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One of the biggest enemies of meaningful learning is boredom. As a team continually striving to grow and learn ourselves, we are very conscious that learning happens best when we are interested and engaged. With this in mind, we are excited to bring you some new lessons and quizzes for the beginning of the year that will hopefully help keep your students engaged in the classroom! Try these new stories for back-to-school hooks and let us know what your students think.


Still A Spy Vs. Spy World
This startling and engrossing story comes at just the right time politically. This story features the 2010 arrest and indictment of 10 Russian nationals who were masquerading as regular Americans. These agents, part of what the United States Department of Justice calls the ‘Illegals Program,’ allegedly endeavored to infiltrate many different areas of life and industry in the U.S. One was even a college professor! The NPR reporter interviews the former head of the British Intelligence agency MI6, whose expertise and knowledge shine through to make this intriguing story especially engaging!



Young Adult Dystopia
Of all of the genres that students enjoy , one seems to have become overwhelmingly popular. Dystopian novels and short stories have become increasingly commonplace in the young adult sections of libraries and bookstores everywhere. This story delves into some of the novels that are captivating teens and also tries to get at why this kind of literature has become so popular. Listen to this story to hear teens talk about how they feel about this kind of literature and what they believe they gain from it.




Post Traumatic Growth
As hurricane season peaks, it’s worth noting that the most damaging effects of a natural disaster can come after the actual event. This story addresses the mental health wounds that natural forces like hurricanes and tsunamis can cause in those populations that experience the calamities. Listen to an interview with a researcher who studied the mental health effects and outcomes experienced by young women in New Orleans after the devastating Hurricane Katrina. She explains how a majority of subjects in this study actually gained strength through surviving the catastrophe. This post-traumatic-growth, as it’s called, is exciting for researchers and can offer survivors hope in the aftermath of disaster.

We are always looking for engaging stories like these, so if you have any suggestions, please feel free to send them to Support@Listenwise.com! You might just find your story suggestion on Listenwise. We welcome any feedback, and we look forward to hearing from you.

Here are a few more new Listenwise stories that your students will hopefully find enjoyable and educational. Watch out for more and more lessons that will be published this fall, as we are seriously committed to providing a diverse collection where there is something for everyone.

This blog post was updated from August 2017.

It’s back to school time and you’re probably as excited as we are to get started with the new year.  We’ve added 50+ new lessons this year and now have 250 quizzes with more on the way!

To help you get your classroom ready and plan for your students to use Listenwise, we’ve put together a checklist to make things easier!


First, you might be interested in signing up for one of our upcoming Fall webinars.


It’s time to prepare your Listenwise Premium account for a new batch of students. It’s easy to delete classes. Watch this video on how to delete your classes from last year.

Next, you can create new classes. We’ve taken our Listenwise– Google integration to the next level. Now you can import your classes into Listenwise from Google Classroom with a click of a button. It’s very easy – just choose the classes to import and we’ll automatically create them in Listenwise and import your student rosters.

  • Otherwise, if you don’t want to pull from Google Classroom, in the Classes tab, you will see the Add New Class button on the right. This will generate a new Class Code for you to share with your students. (Your students will use the code to sign up at www.listenwise.com/students.)
  • Download our Student Quick Guide PDF to help students sign up with new class codes. Or, if they want a video walk-through tour, send them here.


Think about your instructional goals for the year, and choose a few new ways to use Listenwise this year that align with your instruction goals. Check out some possibilities in this Listenwise Infographic: Ways to Use Listenwise!


Here is a preview of a few stories that might be especially engaging to your students. Get started planning learning activities to start the year off strong!

  • 13 Reasons Why Not –This story turns the title and plot of the popular Netflix show on its head and talks about a Detroit high school’s efforts to highlight the many reasons there are to live.
  • Legacy of LBJ and Civil Rights–A former president whose legacy is often marred by his role in the Vietnam War, Lyndon Baines Johnson also made important contributions to public policy . This story moves away from the Vietnam narrative and focuses more on the Civil Rights Act, a piece of legislation that changed the U.S. forever.
  • How an Entrepreneur Created the Big Box Store–This story tells the tale of how stores like Sam’s Club and Costco came to be. Check this one out with your students to see how these huge stores became the shopper favorites that they are.


Review our blogs about:


Still want some more support? Check out the new Teacher Resources section of our website!


As always, we love hearing from you, and want to set you up for success, so if you hear a story on NPR that you like and want to see on Listenwise for use in your classroom, please let us know by emailing us.

