Go To Listenwise Listenwise

Updated Nov 2019

November is National Native American Heritage Month. Teaching students about the culture, traditions, music, art, and world views of indigenous peoples is important to celebrating our shared sense of humanity. Celebrate this month with your students, and check out some Listenwise stories and other resources that could be helpful in bringing Native American heritage into your classroom this month and throughout the year.

Podcast Lessons for Native American Heritage Month

Explore our Listenwise stories that showcase voices and perspectives of indigenous people and discuss themes of culture, identity, stereotyping, racism, and privilege:

Listen to Students from Crow Reservation in Montana

Listen to this podcast to hear students at Crow Agency Public School on the Crow Reservation in Montana debunk myths and stereotypes about Native American life. Fifth grade teacher Connie Michael was inspired to make this podcast with her students after working with teachers at the Smithsonian Museum of the American Indian, where she learned that students across the country had significant misconceptions about life on a reservation:

Other High Quality Resources for Native American Heritage Month

Here are a few more high-quality resources that can help you bring indigenous peoples’ perspectives into your classroom:

As we head into Thanksgiving later this month, it’s important to recognize that, as Teaching Tolerance explains in their Thanksgiving Mourning lesson, “For some Native Americans, Thanksgiving is no cause for celebration, but rather serves as a reminder of the devastating effect of colonialism on indigenous peoples.” They offer valuable resources to use with students to help them think critically about American holidays and history and to read and listen to different perspectives. 

Teaching Tolerance also offers other teaching resources to help promote understanding of the Native American experience. For example, their lesson Teaching Thanksgiving in a Socially Responsible Way raises the point that “Native Americans have been speaking out and writing back against the colonialist narrative of Thanksgiving for as long as the American narrative has existed.” 

Please share with us in comments any other resources that you use to help promote understanding of indigenous peoples’ cultures, histories, and perspectives.

Engaging students in substantive, meaningful discussions that demand critical and creative thinking can be challenging in any instructional context. When the magic happens, however, such conversations can be the stuff of teachers’ most memorable classroom moments. Well-framed, authentic, respectful academic discussions provide opportunities for students to build effective arguments backed with evidence, make connections between someone else’s experiences and their own, or explain their understanding of a complex phenomenon using academic language.

Learning Benefits of Online Discussions

While face-to-face discussions can work well to support the development of important speaking skills and cultivate positive classroom culture in many circumstances, they also have limitations. For example, face-to-face conversations are linear, meaning that only one person can speak at a time. Often, in the spirit of fairness, teachers try to ensure that many students have a chance to contribute to a group discussion, which can have the effect of discouraging back-and-forth exchanges that probe more deeply into a topic and engage students in thinking collaboratively. 

Fortunately, threaded online discussions accommodate that sort of back-and-forth exchange in a way that does not interfere with ensuring equitable participation. In fact, there is no limit to student responses, and students can reply to each other as much as they would like, so multiple conversation threads can develop in response to a single, generative prompt. In addition, some of the social barriers to participating in a face-to-face discussion are removed in an online discussion. Thus, many students who are not comfortable sharing their thoughts orally in class find it easier to contribute when they have some time to compose their ideas and a bit of distance from their classmates. Of course, just as with classroom discussions, it is important to establish guidelines for participating in online discussions, such as being respectful, and to hold students accountable to those guidelines.

Setting Up Online Discussions in Google Classroom

Google Classroom allows teachers to set up online discussions very easily. When viewing a Listenwise story, after clicking “Share Audio” and then “Share link to Google Classroom,” choose a class, and select “Ask question” when prompted to “Choose action.” Add one of the discussion questions from a Listenwise story (or create a new one), and then provide clear instructions to accompany the link to the story. Make sure that “students can reply to each other” and “students can edit answer” are both selected, so students can engage in dialogue after they have shared their initial response and fix any errors once their responses are posted. As with any assignment, add a due date, and then click on “Ask.” It is also possible to do this from Google Classroom by choosing the “Question” option when creating an assignment.

Moderating Online Discussions

It is helpful to provide clear instructions for how students are expected to participate in an online discussion, including expectations for responding to others. Ideally, the prompt should be open-ended and require that students contribute their own ideas and interact with each other constructively. Listenwise discussion questions are designed to generate dialogue about an audio story by engaging students in higher order thinking about important ideas and connecting those stories to their own experiences. To that end, it is helpful to give students room to respond to each other before entering the discussion. When doing so, it can be useful to model the types of interactions expected of students, such as asking clarifying or probing questions, prompting elaboration, or offering counter-arguments or corroborating examples. It is important not to dominate the discussion so that students feel ownership and freedom to express themselves genuinely. 

