwise Audio on U.S. Government and Civics

These stories also address the U.S. presidency and associated issues and topics, such as elections, executive powers, and checks and balances:

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.


Did you know that NPR is running their first-ever student podcasting contest?!

What do you have to do to participate? Have students produce a podcast that is 3-12 minutes long.

Contest entry closes on March 31, 2019. You can get all the eligibility details and the submission form and guidelines here.  

Whether you are planning to submit a podcast for the challenge or have just been thinking about getting started with podcasting in your classroom, there are many easy ways to get started. Anyone with access to a mobile phone or computer can create a podcast seamlessly. This means that the necessary tools are in the hands of students. Podcasts can be a vehicle for students to explore their passions and find their voices, and the creative process fosters ownership of learning, develops higher order skills, and deepens understanding.

If you are looking for a comprehensive toolkit to help you with the technical side of classroom podcasting (and sample student podcast examples), download our free Teacher’s Guide to Podcasting in the Classroom. This is a great place to start planning your project. The guide incorporates these blog posts:

Another comprehensive resource is this webinar, “Creating Podcasts in Class,” where our CEO (who is a former broadcast journalist) walks through the process of podcasting in class with a teacher, Mike Godsey, who shares insights from the classroom. This recording offers great tips for before, during, and after podcast recording, as well as authentic examples and reflections from a teacher who podcasts with his students.

Lastly, as you and your students are thinking about potential topics on which to focus original podcasts, you can invite them to listen to some of these great student journalist podcasts to spark ideas: Aging Out of Foster Care,  Promposals,  and Growing Up A Single Mom.

You can find additional student podcasts in our list of Youth Radio stories. Any of these story formats could work for this podcast contest.

Here is a simple student podcast example in an interview format:

Happy podcasting! Stay tuned for an upcoming blog post with more podcasting resources…


Many teachers would like to teach current events but do not feel that they have time to incorporate them into an already jam-packed curriculum. There are many ways, however, to optimize instructional time by integrating learning about current events with other learning goals, such as developing Common Core skills related to listening and speaking, as well as reading and writing. Listenwise stories can also help to address Common Core key shifts, critical thinking, and SEL skills.  

In a previous blog post, we discussed the importance of setting up a safe space for discussions about current events and shared supports for ensuring that students are comfortable speaking up and expressing differing opinions. In this blog post, we share practical routines for incorporating current events into your teaching once a week (or more frequently) in ways that advance other learning goals as well.


1) Do Now/Bell-Ringer

Open class once a week with a current event. Ask students to listen to the story and then answer the listening comprehension questions independently or hold a brief class discussion using the questions as a guide.

  • Ask students to listen to the audio story Martin Luther King, Jr. Inspires Service and write answers to these two questions:
    • What is meant by describing Martin Luther King, Jr. Day as “a day on, not a day off”?
    • According to the story, how did the garden service project benefit the volunteers?

Then, to help students connect Martin Luther King’s legacy to their own lives, ask them to discuss this question:

    • Why do you think Congress designated Martin Luther King, Jr. Day as a day of service?


2) Exit Ticket

Close class once a week by playing a current event story and asking students to respond to a couple of listening comprehension questions or a discussion theme question as an exit ticket to submit before leaving class. This can provide a helpful way to informally gauge students’ listening comprehension skills and understanding of events and civic issues that are important in the world outside of school.

  • Ask students to listen to the audio story Human Impact of Government Shutdown and respond to the following question as an exit ticket:
    • If you could talk to the woman interviewed for this story, what would you say to her?

This can also be a good way support development of empathy and other SEL skills.


3)  Think/Pair/Share

Use current events to engage students in small and large group discussions where they can practice and develop speaking and listening skills outlined in the Common Core. Think/Pair/Share is a simple, yet powerful routine for engaging students in conversation that deepens their thinking.

  • Ask students to listen to the audio story The Real Costs of War and then to Think/Pair/Share in response to the following question:
    • Why does the researcher say that the current U.S. counterrorism strategy may be “a failure of imagination”?


4) Student Choice: 5Ws

Invite students to choose one current event from the week to listen to and summarize using the 5 W’s of journalism (who, what, where, when, and why). This activity can help students with identifying the main idea and summarizing, which are critical comprehension skills that are relevant to all subjects and modes of accessing information (e.g., reading, listening, viewing) and also to planning informational writing. Inviting students to choose a story of interest can help to personalize learning.

  • Ask students to choose any of the week’s current events and identify the following:
    • Who was involved?
    • What happened?
    • Where did it happen?
    • When did it happen?
    • Why did it happen?


5) Debate Fridays

Use Listenwise’s Friday debate stories to invite students to discuss issues that are being debated in the public sphere. This can help students develop their capacity to think critically, reason logically, and support claims with evidence–all important Common Core skills. A previous blog post offers some tips on how to facilitate engaging and thought-provoking debates inspired by Listenwise stories. Facing History and Ourselves provides additional ideas for how to exercise students’ argumentation skills.


