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Teach StoriesThat Spark Emotions (1)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:

Happy Listening!

ListenwiseBacktoSchoolBack-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.

Here’s how:

  1. Listen to an engaging Listenwise story with your whole class.
  2. Ask one of our thought-provoking questions from the lesson.
  3. Give students some time to think about the question on their own.
  4. 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.
  5. 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!)

What’s new?

    • 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 info@listenwise.com to send comments/stories, etc.

ProductUpdatesGraphicWe 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!

fundlistenwiseIt’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:


  1. 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!


  1. 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.


  1. 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.


  1. 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.


  1. Grants

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.

Listenwise - 1 week out (1)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:

  1. Sign up via pledgecents.com/signup/partner/listenwise
  2. Create your cause and submit for approval
  3. Spread the word and raise funds
  4. 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.

Listenwise LinkedIn

We have exciting news to share. Starting today Listen Current is now called Listenwise!

For some time now we’ve had a mission to bring current events teaching into the classroom with compelling real world public radio stories and podcasts. We will continue to bring the authentic listening experiences to your students, but with our name shift to Listenwise, we are now growing our focus on building valuable and lasting listening skills for 21st century learning.  We are about listening, literally.

Why did we change our name?

This updated brand name brings forward the company values of the importance of teaching listening skills to impact college and career readiness. Listening comprehension is fundamental to literacy – if you don’t have good listening comprehension skills, you won’t have strong reading skills. That’s what the research shows. We want all kinds of students to be able to listen effectively, both native speakers and English learners.

How does this new name affect your user interactions with us? It shouldn’t.

You and your students will be able to sign in with the same login credentials as you did before – you will just be logging in at listenwise.com

Here are some things you can do to make this an easy transition:

Stay tuned for some more exciting product updates in August for back-to-school!

Happy Listening!

– The Listenwise Team
Formerly known as the Listen Current team 🙂

vocabularyHow did you learn vocabulary when you were in school? You may remember long lists of complicated words and hours spent memorizing obscure definitions. As adults, you may now understand language as living, growing, and ongoing rather than something with definite meanings and boundaries. We want students to have as many experiences as possible to appreciate and engage in rich language.

Understanding vocabulary is well-documented as important to school success and reading comprehension. Receptive vocabularies, or what can be understood when listening, can be at least two grade levels higher than a student’s expressive vocabularies.  

Using Listenwise provides the opportunity to stretch student language. Here’s how it works:



In order to understand some lessons, there are precise, subject-specific words students need to know. Providing direct instruction of words in these subject areas is necessary for understanding the content. However, listening to read-alouds, discussion, and independent reading have all been shown to increase vocabulary growth.

Reading, listening to and engaging in a high volume of language is very important in vocabulary development. So, the best practices include a variety of methods to teach vocabulary.



Our stories have interactive transcripts that progress in sync with the audio and highlight the words as they are read. Language subtitling is a powerful way to support literacy since it contributes to word recognition and word comprehension skills. This allows students to follow along and hear vocabulary words used in meaningful ways.


Context Clues

Learning new words in context can lead to deeper, more enduring understanding. It’s been shown that students can learn the meaning of unknown words through incidental exposure when listening.

To encourage students to take advantage of context clues, ask: Was there a restatement or a synonym in the sentence that help you find the meaning? How do certain phrases, like “for example” or “unlike,” help us understand unfamiliar vocabulary?  

Listenwise lessons provide teachers with more than just words in context. Some lessons for example, come with vocabulary listening activities and others provide learners with information about idioms, revealing how language can be used in both literal and figurative ways.


Repeated Exposure

Vocabulary instruction should provide students with opportunities to encounter words repeatedly and in a variety of contexts. Listening multiple times and repeated reading demands additional instructional time, but research shows the increase in word learning makes a difference for students.


Academic Vocabulary

With Listenwise, vocabulary instruction does not only happen in ELA lessons. Instead, lessons across subject areas provide opportunities to discover new words. Our lessons identify and define tier 2 vocabulary words on Academic Word Lists. These are high frequency words that students will see throughout their school career such as predict, justify, evaluate, compare, and are critical for educational success.

When students focus on vocabulary from our audio stories, they learn how words may have different connotations depending on the sentence or situation. For example, the word reservation might mean “to book a room”, or “land set aside,” or “doubt” depending on the subject area in which it’s used.
Listenwise vocabulary activities encourage deep, meaningful engagement with new words. Take advantage of our lessons as you help your students build valuable and lasting literacy skills.

Written By: Monica Brady-Myerov, CEO and Founder, Listenwise

bookstoryStorytelling is powerful. If you want someone to really listen to you – tell a good story. It’s that simple. I know this because I wrote stories as a public radio reporter for 25 years.  Research shows students become engaged and better listeners, just by hearing a compelling narrative.

I say it’s simple, but really storytelling is part science, part arc, and part magic.


To tell a good story you need to really know it inside and out. And that takes research and time.  You have to know everything about the story before you begin your first interview. Sure, there will be surprises and twists and turns and you should be open to them, but good solid research builds a solid foundation for a story.

I remember the series of stories I did on the state of children’s mental health services. It began with extensive research to select the right stories to tell. In one story about parent’s treatment choices I wove together two families’ stories in a way that would make a compelling story.

Former WBUR reporter Curt Nickish says his storytelling begins with his research.

“I know what the story will be before I begin interviewing,” says Nickish because the story is inherent to his reporting.


Stories work best when there is a narrative arc. That means a clear beginning, middle and end. Again it sounds simple, but you want that beginning to sweep in your listener, you want the middle to build to a crescendo and the end to feel satisfying.

Serial podcast creator Sarah Koenig told Terry Gross on “Fresh Air” that she lets the reporting drive the story.  Serial investigated the murder of high school student and how her ex-boyfriend was convicted of her murder. But the podcast examines whether or not he really did it. The tale unravels like a ball of yarn. Just when you think  you know he is innocent or you are convinced he’s guilty, another turn of the ball of yarn lets a strand fall loose.

Koenig told Fresh Air she produced the story one week at a time, rather than plotting out the entire story.  This allowed the story to develop the narrative arc as her reporting went along. In the 12 part series the story takes many twists and turns as we hear Koenig bring in new evidence to consider and change her mind over the course of her reporting.


Capturing the magic of the story is what can really make it shine. People relate to emotions, so it’s important to capture those when you are creating the magic.

“It’s about people and their interests and their issues going through life. That’s how people relate,” says reporter Nickish.

A story that Nickish says highlights this technique is his profile of a tech entrepreneur who is trying to make nuclear power safer after experiencing the Japanese earthquake in 2011.  The story immediately grabs your attention and then explores the entrepreneur’s life and what motivated him to focus on nuclear power.

Another technique is telling the story around an antidote followed by a moment of reflection to create a magic moment. That’s how Ira Glass, creator and host of This American Life  puts together his stories.

“We structure stories like that over and over and over,” Glass told The Current.

Mixing these elements of science, arc and magic can be difficult but so rewarding when you hit the right storytelling note.

Try teaching with stories. Have students listen to podcasts, make documentaries, write creative stories, or even create their own story narratives in comic book form. The possibilities with using stories in the classroom are endless.