We hope this helps you get off to a great school year!

We are excited to share that we are collaborating with Facing History and Ourselves, a free resource that empowers teachers to think critically about history, for our Fall webinar series. See below for our upcoming webinars – free to register, and we’ll be recording these in case you can’t make the live webinar date.

Reserve your spot for one webinar or all three, for free!


September 25th, 3:30 PST/6:30 EST —
How to Talk About Bullying in Your Classroom

In this webinar you’ll learn how to build empathy in your classroom to better create a bullying-free environment. You’ll also learn how to talk about what bullying is and how it impacts others, how to support someone who is being bullied or create a positive response to bullying. Tune in to this webinar for a toolkit to prevent and confront bullying in your classroom


October 23rd 12:00 PST/3 pm EST —
Using Current Events with a SEL Lense

How do you engage students in current events? One ways it to look at the news with a social and emotional lense. Drawing from Facing History and Ourselves’ teaching resources and Listenwise’s audio collection you’ll learn how to use audio content, pedagogy, and teaching strategies to integrate social and emotional learning into your teaching of the news. This session will showcase lessons that prepare students to be thoughtful, engaged, connected, and compassionate citizens.


November 28th 4:30 PST/7:30 EST —
Pairing Listenwise and Facing History and Ourselves Resources

If you’re looking for a new way to bring history and current events to life with the lense of building critical thinking about the world, this webinar is for you! Facing History, a free resource that empowers teachers to think critically about history and the choices we make, has resources and strategies that help teachers engage students in civics, social studies, humanities and ELA. Listenwise has a broad collection of compelling public radio stories that connect to the same curriculum point. So how can we best use these two resources together? In this webinar you’ll learn how to use these two free websites in conjunction to prepare your next lessons.

We are excited to announce that we are releasing new episodes of Talk Sup this Fall. We released Talk Sup initially in May 2018- you can read about the release on our blog here.


The goal of Talk Sup is elevate Superintendents’ voices, philosophies, and goals to highlight the great work that educators are doing in their communities.  


Listen to this series promo:

What inspired the podcast?

We are focused on building student listening skills with great storytelling, but we hadn’t tapped into our ability to help others tell their own stories. So much of what we do is connecting people to the power of listening to stories. We wanted to create more, bring more stories to people, and what better way then connecting communities with their superintendents? As we talked with educators, we realized that they wanted to know more about their leaders, and their superintendents wanted to share their stories. We realized we could be the connector for superintendents and their communities through the power of audio storytelling.


Stay tuned for upcoming episodes:

  • Superintendent Terrence Davis, Beaumont Unified School District
  • Superintendent Jeff Harding, Mountain View Los Altos Union High School District
  • Superintendent Judy G. White, Riverside County Superintendent of Schools
  • Superintendent Martinrex Kedziora, Moreno Valley Unified School District
  • Superintendent Jerry Almendarez, Colton Joint Unified District


If you have a superintendent that you would like to highlight, please connect with us at info@listenwise.com. Provide contact information and we’ll be sure to reach out. We look forward to sharing your stories.


Happy Listening!

Great news for all those teachers out there using Google Classroom! We’ve taken our Listenwise integration to the next level. Now you can import your classes into Listenwise from Google Classroom with a click of a button. It’s very easy – just choose the classes to import and we’ll create them and import your student rosters all at once.  

It saves time for everyone and avoids sign up mistakes by students.  Win, win! No class codes needed this way!

Step 1: Click Import Classes from Google Classroom

On the “Classes” tab you will now find a blue button that says “Import Google Classroom”.

Step 2: Select Classes to Import

Just check off the classes that you want to import into Listenwise. We’ll create the classes and import the rosters automatically. Here’s a quick video walkthru of how you can easily create and import classes.

Step 3: Students “Login with Google”

Student accounts have already been created using the Gmail addresses in your classroom roster. Have students login to their new Listenwise accounts using their Google credentials. They just click the “Login with Google” button on their login page: https://listenwise.com/students.

And that’s it! You’ve saved lots of class time by avoiding student sign ups and no new passwords for students to remember. If your Classroom roster changes, you can just go to that class roster in Listenwise and update your roster with 1-click.


Need more help using Listenwise? Visit our teacher support center for videos, FAQs, classroom instruction tips, etc.


Here’s to saving time this Fall and getting more listening in!

Today’s guest blog is written by teacher advocate Erik Eve, an 8th grade Social Studies Teacher in Lindenhurst, NY. He teaches honors classes using PBL, blended learning, and Google Classroom. Find him on twitter @mrevelindy.