While the Google Classroom “Question” discussions are not completely threaded, they do indent at the first reply to a student’s response, which helps to track exchanges. 

Assessing Online Discussion Participation

Another benefit of online discussions is that they create artifacts of student work, unlike face-to-face discussions (unless they are recorded). Student participation can be assessed using a rubric such as this one. Online discussions can provide helpful formative assessments, offering a window into student understanding that can inform subsequent instruction. They can also be used as an intermediary step in the writing process, allowing students to work through their ideas in conversation in preparation for an independent writing assignment. For example, students might discuss a topic such as “Can tolerance be taught?” online and then build upon their contributions and develop them into an argumentative essay. 

If you have used Listenwise stories in online discussions with Google Classroom, please let us know in the comments what you did and how it went!

This post is part of our series on App Smashing with Listenwise.

Listenwise podcasts can be paired with Newsela, offering news stories and differentiated multimedia text sets on a wide variety of topics.

We talked with two of our Listenwise Advocates about how they use  Newsela with Listenwise to meet their teaching goals. Andrew Garnett-Cook teaches 7th and 8th grade social studies in Brookline, MA. Laura Krenicki is a 6th grade geography and world cultures teacher in Colchester, Connecticut.

Laura and Andrew explained why they like using Newsela and Listenwise together:

“I find Listenwise and Newsela pair well because both contain reliable and newsworthy human interest stories,” Laura said. “We want students to be able to compare texts and to find valid sources. Since Listenwise uses NPR stories and Newsela uses content from reliable sources, you know the information has been vetted. In addition, they work well when I am compiling text sets or supplemental materials to teach content and perspectives.”

Andrew said, “Both Listenwise and Newsela are resources that allow teachers to incorporate current events. Both resources also offer tools for differentiated learning. On one of my seventh- grade projects, I had students use both Newsela and Listenwise to explore recent research and news stories connected to the topics they were studying.” 

Last year Andrew used Newsela and Listenwise to build students’ research and writing skills with a project on early human development. He told us that he assigned students a topic connected to the study of human development. Students worked in teams to research their assigned topics using a variety of sources, including Listenwise and Newsela. Then, they presented the results of their research to the class. Andrew’s project fostered student agency by asking them to find sources independently using reliable, high quality instructional materials. 

Laura used Listenwise with Newsela in her unit on A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park, where students explored the challenges experienced by refugees. Her goal was to meet Common Core State Standards for 6th grade speaking, listening, and reading. 

Laura created her own text set in Newsela and paired the texts with the following Listenwise podcasts:

Laura’s students were able to make powerful connections to the topic as they listened to authentic voices of refugees and read about the diverse experiences of refugees around the world. They then shared their reflections on Flipgrid.

We asked Andrew and Laura to share tips for other teachers thinking about using Listenwise and Newsela.

Laura emphasized how Newsela and Listenwise can be used to cultivate student agency. “Students appreciate choice!” she said. “If you generate a curated list of articles and podcasts for students, have them all do one or two together, and then offer choice on a third article (or more), they may jigsaw the learning together.” 

Andrew suggested aligning Listenwise Current Events and Newsela News with topics students are already learning as a supplemental resource. He suggested, “Have a good idea of how, for example, current events or other recent news stories can build upon content students are already learning in the classroom.”

What’s the best way to organize Listenwise podcasts and Newsela texts for your students to access? Laura suggested using Wakelet for easy navigation. To find more ideas for using Wakelet with Listenwise, check out our recent blog post about App Smashing Wakelet and Listenwise.

Original blog updated October 2019.

Are you podcasting in your classroom? Podcasting is a great way to provide deeper learning for students and empower them to have their voices heard and shared with a wider audience.  And students love to engage with audio content!


(Updated the infographic- reposted in October 2018)

Podcasting also hits speaking and listening goals and is a cross-curricular activity. Best of all, you don’t need a lot of equipment to get started. The tools you need to help your students create their own podcast stories are in their pockets or their laptops.  This guide will help you select the technical tools your class will need and part 2 of the blog lays out a curriculum of how to teach them to write like a public radio reporter. See below for some student podcast samples, and a checklist of equipment to get you set up to start creating!

