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Summer is a great time for PD! While the sun is out, let’s dive into one of the hottest trending topics in education, PODCASTING! Here are some quick ideas.

If you have 5 minutes…

1. Watch the Soundtrap for Storytellers Crash Course from our partners at Soundtrap. This video is great for first time podcasters looking for the tools to get started.

If you have 10 minutes…

2. Listen to an episode of the Student Podcast PODCAST to hear examples of student podcasts, with reflections from their teachers on the project, hosted by former public radio reporter and Listenwise CEO, Monica Brady-Myerov. Tip: You can even do this one on the beach!

If you have 20 minutes…

3. Watch our webinar How to Teach and Assess Listening and learn how you can use podcasts to engage students and assess listening progress. 

If you have 30 minutes…

4. Download the Teacher’s Guide to Podcasting in the Classroom, with step-by-step guidelines for podcasting in class.

Teachers_Guide_to_Podcasting

5. Watch our 30 minute webinar Creating Podcasts in Class with K-12 administrator Mike Godsey. This webinar will show you how to create a podcast makerspace in your classroom.

For more in-depth podcasting professional development, we are offering a new PD opportunity in partnership with Soundtrap, delivered by experts in podcasting and public radio with flexible online sessions and personalized coaching for a teacher cohort. If you want to learn more or are interested, fill out this form.

Listening and Podcast Creation Tools for the Classroom

Learn how to use technology to better support your students as they build the skills they need for future success. Modern learners need to be able to think critically, collaborate effectively, communicate clearly, solve complex problems, and continue to learn independently throughout their lives. What better way to build all these skills, than through podcasting?

Podcasting can hit your learning objectives, increase student engagement, and easily be integrated into your instruction.

As we head towards ISTE this weekend we wanted to share an exclusive announcement that we are offering exciting a new Professional Development offering in partnership with Soundtrap.


Learn how to create thought-provoking podcasts with Soundtrap’s easy-to-use audio and podcast creation platform and our step-by-step professional development, delivered by experts in podcasting and public radio! With our guidance, teachers will design and implement their own student podcasting projects. Teachers will get 1:1 coaching from podcast experts, project lesson templates, instructional materials and assessment rubrics. Professional Development will also include three months of free access to Soundtrap and Listenwise.

If you are at ISTE stop by our booth in the Startup Pavilion or find us at one of our presentations: Active Listening and Civic Engagement: Teaching With Podcasts, or Empowering Student Voice Through Podcasting to chat in person!

P.S. Looking for more bite-sized PD options over the summer? Check out the Student Podcast PODCAST! You’ll hear directly from teachers who have done podcasts with their students, with examples of their students’ work.

As the school year winds down, we are looking ahead to our summer plans. Are you as well? If you have the bandwidth to think about it, now is a great time to reflect on what went well this year while it’s still fresh in your mind. The end of the year is a great time for reflection whether you are a teacher, student, staff, or administrator.

ISTE 2019 presentation

Here is a great document that educator Catlin Tucker created, “Things to Revamp for Next Year,” to help educators organize and reflect on the year and brainstorm new strategies, routines, and lesson and project ideas to build into their classroom practice next year.

Speaking of project ideas, if you haven’t already, you should consider podcasting with your students next school year!

We launched the Student Podcast PODCAST as a way to highlight student voices and provide easy tips and tricks to help educators start podcasting with their students or build on podcasting projects they have already tried in their classrooms. This podcast offers an easy summer listen, with each episode lasting around 10 minutes.

You can start by listening to one of our favorite episodes, highlighting how an ELA teacher incorporated the “Serial” podcast into his curriculum.

If you are headed to the ISTE conference, we have two speaking sessions on podcasting this year, and you can also catch us in the Startup Pavilion. Let’s chat podcasting, and *hint hint* we might be offering some project-based PD with an exciting partner! Stay tuned!

We hope to see you in Philly! If you can’t attend, we’ll be sure to share our session content on our social channels. Feel free to reach out to info@listenwise.com for these session slides after June if you can’t find them on our other channels. We are happy to share.

Have a great summer, and we hope you try podcasting as summer PD!

P.S  Here’s a quick podcast to listen to from educators, called Virtual Leadership Academy, “Summer is Coming! 3 Ways to Get the Most Out Of Summer As An Eduleader.”