In today’s classrooms it seems that students are always on devices and their social interaction is very limited, so I wanted to make my classroom a place where the computers are a tool and communication is at the forefront of their learning.

My classroom is an online, paperless, Google Based Classroom.  I use Google and its applications like Docs, Sheets, Drawing, Sites, Slides and Forms.  I also use other programs and apps to supplement my class as needed (Listenwise and Quickrubric are two of my favorites!)

My class is also a Project Based Learning, student-centered learning environment where students sit at stations of two or four and some of them on bouncy ball chairs.

In order to focus on building my students communication skills here are some activities I do in my classroom…

One activity I like to do in the beginning of the year is assign each student to research and share a “Hi-STORY”.  The student is asked to memorize any “story” from American history.  They can be funny, serious, informative or just a story that they like.  The students are empowered to self-direct their own learning to choose their topic and then they present the story in front of the class on their scheduled day to share out.  This activity helps them stand up in front of a group, gain confidence and learn a story from history.  By the end of this activity, they will have heard sixty stories from all over the world and time periods.

In the beginning of the year I also like to give students group projects so they have to collaborate to work with partners, triples and quads to finish different assignments. Communication is the key to success. By setting up these workgroups, my students are required to speak to each other and communicate and collaborate. Individuals are put into situations where they must plan out what they are doing, and build interpersonal skills such as sending emails and texting to get their ideas across.

As the year goes on, we build onto more collaborative processes. One project I like to give is a court case. For the court case I assign roles to each student. Some of them are lawyers, witnesses etc.  I also have a judge, ADA and assistant prosecuting attorney. Students have four days to research and then we put on a trial in class. Good communication is the key to success in this activity.  If the students cannot convey their ideas or points, then the case could be won or lost. The students are so busy learning about their roles and the procedures of the court that learning American History isn’t even on their mind.  At the end of the trial, the history is embedded in their memory through this engaging activity.

The other project is to have my students create their own news cast. During the news broadcast, students are divided up into teams of five, six or seven. Their task is to put on a 40-minute news broadcast about a particular time during the 1920s or 1930s. They all have roles such as the anchor person, reporters, guest stars etc. They have three weeks to put this together and a week of the news. Communication is absolutely essential.

A lot of educators ask me, “don’t you have any problems with the kids speaking and communicating with each other because some kids just don’t get along?” and the famous $1,000,000 question, “when the kids work in groups, isn’t there often one or two kids that does most of the work while the rest just fool around?”.

Well to answer those questions. Yes, kids don’t always get along, but I make sure that I solve any drama immediately something arises and work through the drama with them. From my experience as a teacher I have concluded that most times kids do want to work together and want to do well. However, every now and then a kid just has a bad day or may even struggle with a bad reputation.

I find that if we all speak together, it helps. The kids have to use gentle comments and suggestions to help each other along. I also use “Work logs” on most of the assignments.  A work log is where you log what work you have done in a particular day on an assignment. The kid who has really struggled to work on the assignment will have nothing there.  If I see a kid that hasn’t logged little or anything, I grade the project accordingly. The kids figure out really quickly that they have to put in the effort. I ensure that the projects are embedded throughout instruction and directly tie their tests to the projects so if they don’t do anything they won’t do well on the test either.

I believe that communication is the key to being successful in most things in the world and the classroom is not an exception. The most successful people that I have met are great communicators.

I hope that these suggestions give you some insight and advice in how you as a teacher can better facilitate learning experiences to help improve your student’s communication and collaboration skills. If you have other activities or lesson plans you like to do that supports student collaboration, please share in comments.

Today’s guest post is written by one of our teacher advocates, Sebastian Byers, about his experience at ISTE. Sebastian is a science teacher at Union County Virtual in North Carolina. He is a North Carolina PBS Digital Innovator 2017 and Digital Innovator All-Star 2018-2020, a panelist for PBS Climate Conversations webinar series, featured in this PBS blog, Master Teacher Trainer for Public Media North Carolina, Digital Ambassador for NC Department of Public Instruction, and Kappa Delta Pi educational honors society member. He is also a Fellow for the North Carolina Science Leadership Association.


I had a wonderful time at the 2018 International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) Conference & Expo in Chicago. I had flown into Chicago before on the way to a trip out west but had never spent any significant time in Chi-town before. Chicago reminds me of most Great Lake cities but on a much grander scale. Even during the summer, it was not hard to envision the howling wind coming off the Great Lakes that were such an impressionable part of my childhood.