Listen to Mr. Godsey’s Class Podcast emulating the podcast Serial:

Find other podcasting project ideas and listen to other student podcasts and teacher reflections on their podcasting projects through the Student Podcast PODCAST (on Spotify, Sticher, and iTunes).

Anchor is a great app that is a great place to get started with all the basics of podcasting. Or, you can check out this list of basic equipment and software that you need to start podcasting (including your computer). Essentially you need 1) a recording devices, 2) audio editing software and 3) a plan to publish the podcast – and you can find low to no-cost options for each:

1) A Recording Device:

Many computers have built-in microphones. This will be useful for recording the student/reporter’s voice but you’ll also need a portable mic.  Students can use their smartphones or you can purchase recorders and microphones.

2) Audio Editing Software

  • Soundtrap – (Mac, PC, Chromebook, iPad) FREE trial, low cost subscriptions for schools
  • Garageband (FREE on Mac only)GarageBand comes pre-installed on most Apple computers. Also free on ipads.

3) A Plan to Publish the Podcasts

If you are looking to go deeper with podcasting professional development submit your interest for a PD course put on by Soundtrap and Listenwise.

All the software is quick and easy to learn, but here are some useful Audacity tutorials for beginners:

If you are creating podcasts in your classroom using different technology and tactics, please share ideas with us in comments!

Want to dig deeper? Check out our Podcasting Part 2 blog for ways to help you think about best practices for preparing interviews and stories, and structuring the format and content of your podcast.  Find more podcasting resources on our teacher support center.

Listenwise has just released Collections! These are curated story collections based on popular themes commonly incorporated into the curriculum and addressed in classrooms across subjects and grade levels. A collection such as “The American Dream,” for example, includes a diverse group of stories that embody a generative theme. They can be used together to illustrate various angles on the theme and promote critical thinking and deep discussion among students. 

Collections are essentially audio text sets, which can be used in a variety of ways. Teachers might select a Collection to accompany a literary text (e.g., Death of a Salesman or A Raisin in the Sun) or a topical curriculum unit (i.g., immigration or civil rights) to diversify perspectives on an important universal theme that transcends time and place. Students might select different stories from within a Collection and then discuss as a group how they are connected to each other and to students’ own experiences. Teachers might assign several stories from within a Collection and then facilitate a discussion about common threads. 

How do I find Collections?

You can browse the Collections page from the Lessons drop-down menu. This is a good way to see the entire set of Collections, explore whether any are well matched to your curriculum, or consider some new ideas for curriculum development.

When you search the Listenwise library using a keyword related to a topic you are teaching, you’ll see related Collections on the search results page. You can also filter by “Collection.” This can help you find stories that you may not otherwise realize could be connected to your curriculum. 

What are the Collection themes?

We have launched Collections with publication of the eight collections below. We plan to add more, so if there’s a theme you would like to see, please let us know.

  • Coming of Age: These stories focus on young people experiencing challenges and triumphs as they grow up in a complicated world.
  • Perseverance: These stories of individual journeys of accomplishment, full of twists and turns, speak to the power of perseverance, no matter what obstacles threaten to block the way. 
  • Seeking Justice: Spanning multiple countries, decades, and causes, these stories address the importance of advocacy by and on behalf of people suffering injustice of any kind.
  • Shaping Identity: This collection focuses on individuals who feel conflict among aspects of their identities and ultimately come to accept themselves and make deliberate choices about who they want to be.
  • Survival: The stories in this collection look to survivors of harrowing experiences for insight into how a singular uncontrollable event can impact the rest of a person’s life.
  • The American Dream: This collection invites consideration of how the idea of the “American Dream” manifests in reality for people of different backgrounds.
  • The Human Connection: This collection explores the potential effects of seemingly simple human interactions, demonstrating how people are linked by their need to make meaning in their lives through relationships. 
  • The Power of Fear: These stories explore a basic human emotion that can be protective or harmful, illustrating the power of fear in a range of circumstances, including its origins and its consequences

Wakelet is a platform that allows educators to capture, organize, and share online teaching and learning resources. You can save any digital content to Wakelet – articles, videos, social media posts, PDFs, images and much more. Educators have been using Wakelet in many different ways, from portfolios to lesson plans, and now for Listenwise assignments! 

Sourcing a Wakelet Collection in Your Listenwise Assignments

One easy place to start is to assign a Listenwise story and incorporate a Wakelet link in the instructions with additional resources to provide further background and context on the topic for students. Alternatively, you could include the creation of a Wakelet collection as part of the assignment, giving students the chance to curate high quality resources as part of their research. This anchors the assignment on one Listenwise story, allowing students to do independent research on the topic. 