One thing we consistently hear from teachers who use Listenwise is how much they like our current events. These stories, published every weekday during the school year, are focused on topics currently in the news. They cover recent events, such as the Fire at Notre Dame Cathedral, seasonal topics such as the start of Ramadan, and updates to ongoing issues like Unrest in Venezuela. Listening to current event stories helps students connect to the world around them. They expose students to topics they might not otherwise encounter and can be used in different classroom settings and subject areas. For strategy ideas, check out our post on 5 Ways to Integrate Current Events into Instruction.

We also have weekly debate stories which are released each Friday, where students can dig into questions like, “Is encouraging people to speak only English unAmerican?” These topics can also be used as prompts for teaching written argument.

We love hearing from teachers about how they use current events in their classrooms. Read how educators are using Listenwise current events to engage their students in developing their listening comprehension and other literacy skills, while building their knowledge about important real world issues and events.

This website exposes students to current events and is great for bringing discussion into the classroom. I use this website for my advisory class. I also have them write a reflection to help improve their writing skills.

– High School Math Teacher in California

My students use it weekly and I find that it helps with their reading and writing skills overall. I use the current events because most of my students are not aware of the world and ongoing news and information.

– Middle School ELA and Social Studies Teacher in Massachusetts

I think it’s a great way for students to access filtered and appropriate current events. I love being able to search for articles that tie into the curriculum.

– Elementary School ELA and Social Studies Teacher in California

I believe every year students are getting progressively worse at listening comprehension. Also, I truly love all of the NPR/KCRW current events listening passages. Listenwise increases their scores in listening as well as informs them on so much that is going on in the world.

– Elementary School ELA and Social Studies, and Reading Teacher in California

We have found Listenwise to be one of the most accessible and engaging platforms offered to our students. Our teachers, who use numerous current event platforms, have commented on the more nuanced and critical view of the issues available for exploration in Listenwise.

– Middle School ELA and ESL Teacher in Georgia

I like the current events, and we write journals on a daily basis, so having updated news and topics is important and at the click of a button.

– High School Business/Career Planning Instructor in California

The program is an excellent way to practice listening skills as well as teach students to understand current events. Also, the lesson plans, scaffolding tools, and customizing features are user friendly and very accessible to my ELD students.

– Middle School ELA and ESL Teacher in California

Listenwise is perfect for helping our students with their close listening skills. I love the availability of current events and easily accessible quizzes. There is a large variety of content and many high-interest topics, as well as topics that fit directly with my curriculum.

– Middle SChool ELA and Social Studies Teacher in Wisconsin


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

We interviewed two of our Listenwise Advocates about how they use CommonLit with Listenwise to meet their teaching goals. Many teachers have found that the short, interactive texts on the CommonLit platform pair especially well with Listenwise audio stories, and the instructional supports on both platforms are pedagogically consistent and compatible.  

 

Carolyn Brown is a Middle School English Language Arts Teacher at Vista Heritage Global Academy, a charter school in Santa Ana, California. She says,

Listenwise and CommonLit have very similar visual styles, so students perceive them as being similar. They both give short texts that students need to analyze. The texts are already curated and have pre-written high-quality questions. Many of the topics even overlap well.”

As a teacher at a Global Academy, Carolyn’s teaching goals are aligned with the four Domains of Global Competency defined by the International Studies Schools Network: Investigate the World, Recognize Perspectives, Communicate Ideas, and Take Action. She finds that using Listenwise together with CommonLit is an especially good way to help students ‘Recognize Perspectives.’

For example, when teaching the attack on Pearl Harbor and the subsequent imprisonment of Japanese-Americans, Carolyn explained,

I wanted students to understand the point of view of Japanese-Americans in WWII internment camps, but also understand the fear that drove the US government to deny them their rights.”

She started by showing her students footage from the attack on Pearl Harbor, and had them listen to a Listenwise story from the perspective of a veteran who was at Pearl Harbor. They also read some of the contemporary government reports and opinion pieces about Japanese-American loyalty. Then, she asked her students to think of solutions.

“Someone invariably suggests moving Japanese-Americans away from other Americans. That’s when we dive into Japanese-American internment camps.”

To explore the perspective of Japanese-Americans who were imprisoned for the duration of WWII, Carolyn’s students listened to The Creative Art of Coping in Japanese Internment, a story about imprisoned Japanese-Americans who used art to cope with their circumstances. They then turned to CommonLit to read George Takei’s TED Talk about his experiences living in a Japanese internment camp as a child. His talk is titled “Why I Love a Country That Once Betrayed Me”.

For both the Listenwise and CommonLit lessons, the class worked through the discussion questions associated with each lesson.

“We talk and write about how otherwise reasonable people can be driven by fear to do unreasonable things, and how those who are treated unfairly can be resilient.”