ISTE can be a bit overwhelming so I zeroed in on small manageable experiences that I believed I could use in my classroom. Don’t get me wrong there are amazing things that defy description at this conference, but for a humble science teacher from the suburbs of Charlotte, North Carolina I felt a bit like Fievel in the big city. So, I was more than happy to answer the call from Listenwise when they reached out to me to help with the booth at ISTE.


Last year my conversation with the representatives from Listenwise on the floor was one of the highlights of my conference as I came away with the impression, nice folks, great product that I can use right away in my classroom. Fast forward one year, I found myself working the Listenwise booth as part of the inaugural Listenwise Advocate program. I got to meet a good number of people, teachers, technology coordinators, and product developers who were all very impressed with the Listenwise product.


One of the most salient points from most conversations was that educators are looking for real-world examples for their content. As KQED examines in Mindshift Applying the Power of Stories to Excite Students About Science about a couple who have developed several unique science camps in Chicago, “students remember experiences, they retain what they learn through experience much better than what they retain through lecture and note taking”. Whether math, science, social studies, or ELL teachers are looking for good stories that their students can relate to. Several features of the Listenwise product satisfies a growing demand for educational resources. As a high school science teacher, I work tirelessly to take rote science knowledge and wrap it into a good story, based in the real world and that leads to a unique learning experience.


Students in our classrooms are wired into their world more than ever before. Through social media, students can explore a vast array of information right at their fingertips. The challenge as a teacher is to convince these students that their devices are tools that can do more than view videos from their favorite blogger. Another unique predicament we face in the social-media age classroom is persistence of word of mouth exchanges of information. Many of our students are exposed daily to hearsay, misbeliefs or strongly worded opinions that they take as fact.


As a science teacher, I work diligently to show my students examples of bad science practices, bunk studies, and poorly drawn conclusions. To grow my student’s science skills, I look for sources of information that are interesting to the student, grounded in reliable sources, and promote the positive use of technology. After talking with other teachers on the floor at ISTE I know I am not alone in these needs.

Listenwise provides a platform that hits all these buttons. The stories curated into Listenwise lessons are from trusted sources like NPR, the titles are catchy and interesting to the students. A further plus is that Listenwise allows me to use student devices for a positive purpose in the classroom. I know a lot of teachers who have a ‘no cell phone’ policy, including one teacher who puts phones into a safe at the beginning of class. Instead of separating students from their devices, why not let them use the device to gather a broader perspective on the world around them? Why not ask them to create content and stories using listening skills?


Listenwise has been well received by all my students, even the hard to reach students that are a feature of every classroom. After listening to the story, my students often wish to share with me and classmates their experiences, opinions, and questions about the subject of the Listenwise story. I use this enthusiasm to challenge my students to become storytellers, interviewers, and commentators themselves. Many of the persons I spoke with on the floor at ISTE loved to tell me and the other volunteers how much they love public radio. I do too and the brilliance of Listenwise is that allows me as a classroom teacher to share this joy with my students in a well-designed and supportive product.


The power of listening is transformative, and I am happy to help my students become science investigators, examiners of social policies, and questioners of their place in school, community and society. I look forward to heading back to school this Fall and bringing more Listenwise stories into my classroom.

We can’t believe the school year is ending, but here are some awesome story highlights by student request. Not all these stories were published this past year, but these were stories that students this year mentioned as their favorites…Enjoy!

Afghanistan’s Romeo and Juliet

The story of “Romeo and Juliet” is a fictional Shakespearean tragedy about star-crossed lovers. In Afghanistan, falling in love with someone from a different background can get you killed, especially if you are a woman.


Recycling poop in Space
Scientists are finding ways to recycle other waste products including feces.  Listen to hear more about the next steps in making recycling poop in space a reality.


Debate: Should All Kids Get a Trophy?
Many kids receive a trophy, medal or ribbon for participating in sports, science fairs, or other competitions. Some think it’s sending a dangerous message to kids, telling them that they will be rewarded regardless of their effort or success. Some think the trophies are an important marker of participation and they mean something to kids.


The Best & Worst Halloween Candy

Some people rank their favorite candy based on texture or according to the proportion of ingredients such as the ratio of chocolate to caramel. What candy would be on your favorite list?


Teen Girls in Kabul

In Afghanistan, getting an education can be very difficult. Girls in particular face many challenges getting an education and may never even have the opportunity to use the education they receive. Listen to learn how three teenage girls in Afghanistan deal with school and how they plan to accomplish their dreams despite the odds.