This is what it might look like in Listenwise:

Creating Wakelet Collections and Sourcing Listenwise Content

Another way to engage your students in using quality multimedia sources and participating in topical class discussions is to curate your own collections using Wakelet, incorporating Listenwise stories among the included resources.

Here’s what that could look like in Wakelet:

More Ideas for App Smashing Wakelet & Listenwise

Educator, Glen Weibe, wrote a great blog post highlighting effective ways to use Wakelet paired with Listenwise content. Whether you want to students to write argumentative essays, compare and contrast research, or evaluate different news sources covering the same story, you can curate your own Wakelet collection and incorporate Listenwise podcasts into that collection.

You could create a collection with 20 primary sources (Listenwise stories have great primary source audio!) and ask students to create their own collections taking inspiration from yours. From those 20 sources, they might pick 10 and use Wakelet notes to explain why they thought those 10 were the most important, or they could add their own using shared curation criteria. Educator Paul West writes about the importance of teaching students the skills of curation and shares some other fun project ideas. Check out his blog post!

Another route to take is to assign students to develop a curated Wakelet collection that students have sourced themselves (individually or as a group). Matt Miller from DitchThatTextbook wrote a great blog post on how to use the collaboration feature on Wakelet in your classroom. 

This collaborative process can pave the way for some awesome classroom opportunities, like having students analyze the collections of other groups, making peer review suggestions. 

Or, if you have been podcasting in your classroom (or want to start), have students create their own podcasts and pop them into a Wakelet collection when they are done. Then their classmates can listen and respond to the collections themselves. (See how @herplatt is doing that with his English Learners). You can find a variety of resources to support student podcasting projects in the Listenwise support center. 

There are so many great ways to use Listenwise and Wakelet together – as a helpful resource for assignment organization or as a tool for students to create their own projects.

Let us know in the comments how you are using Listenwise and Wakelet together!

Updated September 2019

There is no better time to celebrate the culture and accomplishments of Latino and Hispanic communities than National Hispanic Heritage Month (September 15 – October 15). Here are a few resources to help engage students in exploring significant aspect of the Latino/Hispanic American experience.

If you are looking for text-based resources, this blog post from CommonLit pays tribute to accomplished Hispanic authors, poets, and social activists, with a collection of 9 texts, organized by grade level. This lesson from the New York Times Learning Network can spark meaningful discussion about dedicating a month to “Hispanic Heritage.” A teacher’s guide from EDSITEment offers a variety of relevant instructional resources, and the Library of Congress highlights a broad collection of resources for teachers.

Some points to consider while teaching:

  • Take this opportunity to build empathy among students and discuss the value of diversity.
  • If there are Hispanic or Latino students in your class, do not put them in a position of speaking for all Hispanics or being the authority on all aspects of their culture or history.
  • All nationalities and cultures experience struggles and celebrate achievements. It is important to present a balance of challenges and positive accomplishments.

Listenwise Stories about Latino and Hispanic Experiences:

Stories of Immigration: Immigration policies continue to shift and change. Listen to hear about the experiences and Latino authors Sandra Cisneros, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and Jose Antonio Vargas. Hear the story of an immigrant from Bolivia, a 13-year old migrant from Honduras, and dairy-farm workers from Guatemala, and learn about the system in place for metering migrants at the Mexican-American border.

History and Culture: Hear how students are connecting with their history by taking Field Trips to Study Mexican-American History, and learn about one university professor who is teaching about Mexican culture through tacos.

Current EventsListen to stories about current events in Venezuela, Mexico, and Puerto Rico, as well as historic events, such as the deportation of hundreds of thousands of Mexican-Americans in the 1930s, for which California has recently apologized.

Media Representation: Listen to this story to learn about a comic strip featuring a Latino family that has been running for over 20 years, and hear about this HBO series on Quinceañera celebrations. 

Challenges for Children:  Learn about the difficulties of undocumented parents finding support for their American children, hear the story of two migrant children who were reunited with their mother after 10 years, and learn about the challenges of teaching Spanish to second-generation children, and the changes in DACA protections.

We have a number of exciting events coming up this fall, including Twitter chats, fall webinars, and upcoming conferences! Here they are all in one place.


  • Monday, Sept 16th, join us for #sschat at 7PM EDT/4PM PDT where we will be chatting about “Active Listening & Civic Engagement.”