Current events address topics related to science, social studies, and the humanities and can help students understand the relevance of what they are learning. As Listenwise teacher advocate Jim Bentley says:

A current event–whatever the topic–is an opportunity to read, think, listen, discuss. It’s a content portal depending on the topic. If it’s a science story about recent climate change conferences or a political story about border walls impeding trade, it’s a chance to connect content or skills in standards to something current.

This is just a sampling of activities you might use to build understanding of current events while affording students opportunities to practice critical literacy skills. If you have others, please share them in the comments.  


New Lessons to Kick Off 2019 Listenwise in Style


Here at Listenwise, our content team is committed to providing a diverse array of stories and instructional supports for those stories. With that in mind, we would like to present to you some new Listenwise stories to get 2019 started.

ELA Lessons

Next month is Black History Month, and you might be addressing themes related to race and identity. Check out the lesson below to spark discussion about these topics among your students. And while you’re at it, check out our updated collection of stories for Black History Month.

Who Can Call Themselves Brown

Listen to this audio story to learn about why some Asian Americans do or do not consider themselves “brown” and how the way others view them affects their lives.

Are you looking for a way to link Homer’s Odyssey to today’s world? Check out this story about a scholar’s quest to do just that.

Father and Son Go On Their Last Odyssey Together

Listen to this audio story to hear a Homer scholar discuss a trip he made with his father not long before the older man’s death.


Here are other new ELA lessons. Click on the names to check them out on Listenwise.


Social Studies Lessons

Getting students excited to study the past is not always easy. This next story provides an engaging way to help students see how history shapes the present.


Food Safety Regulations of the 19th Century -Listen to hear how one American chemist conducted daring experiments to publicize the damage that tainted food could cause, and how this transformed food safety regulations forever.



If your students seem lacking in agency or unsure of how they might make their way in the world, inspire them to begin pursuing their professional goals with this story about a highly motivated teen

Teen Entrepreneur -Listen to learn how a 14-year-old became a real estate entrepreneur.


Here are some other new social studies lessons. Click on the names to check them out on Listenwise.


As always, if you are looking for stories related to specific topics and can’t find what you’re seeking on our site, please let us know. We aim to continue building our collection with relevant stories that are tied to your teaching. Please share your thoughts with us in comments or via email (support@listenwise.com).

(Originally published on March 19, 2017 and updated January 17, 2019)

March is Women’s History Month. Do you know the history of Women’s History Month? In 1980, a consortium of women’s groups and historians, led by the National Women’s History Project, successfully lobbied for national recognition. In February 1980, President Jimmy Carter issued the first Presidential Proclamation declaring the Week of March 8th, 1980 as National Women’s History Week.

Use these Listenwise audio stories this month to help students learn about the accomplishments of amazing women of all ages, cultures, races, and abilities. Expand your students’ knowledge of the contributions of women around the world.

Browse the many additional women’s stories in Listenwise  in our Women’s History Collection.


       Shirley Jackson’s Life as an Author


        Before Helen Keller


           A Guide to Florida: From Zora Neale Hurston



              Harriet Beecher Stowe


               A Letter from Phillis Wheatley


               Black Women Math Heroes at NASA


            Origins and Relevance of the ‘Feminine Mystique’


              Themes of Belonging: Sandra Cisneros


            Joan of Arc’s Influence Still Shines Today


               First African Woman To Win Peace Prize


Current Events

      19-Year-Old Representative Takes Office

       Pro Athlete To Nun

     Artistic Expression through Domestic Dolls

       Big Election Gains for Women

         Ida O’Keeffe Escapes Her Sister’s Shadow

         Female Hockey Players Fight for Fair Wages

         First Female Boston Marathon Runner

            More Women Say # MeToo

            Nellie Bly and Her Journalism Career

           Amelia Earhart’s Flight

          Sandra Day O’Connor on the Supreme Court 

        Madeleine Albright

            The First Female Computer Programmer

             Women on the Money

            First Female Nominee for President

           Debate: Is Wonder Woman a Good Ambassador for Women’s Issues?



Other Resources/Lessons

Share My Lesson collection

Teaching Tolerance Resources

Facing History Resources

Find Feminist books and resources at Click! 

Ed History blog resources






Remember that we did the Fact or Fake Listenwise Scavenger Hunt in November during Media Literacy Week? Well, it was a hit!

We had over 2,400 students from all over the country participate in the scavenger hunt. Students followed the clues around Listenwise, heard from a fake news creator, learned how to better spot fake news and hopefully had fun along the way!

Congratulations to the contest winners who received classroom sets of headphones and Amazon gift cards:


Highest Teacher Class Score: Bryan Eifert from Pico Canyon Elementary School in CA

    • 98% correct with 29 submissions


Most Submissions: Mary Inglish from Rosemont Middle School in Glendale USD, CA

    • 175 submissions in 6 classes


And our Random Winner: Kristen Mater from Rockwood Summit High School in MO


Thanks to all who participated!


