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Many California educators are preparing for a new English learner assessment called the ELPAC, and wondering how it compares with the ELA portion of CAASPP. We looked at the listening strand samples and practice tests for grades 5-12. Despite the fact that both tests are assessing listening comprehension, they go about it in somewhat different ways. The two most significant differences between the assessments are the type of audio that is listened to and the listening procedures.

CAASPP listening passages are short informational texts that are read aloud by one speaker.  The passages are typically related to common grade-level curriculum topics. You can listen to a sample audio passage from CAASPP 5th grade (about 1½  minutes long) about asteroids and space.

In contrast, the ELPAC listening segments are conversations, more similar to spoken English that a student would encounter in the classroom. There are 4 different types of listening segments that range in length and complexity (see chart below). The ELPAC practice tests do not provide the audio files, only transcripts of the conversations.

The “oral presentation” type of question on the ELPAC is the most similar to the CAASPP, as it features a teacher talking about a curriculum topic. All the other ELPAC listening tasks feature 2 different speakers.

The other significant difference in the tests is in how the students listen. In the CAASPP, students can each listen to the streamed audio individually and replay the audio as desired, using an embedded notepad to take notes as they listen. However, ELPAC audio will be played only one time for a group of students being tested. The ELPAC instructions do encourage students to take notes on paper while listening to the longer segments which are similar in length to the CAASPP items.

With these differences between the exams, you might wonder if it is possible to prepare for both without double the effort. It definitely is!

Certainly having students practice listening to audio related to curriculum topics can help students prepare for both the CAASPP and the oral presentation and speaker opinion task types on the ELPAC. Also, audio dialogue that discusses opinions and points of view on a current topic are very useful, especially for ELPAC.

Using a solution like Listenwise, teachers can assess student listening comprehension (try a sample test to see the format of our listening comprehension assessments at this link) with formative quizzes or have students practice note-taking with organizers and short response questions. At the outset, students will benefit from supported access to challenging content, such as being able to read the transcript as they listen or look up unfamiliar words. However, teachers can hide the transcript when they want to more closely model the tests. For teachers with students taking the ELPAC, some practice should also be given with audio stories played once from the front of the classroom, not just students listening on their own.

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We are excited to share favorite features and lesson ideas from a few of our Listenwise Advocates! These awesome educators are master teachers and Listenwise Advocates.  Read about their favorite Listenwise features and how they use Listenwise with their students. Learn more about this program and try out some of these ideas with your students.


Katie Booth

In my class, we listen to a podcast once all the way through and determine the general idea. Then, we use the graphic organizers provided and listen to the audio again, stopping occasionally to take notes. Each student shares what they heard. This gives us an opportunity to compare what information catches students’ attention. We compare those comments to the general idea of the audio (discussed early) to assess whether this information will support us in gaining a better understanding of the main idea.

After listening we look over the comprehension questions and determine what each question is asking, highlighting important details in the question. Then we go back to our notes to determine whether we took notes on that topic. I encourage the students to always provide evidence to support their reasoning. If they believe the answer is B then they must prove it and cite evidence from the recording to support their answer.
Favorite PREMIUM Feature: With Listenwise Premium I have the ability to track my students’ progress. I can get precise data, down to which skill they struggle with the most (i.e. vocabulary, main idea, inference, etc) in order to tailor my instruction to meet the needs of individual students.


Sebastian Byers

We have a 1:1 class, so once I get the classes set up in Listenwise, assigning and using the lessons is very easy and convenient. The lessons easily fit into my curriculum and Listenwise is used at strategic times. I assign stories to students and they listen and complete the questions and assignment. Any assignments are embedded or linked into my Canvas class page. As a group we discuss answers to the assignment and students choose one answer that they are most proud of and prepare to share that with the class. My students appreciate that I make science fun and fresh. I have happily converted many young persons to “podcast people”…their words.  @scienceteachme

Favorite PREMIUM Feature: Creating an assignment for a unit of study. I appreciate the resource library for search-ability, relevance, comprehensiveness, and as a nice addition to my lessons. My students find their assignments to be interesting and their tasks in the assignments are clear and easy to use.


Erik Eve

Over the course of the quarter (10 weeks),  my students choose and listen to 15 current events.  They do this at home and then on the last day of the quarter, we have a whole group discussion.  The students are given a prompt and they answer based on the Listenwise current events, also referencing other people and their opinions.