March Madness Bball Corruption  

Money, secret deals, and big names in college basketball are involved in an ongoing federal investigation. Listen to learn more about these corruption charges.


Debate: Should Animals Be Allowed in Cafes?

One of the newest trends in coffee shops is welcoming animals. In South Korea, one cafe welcomes raccoons, a typically wild animal that can be dangerous.


Two Paths Leading up to 9/11

While al-Qaida operatives were training and planning the attack against the United States, the US public was distracted by domestic politics and scandals. Listen to learn about what led up to that historic day.


If your students had other story favorites, leave us a comment and share with other Listenwise teachers! Have a great summer!

We are excited to be named a SIIA Education CODiE Award Finalist for the Best ESL, ELL or World Language Acquisition Solution (for a second time)! The SIIA CODiE Awards are the premier awards for the software and information industries, and have been recognizing product excellence for over 30 years. Learn more about the CODiE finalists here.

The awards offer 91 categories that are organized by industry focus of education technology and business technology. Listenwise was honored as one of 152 finalists across the 39 education technology categories. We were a finalist for this same category in 2016, and are thrilled to be a finalist again.

Our product is well suited for english learners (ELs). Listening is a great equalizer, allowing ELs to access the same content as native speakers while they are improving their reading abilities. Through our NPR stories and lessons students can listen to authentic academic language spoken in context.

“We strive to create content that creates meaningful and rigorous educational experiences for all middle and high school students. Being honored for producing an outstanding learning resource is a prestigious and special achievement for Listenwise. ” – Our CEO and Founder, Monica Brady-Myerov.

Winners will be announced during a CODiE Award Celebration at the SIIA Annual Conference & CODiE Awards in San Francisco on June 13.

We mentioned our continued collaboration with Facing History and Ourselves in a previous post if you want to read more about it here. See below for Today’s News, Tomorrow’s History lesson and included resources. This series connects Facing History’s themes with today’s current events using public radio to guide and facilitate discussions around the social issues of our time. Today’s post was originally published on Facing History LA’s blog.

Education is often the key to successful integration of immigrants and refugees into new countries. Understanding the laws of the country for newly arrived people is also critical. In Sacramento, California a new program was started to help refugees and immigrants understand their legal rights in the United States. The goal of the “Understanding Your Rights” program in Sacramento is to protect the rights of every individual who comes in contact with the legal system and provide understanding of the laws if they become the victim of crime or when renting housing, as well as to understand their constitutional rights and civic responsibilities.

The program was developed in collaboration with the district attorney’s office, police department, and schools. It was sparked by an increase in refugee groups moving into the area and a concern to educate them on their basic rights. Many immigrants from places such as Iraq, Afghanistan, and Russia may be hesitant to go to police officers, so they need education in how American laws may differ from their own country. Included in the training are victim rights, how to interact with law enforcement, the criminal justice system, and their role in the community. This program benefits immigrants and refugees in increasing their understanding as well as benefiting law enforcement by increasing the chance that criminal activity is reported.

The “Understanding Your Rights” program is offered on campuses across Sacramento, in a charter school network that teaches adults English, citizenship, and job training. Listen to hear more about this new program that will help people understand the laws in the United States.


Join the conversation:

  • What is the goal of the program to educate refugees and immigrants?
  • What are the reasons people might support or oppose this program?
  • Why do you think people who are from Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and Russia might be afraid to contact law enforcement officials?
  • What is your opinion of this new program? Do you think it will be successful in meeting the goals? What do you think would need to be included in this program to make it successful?


Keep the conversation going with Facing History:

  • See how students at one Facing History school laid a foundation for humanizing immigrants with this video from Not In Our Schools: No Human Being Was Born Illegal
  • Consider the importance of creating a safe and reflective classroom environment for these conversations with Contracting.
  • Sometimes it can be helpful to move outside of our direct experience in order to gain the distance which can help us think through a complicated issue.  These resources can help students explore immigration in Europe to enlighten questions and themes which may be relevant in the US as well.
  • Interaction between law enforcement and those who have been marginalized or targeted by law enforcement can be fraught with tension.  In the unit Facing Ferguson: News Literacy in a Digital Age, one lesson explores the challenge of changing beliefs when it comes to law enforcement.  What might this suggest for any fruitful engagement around educating immigrants about their rights?
  • This story highlights what immigrants can learn in America, but what can we learn from them?  This poem provides a window into the enormity of the decision to leave home.


Explore more stories about refugees and immigration from Listenwise.