We are excited to share a free download to a new instructional toolkit. The toolkit contains sample strategy lessons focusing on two of the eight listening comprehension skills that are assessed via Listenwise quizzes (understanding vocabulary and identifying main idea).  These strategy lessons have been developed by Dr. Michael Opitz, co-author of Listen Hear! in collaboration with Listenwise.



Our aim is to support teachers in responding to student quiz data by teaching the 8 key listening comprehension components explicitly (see skills listed below). We plan to develop and share other strategy lessons like these, and we would welcome any feedback you might have about the usefulness of these materials.

What’s the purpose of the toolkit?

This toolkit offers listening comprehension strategies that can be used in a variety of contexts with a multitude of audio stories, along with sample lessons based on audio stories from the Listenwise collection.


What’s included in the toolkit?

  • Broadly applicable instructional strategies for addressing two listening comprehension skills: understanding vocabulary and identifying the main idea.
  • Sample lessons for teaching each strategy featuring audio stories from the Listenwise collection.


With 2018 in the books, it’s a good time to reflect on the year’s experiences. At Listenwise, we found ourselves working hard and having fun while doing it throughout 2018. Our hard work was rewarded by being a CODiE award finalist for the second year in a row and by having the top blog resource on Share My Lesson. Our library of audio stories continued to grow this year, and we were able to offer two exciting listening contests. Our Listenwise team and teacher advocate community also grew this year. Below we recap some of the exciting moments of the year on both our website and in the Listenwise community.



Celebrating The Listenwise Community

In 2018, we saw the Listenwise community grow in many ways! 

We officially launched our teacher advocate program and are so excited to see how it continues to grow. The program has gotten off to a great start. If you are looking for new lesson ideas, check out this blog post that highlights some of our Advocates’ favorite lessons and explains how they incorporate Listenwise into their classroom practice.

We were able to visit with many of our Advocates at conferences and look forward to doing even more of that in 2019.  We also were able to host a podcasting workshop at our office with Advocate Erik Eve and his class. Read the blog recap of the hurricane podcasting project we did together.

If you want to learn more about who our Advocates are or are interested in joining this group, check out the Listenwise Advocate Program homepage.

Another exciting part of 2018 has been listening to Talk Sup, our podcast focused on sharing superintendents’ stories. Getting to know why superintendents do the work they do and what keeps them going has energized us all year. Check out episode 9 to hear what drives La Mesa-Spring Valley Schools’ superintendent David Feliciano and what role Mr. Rogers played in keeping him motivated. Stay tuned for our upcoming spring series of Talk Sup launching on January 13.

Listen to our CEO, Monica Brady-Myerov, share her reflections on 2018:


Some Listenwise Favorites from 2018


Blog Posts

Comparing CAASPP and ELPAC Listening Assessments

Stories for Women’s History Month

Teaching Resources for MLK Day

Lessons for the Winter Olympics



13 Reasons Why Not

Greek Mythology Summer Camp

How We Learn Language

Scrolls of the Articles of Confederation

The Students’ Perspective On Gun Violence In Schools



Debate: Should Schools Hold Student Cell Phones?

Debate: Should Electric Scooters Be Allowed in Cities

Debate: Are Toy Stores Necessary?


And, here are some great blogs and articles that featured us in 2018:


Please share with us any exciting 2018 podcasts or teaching resources you love.

Get ready for more engaging and informative stories in 2019! Every year is full of new challenges and new triumphs just waiting to be had. With that said, Happy New Year!


New Approaches to Literacy

For Title I Schools

Sponsored by Listenwise


Our mission is to inspire individuals to fulfill their potential through the power of listening. But we know that not every school can afford the necessary tools to improve literacy for everyone. That’s why we’re offering a New Approaches to Literacy grant for Title I schools. Zip code should not be a barrier to student success!

In order to move the needle on literacy achievement, we need to rethink literacy instruction. Listening needs to be a core part of literacy instruction and implemented across the curriculum.


Call for proposals: Are you a Title I school implementing innovative teaching practices? Share your passion for building listening & literacy skills and you could win Listenwise PREMIUM access for your whole school for the 2019 – 2020 school year.
Eligibility: Open to any Title I secondary schools with students who could benefit from auditory learning, practicing literacy skills, and curriculum connections to current events. **anyone can apply across the U.S. Listenwise is best for grades 5-12

What is included? The grant includes school site access to Listenwise Premium for the 2019-2020 school year. Awards cover up to 25 educators plus onboarding, over a $7000 value.  

APPLY HERE: http://ow.ly/6F1e30mHNJk


Submission Deadline NOW EXTENDED: February 15, 2019
Winners will be notified directly by the end of February 2019


Questions? info@listenwise.com
PDF Download to share with colleagues