In the second discussion we have a “move around.” Students sit in the middle of the classroom, I pull up a Listenwise current event, and ask them a question based on the topic. If they agree they go to one corner and if they disagree they go to another corner. Students have to defend why they were there and provide support for their choice.  @mrevelindy

Favorite PREMIUM Feature: The current events allow my honor’s students to come into contact with information that they normally wouldn’t.


Andrew Garnett-Cook

When I’m teaching citizenship, we look at the 14th Amendment and discuss the process of naturalization. Then we discuss “What is one right citizens have that is generally not given to non-citizens?” The most important one is voting. We go to Listenwise to hear this audio:Debate: Should Non-Citizens Be Allowed to Vote in Local Elections?

Students use their own device (chromebook, laptop) to listen to the audio.

After listening to the story, we go over their responses to the questions. Then I have students stand up and place themselves on either end of the classroom, based on the degree to which they agree or disagree that non-citizens should be allowed to vote in the type of election described in the story. This leads to a longer discussion about the benefits of citizenship and why some people who live legally as residents of the United States might take the extra step of seeking citizenship.
Favorite PREMIUM Feature: The ability to create classes and assign stories in class or for home work is my favorite feature because it enables me to save stories to assign in successive years.

Mike Messner

I play Listenwise audio stories to the class and project the transcript on the screen. After the first listen, I instruct them to jot down answers to discussion questions in their devices or in an app while I project the comprehension and discussion questions. Students listen again and then turn to each other and discuss the questions. I call several students to give their responses to the rest of the class. At the end of class, students respond in writing to comprehension questions on a Google Form that I create.  @teachermike72

Favorite PREMIUM Feature: I like the Discussion Questions. They give students a target for their listening and provide a basis for the discussion that will ensue later. 


Rosemary Miketa

I give my students a topic, such as climate change, to help them understand cause and effect relationships. They discuss prompts that I give them, and then listen to the Listenwise audio and answer questions. They use the online dictionary feature if needed for new vocabulary. Then they watch a video, possibly from National Geographic, and reflect on the audio and video. I ask them to create a video reflection of what they learned on their phone, explaining some causes and effects of global warming. Students can then share their video responses in Flipgrid.


Favorite PREMIUM Feature: I like the Closed Captioning and interactive transcript highlights while students are listening.


To learn more about the Teacher Advocate Program and how you can apply, check out our Listenwise Teacher Advocate Program page!

Now that the Listening Olympics have come to a close we want to congratulate our winners! In the Olympic spirit, we have awarded Gold, Silver and Bronze prizes to contest participants based on the top quiz scores and highest student participation!


  • Gold Medal Winner: Brianne Underwood at Woodlake Valley Middle School with the best overall student performance, a student average of 86%! She will win 1 pair of Bose headphones and classroom set of headphones/earbuds.


  • Silver Medal Winner: Katherine Edwards at Lake Oconee Academy – who had the most student quiz submissions of 100 student submissions! Her class wins a classroom set of headphones!


  • Bronze Medal Winner: Awarded to an engaged #listeningolympic user, Theresa Garcia at Washingtonville Middle School! She wins a Listenwise bag and t-shirt!


Thank you all for participating and congrats to our winners!


If you want to learn more about the Listening Olympics read all the contest details here.

(Originally published on March 19, 2017 and updated March 8, 2018)

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.



               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

         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






Teaching kindness can create inclusive school environments and positive behavior that invites friendship. Promoting kindness is also a key in reducing its opposite: bullying. As students become more aware of their emotions, they can better empathize with others and respond with kindness. Teaching social and emotional skills, such as empathy, is increasing in many schools and may change the role of learning in the future.

Stories of Friendship and Empathy

Students can create change and impact other students by being open to understanding each other and creating friendships. Teaching the Novel Wonder is a good place to start when teaching about bullying and empathy. Listen to an interview with the author of Wonder, R.J. Palacio, and hear about how she describes the relationship between kindness and courage, and then use some of the audio and lesson resources for teaching Wonder.


There are many LIstenwise audio stories that can help provide examples of kindness and empathy to students.



The Different Stages of a Bully and the Bullied


Put your students in the shoes of a bully and the bullied. Listen to these stories to help give students new perspectives.


What does a bully sound like? Listen to this Listenwise story about a former bully who discusses his aggressive, fearless behavior which led to time in juvenile detention, and what he thinks about his future.


In another point of view, this Listenwise lesson looks into the psychology of a bully and why we should use empathy when considering the bully and the bullied.


What happens after bullying occurs? This Listenwise audio tells the story of a teen who had an unexpected response to bullying; she used social media to relay her experience in an attempt to get people to fight against bullying, and it worked!