Carolyn says this inevitably prompts a discussion about about people who are treated unfairly in America today.

“The very best moment in the mini-unit is always when that first student slaps his or her forehead and exclaims, ‘But it’s like how people are afraid of Muslims and try to keep them out!’  A lively discussion then ensues in which students discuss their own fears, politicians’ fears, and the nature of American-ness. I just stand back and watch the whole process flow organically.”

 

In Dr. Scott Petri’s high school history class, Scott uses Listenwise and CommonLit to build the knowledge base they need to engage in authentic project based learning (PBL). Scott teaches at John F. Kennedy High School in Granada Hills, California, a medical magnet academy for gifted and high achieving students.

Scott’s class is set up to allow students flexibility in the types of resources they use to meet California’s content standards for history. Scott uses a playlist approach to helping his students improve their understanding of the California state history content standards. He explains that,

“Listenwise and CommonLit offer supplemental, shorter activities that students can do in class or for homework assignments while building the knowledge base they need” to complete their projects.

Because both Listenwise and CommonLit have auto-scored assessments associated with each lesson, Scott uses both resources to assess his students’ knowledge and identify gaps. He says,

“Listenwise and CommonLit stories become convenient formative assessments that let me know where I need to fill in learning deficits and help me differentiate instruction.”

Currently, Scott’s students are reading Hellhound on His Trail, a non-fiction thriller by Hampton Sides about the FBI manhunt for MLK’s killer.

“In order to address some knowledge gaps, I have assigned students several CommonLit close reads from their Civil Rights Movement text set, as well as Listenwise stories on James Baldwin and Comparing Black Lives Matter to the Civil Rights Movement. These activities expand the scope of my class and show students that the skills they practice in one class help them understand the content in another.”

Scott believes that breaking down the silos between content areas helps students make interdisciplinary connections, and that teachers can facilitate this process by coordinating with their colleagues.

“In order to support this history unit, my ELA colleagues had our shared students analyze the rhetoric in MLK’s Birmingham Jail letter and deconstruct the historical references in Jesse Williams BET Humanitarian speech. The result was a deeper learning experience that spiraled multiple content standards and tapped into culturally relevant pedagogy to increase student understanding of the Civil Rights Movement.”

Scott finds Listenwise and CommonLit to be great complementary resources to facilitate this type of interdisciplinary learning.

“I believe Listenwise and CommonLit have helped me better support my students in reading and understanding college-level historical non-fiction.”

 

Today, we highlight an innovative podcasting lesson from Erik Eve’s 8th grade social studies class in Lindenhurst, NY, featuring their explorations of historic Washington D.C sites and reflections on their field trip experience.

For this project, Erik used podcasting as a medium to inspire student engagement and deepen learning, with the only requirement being that his students record audio about one of the D.C sites they visited. This blog post showcases an example of how students, equipped with a smartphone free voice recorder app, can deepen and document their learning experiences using the power of audio.

 

Setting up the Podcast Lesson

 

Erik’s field trip podcasting instructions were open-ended and allowed for a lot of student choice regarding who they worked with and what site they wanted to feature in their podcast. Students were given guiding questions to suggest a structure for the recording of factual information about the historic sites they were visiting, and for s their impressions of the experience. Students could reflect individually and/or interview other students about their reactions.

Listen to Erik Eve reflect on how his students responded to the assignment with excitement about collaborating and about exercising their creativity.  

 

Here are some sample guiding questions for the audio reflections & interviews:

Informational framing questions:

What is the historic site?  

When and why was it built?

What can visitors to the site expect to experience and/or learn?

Interview question ideas:

What is your impression of the site?

What’s one interesting thing you learned from your visit?

What would you recommend that other visitors make sure to notice?

 

D.C. Field Trip Audio Podcasts

 

Listen to hear some samples of students’ podcasts about the different Washington DC sites they visited, including Arlington Cemetery, Mt. Vernon, the Lincoln Memorial, Ford’s Theater, the U.S. Capitol, and the Vietnam Memorial:

Arlington Cemetery & Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

 

George Washington’s House in Mt Vernon

 

Ford’s Theater

 

The Peterson House – Where Abraham Lincoln Passed Away

 

The U.S. Capitol Building

 

Student Reflections & Podcasting Tips

 

Not only did the class podcast during the trip, but Erik went a step further and had his students grade themselves afterwards and reflect on the podcasting project and process and the trip as a whole. Listen to some of these reflections below.

