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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.

Teacher Advocate, Erik Eve, an 8th grade social studies teacher from Lindenhurst, NY visited us with his class of 46 students last week. We were thrilled to host a podcasting workshop with an amazing, exuberant, and articulate group of students.


After a half day together the students left with podcast recordings ready to edit into a full podcast. The topic of hurricanes was chosen by Mr. Eve, since Hurricane Sandy affected so many students and families in the area. Students shared their experiences, listened to each other, and then translated that into their own podcast. The students split into four groups, each with a topic related to hurricanes, including causes, effects, and how people help each other afterward.


The first half of the workshop was spent learning about what makes a good audio story. We listened to a great story on Listenwise about Kendo swordfighting, and then listed the components of good storytelling. Then students learned how to create a podcast. They listened to Listenwise stories about hurricanes to gather facts and information, and then were free to create their own content based on their topic. In four groups, the students collaborated to assign roles, write the script, edit, practice, and record their own podcasts on hurricanes. Students directed their own learning and each group took their podcast in a different direction.


The end result was better than we could have expected! We’ll share the final project, which will also include a community component where students interview leaders, volunteers, and homeowners who survived Hurricane Sandy back in Lindenhurst.


Here are some takeaways as to why some of the students liked learning with podcasts…

Does this sound interesting? Try this student-directed project yourself! Choose a topic and find Listenwise stories that students can listen to for background information gathering, then let your students create a script and produce their own podcasts. Feel free to use NPR as a resource for ideas on how to write for audio and how to record. Happy podcasting! Find more podcasting resources on our teacher support center.


Today’s guest post is written by WOW in the World, a STEM-oriented podcast for students K-6.

In honor of Teacher Appreciation Week, Wow in the World is holding a very special contest. Through our Teachers That Wow Contest we are seeking amazing teachers wowing their student’s worlds every day. We know you’re out there and we want to celebrate you! Families can find contest details and rules at https://tinkercast.com/teachers/. If you can best express how your teacher inspires you, there is a chance you could win a video call from Guy and Mindy for your class. Think of it as a virtual classroom visit!

But wait, there’s more! We’re also offering teachers everywhere free access to Wow in the World’s weekly digital resources for the rest of the month! Why? Because we love teachers and we want fabulous ones like you to bring even more WOW into your world- your classroom world that is! Our hope is that while listening to the show with your students, you’ll all learn something new and perhaps be inspired to further explore that something together. Lucky for you, we at Wow have lots of resources to help you do just that! Like the free Conversation Starters we post online with every episode, as well as, all of the digital resources available to our members. We’ve got tons of extension activities like experiments, crafts, recipes and related book lists to keep the WOW flowing in your classroom. Check out our most recent ones right here.

Wow in the World is a STEM-oriented podcast for K-6 students hosted by Guy Raz (NPR’s Ted Radio Hour, How I Built This) and Mindy Thomas (Sirius XM’s Kid’s Place Live). Every week, Guy and Mindy guide curious kids and their grown-ups on exciting journeys into the wonders of the world around them.

For every episode, we pour through peer reviewed scientific journals looking for stories of hope, innovation, progress and discovery that spark a sense of wonder and compel grownups and children to lean in and say “WOW”! Then we tell those stories through a fun fact meets fiction narrative that’s as zany as it is brainy. Recent episodes have invited listeners to explore the who, what, when, where, why, how and wow of topics such as antibiotic resistance, climate change, and the future of artificial intelligence.

We look forward to lots of classrooms joining us on this big adventure!

Keep on WOWing,

Team Tinkercast

We are excited to announce the launch of our new podcast, Talk Sup.

Talk Sup is a podcast that listens to superintendents. We strive to elevate Superintendents’ voices, philosophies, and goals to highlight the great work that educators are doing in their communities.

We also get personal. We want you to really get to know what motivates, scares, thrills and excites superintendents.

Our first episode highlights Paul Gothold, the San Diego County Superintendent of Schools, and a 25-year educator who has championed educational equity.  

You’ll hear Dr. Gothold share the key to his success in Lynwood School District and his three priorities for San Diego County in order to reach all students across the county, especially historically underserved students.

You’ll also learn what makes Dr. Gothold cry. Listen here.

In episode two, listen to Dr. Richard M. Sheehan, who serves as the Superintendent of the Covina-Valley Unified School District. Dr. Sheehan visits every classroom in the district four times a year. He shares a memorable classroom visit story, where all the preschoolers surprised him by wearing felt beards. Listen here.

We hope you find the content interesting and engaging! Have a listen on Apple itunes, Stitcher, or wherever you find your podcasts.

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.

We will be adding conversations with superintendents throughout the school year, so stay tuned!

There are many ways to set up a listening lesson with your class. Here are some ideas to help you get started and have students find out more about themselves and their listening styles.