Lastly, this Listenwise audio shares the experience of a 55-year-old man who was aggressively bullied many years earlier. Listen to hear how he survived the verbal and physical abuse and hear his reflection on the impact bullying has had on his life.


Facing History has teaching guides for schools who want a whole grade or school to read the book Wonder, as well as many resources to help teach students about bullying. PBS Newshour also has lessons and activities to help discuss friendship and bullying with students. If you’d like to understand more about the process of bullying and to dive into real examples of scenarios on decisions teenagers have to make every day, take a look at these dilemmas and how to navigate a discussion with your students.

We are very excited to introduce the Listenwise Advocate Program! The program features a select group of educators who are enthusiastic experts in using Listenwise PREMIUM in their classrooms. The Listenwise Advocates will motivate the Listenwise community to further integrate Listenwise audio content into their teaching and improve students’ listening comprehension. We’d like to introduce our first group of Advocates and we will be choosing another group of Advocates in April!

Learn more about this program and apply before April.


Meet the Listenwise Advocates

Listenwise Advocates believe in harnessing the power of podcasts, public radio, and listening resources to enhance student learning. These awesome educators are master teachers and we have had the honor of presenting with them in past conferences, workshops, and webinars. Andrew Garnett-Cook presented with us at NCSS 2016, Mike Messner presented with us at NCSS 2017 this past December, and Mike Godsey presented with us at SXSWedu 2017 in March. If you are headed to CCSS this March, be sure to check out Scott Petri’s talk.

Find most of our advocates in past webinars, and stay tuned for an April webinar series! Meet the Advocates!


Katie Booth

Katie is a middle school teacher in California who teaches across all content areas. She holds a Master’s Degree in STEAM education. She has been teaching for 6 years after making a career change from the business world. 


Sebastian Byers

Sebastian teaches high school science in North Carolina. Interested in teaching students about climate change? Read Bringing Climate Change into the Classroom, Sebastian’s’ blog that was recently published by PBS Education! Follow him on Twitter @scienceteachme


Jim Bentley

Jim is a 5th and 6th grade teacher in Elk Grove, California. Check out Envisioning Lessons with Multimedia Text Sets, Jim’s Listenwise webinar about how building multimedia text sets with Listenwise and other resources can both deepen and broaden student learning. Follow Jim on Twitter @Curiosity_Films


Scott Petri

Scott teaches high school history in California. Scott is active on Twitter, where he regularly posts about the latest developments in and discussions about education! Follow him @Scottmpetri



Erik Eve

Erik teaches 8th grade social studies in Lindenhurst, NY. Follow Erik on Twitter for lots of great history content! @mrevelindy



Andrew Garnett-Cook

Andrew teaches Ancient Mediterranean Civilizations and U.S. History in Brookline, MA. Looking for an interesting resource about history and public radio? We recommend watching Bringing History to Life with Public Radio, the webinar in which Andrew and Listenwise CEO Monica Brady-Myerov explore new ways to teach history within the context of current events.


Mike Messner

Mike is a high school social studies teacher in Los Altos, California who recently started his blog, Moments with Mike. You can follow him on Twitter @teachermike72



Michael Godsey

Mike is an ELA teacher in San Luis Obispo, California, as well as an active writer and creator of ELA resources. Curious about making podcasts with students? Check out Michael’s Listenwise webinar, Creating Podcasts in Class, to learn about how to teach your students to be podcast writers, recorders, and producers. Follow Michael on Twitter @TheMrGodsey

Rosemary Miketa

Rosemary is an ESL professor at Henry Ford College English Language Institute in Michigan. She has taught English abroad in Australia, the UK, and Spain!



To learn more about the Teacher Advocate Program and how you can apply, check out our Listenwise Teacher Advocate Program page!

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

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


Listenwise President’s Day Audio

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


Other Resources for President’s Day

We the People: The Citizen & the Constitution

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


Presidents’ Day: A Life Lesson for Students

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


Lincoln’s Crossroads

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


Branches of Power Game

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


President’s Day Videos

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


The First President

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


Listenwise Audio on U.S. Government and Civics


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

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

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

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

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

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

Get those ears ready for some listening.


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

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




How to participate:

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


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

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

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


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


What you can win:

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

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


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

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


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


Here are some Planet Money stories currently available on Listenwise:


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


Happy Listening!

(Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

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


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


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


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


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


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


Explore other NPR stories and answer these questions.


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


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

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