  • Monday, Oct 7th we will be hosting #ellchat on “Podcasting with English Learners.” Mark your calendars for at 9PM EDT/6PM PDT.

Please help us spread the word on Twitter and share with your PLN! 

FREE WEBINARS (register at the links below)


Let us know @listenwiselearn if you’ll be attending any of these events. We hope to see you in person!

We’ve been hearing from Google Classroom teachers that you want more integrations with Listenwise, and we’ve been listening! Last year we offered Google single sign-on, sharing assignments to Google Classroom, and Google Classroom roster import. We are thrilled to announce our newest integration: sending quiz scores to Google Classroom!

It’s now easier than ever to assign a quiz, as well as share the quiz assignment to Google Classroom AND send scores to Google Classroom. It just takes a few clicks!

Step 1: Find a Story with Quiz and Choose a Class

We have over 300 quizzes and counting on Listenwise! Once you find a story with a quiz that you want to assign, click the “Assign Quiz” button in the upper right-hand corner of the story.

Choose a class and pick a due date — no changes here! If you select a class that was imported from Google Classroom, then you will automatically see the new gradebook integration options.

Step 2: Select Google Classroom Options and Click “Assign”

You have two options: “Share Quiz with Google Classroom” and “Send Scores to Google Classroom.” 

If you want to send quiz scores to Google Classroom, you must share the quiz to Google Classroom. But you can share the quiz to Google Classroom without sending quiz scores. See the video below for more:

Note: If you want to share the quiz with students in Google Classroom without importing the class roster, click the Google Classroom icon on the Quiz Report page. 

Step 3: Listenwise Quiz is in Google Classroom!

If you opt to share the quiz and send scores to Google Classroom, the Listenwise quiz will automatically be added to your Google Classroom Stream, Classwork, and Grades tabs. Quiz scores will be added to your Grades as students submit Listenwise quizzes.

For more details and step-by-step instructions on all integrations, check out the Listenwise + Google Classroom Guide.

As you head into this school year, you may be asking yourself, “What can I do to help my students feel safe, and how do I ensure that my classroom is a place that de-escalates hatred and fear?”

There have been many tragic incidents in the news this summer, and a rise in documented incidents of hate in schools across the last couple of years. More than ever, this raises the importance of teachers creating a safe and nurturing environment for every one of their students. We believe it’s important that all students feel safe in school, valued by teachers and peers, and able to fully be themselves in the classroom.

In a recent #sschat, Facing History and Ourselves hosted a conversation about being an “upstander.” FHO defines an upstander as “a person who speaks or acts in support of an individual or cause, particularly someone who intervenes on behalf of a person being attacked or bullied.” Read the archived chat to see how teachers are promoting upstanding behaviour in their classrooms.

This summer, hate has been in the headlines in our local communities and around the world. For example, recent Listenwise current events include stories about hateful manifestos and videos posted on the internet or about the dangers facing Central American migrants seeking asylum in the U.S. Below, we offer some helpful resources to help educators bring up current events in their classrooms and offer sensitive entry points to confront troubling violence and injustice, including terrorism, genocide, and attacks on human rights. 

In this 30-minute webinar Listenwise hosted with Facing History and Ourselves, we discuss how the power of storytelling can bring social-emotional learning to the classroom and help students understand the experiences of others and empathize with them. 

On September 12, 2019 Facing History is hosting another webinar to share strategies for teaching current events.
You can register here.

Here are some more high-quality resources from Facing History and Ourselves on Addressing Hate, Violence, Injustice. Facing History has also created a great back-to-school toolkit to help teachers create a supportive and inclusive classroom community. These lessons address how to effectively establish classroom norms that support students in learning to value differing perspectives, question assumptions, and actively listen to others. 

Colorin Colorado has bilingual resources to facilitate talking with students about tragic events. Here are their 15 Tips for Talking with Children About Violence. This page is regularly updated with additional links to help teachers talk to students about the issues facing their communities and the world around them. 

“Our classrooms cannot cocoon our students from the real world. We can begin talking through not only the recent violence in our country, but broader instances of systemic oppression related to white supremacy, anti-immigration sentiment, racism, and LGBTQ discrimination.” (source Urgent Need for AntiRacist Education)

Read our previous blog post that includes further resource links to Facing History, Edutopia, NY Times, and other sources to help teachers set the scene and create a safe space for talking about news and current events, even when they are difficult to discuss.