Brooke reflects on her learning experience and offers some future tips, one of which is to make the podcast while you are at the site:

 

Vanessa says she loved podcasting, and it helped her deepen her learning while on the field trip:

 

Lauren loved the collaborative aspect of podcasting and shared how it helped her to be  more attentive on the field trip:

 

Jessica enjoyed listening to the class podcasts after the field trip to hear the different perspectives of her classmates on the same trip experience:

 

Thank you to Erik and his students for sharing with us!

 

 

Looking for more podcasting ideas? Download our Teacher’s Guide to Podcasting. To listen to another one of Erik’s podcasting lessons (his first ever classroom podcasting project) listen to episode 2 of the newly released Student Podcast PODCAST.

Podcasting Popularity is Increasing


When I started Listenwise 6 years ago, only a handful of teachers were having  their students show what they know with podcasts. Today, it’s much more common for teachers to tell me that they have tried a podcasting project or would like to try it with their students.

This increased amount of student podcasting corresponds with a huge increase in people listening to podcasts. More than half the people in the United States have listened to one, and nearly one out of three people listen to at least one podcast every month.

NPR’s Student Podcast contest garnered 6,000 entries earlier this year. 6,000! That shows an incredible amount of creativity, self-learning, and gumption around a medium that’s still very new to teaching.

And it means there are thousands of you out there making podcasts with your students but with almost no way to share what they’ve produced, what you’ve learned and what you’d like to share with other teachers eager to try this medium.

Now there is!

 

The Student Podcast PODCAST

 

We are excited to announce the Student Podcast PODCAST.

Our new podcast highlights student podcasts created as part of classroom work. The subject matter is diverse, with  podcasts about hurricane recovery, math, self-discovery, immigration, and more. There’s no subject that wouldn’t make a good podcast!

 

I am taking my 20 years of experience as a public radio reporter and producer and listening to these students podcasts, talking with the teachers who facilitated and asking them to share how they did it.  And I’m adding my commentary on what are the best ways to make an NPR-style podcast, what’s the best voice recording and editing software to use and how to structure a podcast project. All so that you can learn how to make podcasts in your class.

The Student Podcast PODCAST will demystify the podcasting process, giving you actionable tips and tricks. And we hope it will inspire you to try it with your students.

We are keeping each episode short, under 10 minutes, so that you can quickly acquire ways to get a podcasting lesson started in your class and explore new lesson ideas.

 

Whether you have never tried podcasting or are a podcasting pro with your class, you can find interesting content and new podcasting ideas in the show! Subscribe, listen and review the show on iTunes or Spotify

 

Submit Your Student Podcasting Lessons

 

If you are already podcasting with you students, you might be interested in submitting a student podcast for inclusion in a future episode. Whether it’s a full class project, or individual student work, we want to hear it! Complete this short submission form so we can learn more about your student podcast project.

 

 

Other Podcasting Resources

 

If you are looking for more podcasting project ideas and tools to get started, you can download our teachers guide to podcasting in the classroom.

We are so excited to get started sharing all the great podcasting students are doing across the country!

The arrival of May signals the end of the school year and often prompts thinking about summer vacation. While there is much to celebrate about summer break, one concern is that the extended period without school can hurt some students by causing learning setbacks. Teachers can help to combat this potential learning loss by giving their students fun summer learning activities that will not interfere with other vacation plans.

Check out our summer listening list below for 2019 and give your students something cool to listen to while practicing their literacy skills and building background knowledge. We decided to pull together some of our most popular stories in a few fun categories. Check them out and see which of them will make it onto your summer listening list. You may have other favorite stories that you would like to add to your list based on what you know about your students or your own interests.

We have also included some articles and resources on summer learning loss at the end of this post. Check those out for some more information about what you can do to help students keep learning over the summer. Explore these great topics:

 

Interesting News

 

Topics for Discussion

 

Thought-Provoking Stories

 

Stories to Explore for Back-to-School

 

Science

 

History

 

ELA

 

Resources for Fighting Summer Learning Loss

 

These articles are full of information about summer learning loss and strategies for preventing it, which can be shared with parents. It is worth noting that, “Income-based gaps in reading grow larger over the summer, with lower-income students showing drops and middle class students actually showing gains in test scores between spring and fall. This finding led to wide acceptance of the conclusion that summer time contributes directly to academic inequality” (Kuhfeld, 2018). Thus, providing engaging summer learning resources to support ongoing literacy skill development among low-income students can be especially helpful.

 

If you have favorite stories you don’t see here, comment below or share with us on Twitter @listenwiselearn. Also if you have any audio stories or topics that you think are perfect for the classroom, please share them with us! We are always looking to diversify the topics on our platform.

One of the more difficult moments that educators often have to deal with is what to say to students after tragedy, especially as they may be coping with feelings/emotions as well. In this blog post, we will share a few ways that educators can provide support to students and equip them with good self-care practices.

 

On April 21st 2019, Easter Sunday, three churches and three luxury hotels in Sri Lanka were bombed, leaving at least 500 people injured and over 200 dead. The perpetrators are believed to have committed these atrocities as acts of terrorism. While the perpetrators’ motivations are still being investigated, this attack fits into a larger pattern of recent attacks on places of worship. Recent terrorist attacks on worshippers at mosques in New Zealand and at a synagogue in Pittsburgh also fit the pattern.

In the days after this horrible tragedy, people have come together to show support for the people of Sri Lanka and the victims of these attacks. Unfortunately, however, more attacks quickly followed. In the U.S., there was a deadly shooting at a synagogue and an active shooter situation on a university campus that left at least two people dead. For students and educators, this can be a very heavy emotional load. Here are some ideas about how we can support each other and our students and create safe physical and emotional spaces.

A great place to begin is by letting students know how important it is that they feel comfortable in the classroom. In a March 15th 2019 article, our friends at Facing History and Ourselves offered great discussion resources to help students start working through their emotions. The piece offers helpful guidance:  

“As a teacher, let your classroom be a place where students can stop and think, be present with their minds and their hearts, and ask questions—even those that may not have answers—within a supportive community of learners.”

 

One way to encourage your students to be honest with themselves and each other is to be honest with them. Try to write or think about the prompt yourself so that you can share your feelings with your students. Provide time for quiet reflection and then provide your students with a simple writing prompt to help them interrogate and identify their own feelings. You might find a prompt like this one useful:

Dealing with pain and tragedy is hard. It can be useful to write down the questions that arise for you. (Do not worry about answering them.) Think about how the ways that hearing about these events makes you feel, and write about those feelings.

Having students share these with a peer is a good way to help them make sense of the ways that they feel and the questions that they have.

Another way to help students is to make sure that they know that, regardless of the tragedy, humanity will always persevere. Show them the efforts of people around the world as the healing process begins. Check out a few of these Listenwise stories to offer your students stories of healing and growth after tragedy and sadness.

Dealing with the effects of tragedy in a classroom can be challenging for everyone. Misinformation can amplify the effects of tragedy. Students may come into the classroom with information from a variety of sources, some of which may be inaccurate. You can use a Fact-Question-Response chart  (which you can find with some of our lessons) to help your students identify facts, questions they have, and responses to those questions as they discover them.

Listenwise sends our best wishes to all who have been affected by recent acts of violence directly or indirectly. We hope for a world where violent acts like these are the extreme anomaly.   In the meantime, we hope that we can aid teachers in helping students understand these events, their own responses to them, and how their communities can support them.

Here are more resources that you may find helpful as you navigate tragic news events in the classroom:

 

The release of the Mueller report has clarified the threat to American democracy posed by foreign interference in the U.S. election process, including manipulation of the public through social media. As we look ahead to the next election cycle, the urgency of teaching media literacy continues to grow. In honor of National Media Literacy Week last November, we launched a Media Literacy Contest. Because we had such great engagement with the contest, we decided to make the scavenger hunt available as a regular classroom activity for those who did not have a chance to participate. (No prizes this time–sorry.) Now teachers can use this quiz activity any time to teach critical listening skills through engaging stories about the importance of media literacy with a fun web-sleuthing spin.

Remember, In order to use the media literacy quiz activity, make sure you have a Listenwise Premium account or are signed up for our free 30-day trial  so you can assign and submit student quizzes.

This scavenger hunt game invites you to apply your media literacy skills to identify facts and fakes.

To participate: Simply assign the quiz on the current event to your students and let them search and explore Listenwise stories to hunt down the answers.

As students take the quiz attached to the current event, they will be given clues to find Listenwise stories related to the theme of media literacy. The quiz will guide students through everything, so they can participate individually, in small groups, or as a whole class.

Once students have found the right stories, they should listen to them carefully and hunt down the answers to the related questions. (Scavenger hunt stories will have a special icon so that they know they found the right one.) We recommend working with two tabs or windows open at once–one for the quiz, and one for the stories.

We hope your students enjoy exploring Listenwise in a different way while learning about media literacy!

 

 

Please leave us comments on how things went!