When presenting Listenwise to your students and listening to a story together as a class, there will be a wide variety of listening styles in the room. Some people close their eyes and remain perfectly still. There are always a few fidgeters: pen-flipping, leg-swinging, chair-rocking people. Some people doodle and some people stare into space, or at the teacher, while they focus on listening to the content. As you can see in this picture, some people even style hair while they focus on listening.

You will find a variety of listening styles in your students. Here are a few suggestions for you to help students identify the listening style that works best for them.

First, choose 3 stories that your students will be interested in. For the first story, have everyone listen with their eyes closed or heads down. Since the goal is to have students understand what they listened to, when the audio is finished students could answer the comprehension questions or take a multiple-choice quiz. They could also write a summary of the story. And then to encourage metacognition, students can free write their thoughts to reflect on how well they listened in this style.

You can repeat this process with the next two stories, maybe having students fidget or move while listening to the second story, and lastly have students read the transcript while listening to the third story. You could get student suggestions on how they might want to try listening to the next story, and listen in that style.


Here’s a quick recap to help you find your listening style:

  1. Choose stories
  2. Identify a style to try out
  3. Listen to a story
  4. Check comprehension
  5. Free write about how well they listened


After completing the 3 or so exercises, have your students compare their free write for each listening style and cross-reference that with how well they understood each story based on the written summary, questions, or quiz. Then they can use that style when they listen to stories going forward.

Students can make modifications as they continue to listen and discover what works best for them to increase their understanding while listening. To encourage this thinking, be sure to ask students, “How well did you listen?” This question will encourage them to be metacognitive about their listening comprehension and make changes if needed.

Share your experiences with what works best for your classroom and your students!

We are excited to build on our collaboration with Facing History and Ourselves, a nonprofit international educational and professional development organization with offices all across the U.S. and in London and Toronto. Their mission is to to engage students of diverse backgrounds in an examination of racism, prejudice, and antisemitism in order to promote the development of a more humane and informed citizenry. They have amazing resources for teachers where you can find compelling classroom resources, learn new teaching methods, meet standards, and make a difference in the lives of your students.

We’ve been collaborating with Facing History and Ourselves over the past few years by contributing to their blog, Facing Today, with the series Today’s News, Tomorrow’s History. Each blog focuses on a theme found in a Listenwise audio story and includes resources from both Listenwise and Facing History. You can view the collection here or check out our latest lesson about the future for teachers with DACA or read about  What Students Understand about Slavery.

We are now expanding our collaboration to have California themed lessons with Facing History Los Angeles on their blog, Learn + Teach + Share. In California, Listenwise has collaborated to support a professional development session with an emphasis on listening skills (using a story on removing Confederate monuments) and has started contributing monthly blog posts. Check out the latest blog about helping immigrants and refugees understand their legal rights in Sacramento and stay tuned for upcoming resources!

We will continue to build on this great synergy between our organizations to continue to provide resources and content to educators like this 30-minute webinar on how listening is a pathway to empathy. The discussion explores using actions to increase our empathy toward those that look and act differently from us, who believe in different things, or who live in different places.

We had a busy month at Listenwise! We traveled all over California (and Austin) and met so many amazing educators! Here’s all that we did…



This year’s SXSWedu had an eclectic mix of sessions from AI and VR to a first grader sharing meditation strategies from the classroom. That’s a wide spectrum. And I think it’s makes SXSWedu so different from other education conferences. Because it’s not subject specific or tech specific, it attracts a wide variety of education leaders who want to talk about pedagogy as well as trends. I spent time in the Innovation Hub, where Listenwise had a booth. A mix of teachers, administrators, and industry scouts strolled by on a regular basis.



Stepping into the San Diego Town & Country Resort for the CATE conference, I was transported to an era of tuxedos and ball gowns. That’s not what the teachers were wearing, it was just the aura given by the elegant ballroom and surroundings of the 1950’s era resort. What a great location to meet hundreds of English teachers gathering for the California Association of Teachers of English conference.

At our booth, we met many teachers who were looking for ways to improve their students’ literacy scores on the CAASPP by focusing on listening skills. The listening strand of the CAASPP is the most challenging for CA districts to meet, so they were excited to learn that we can help. Listenwise is the only tool that allows students to practice listening with a multiple choice, auto-scored listening quiz that mirrors the CAASPP.


It’s clear English teachers understand the connection between listening and reading and are familiar with the research that shows better listeners are better readers. We are committed to helping improve literacy for all students and believe deeply that listening is the missing link to literacy.

We also met many lovers of public radio who proudly wore the pins we gave away that proclaimed them to be a “Public Radio Nerd”.



We escaped a Boston snow storm just in time to reach Palm Springs and make it to CUE on time. Good thing we did. What a great conference! The first day was the most packed in the exhibit hall and we talked to SO many wonderful educators. It was clear that many people had just administered the ELPAC and were looking for teaching support, and others are thinking about the CAASPP. We met a lot of k12 educators, teachers, principles, and TOSAs.

Great to see many more lovers of public radio, and even one who was already rocking a NPR tote bag 🙂

We were also lucky visit James Workman Middle School in Palm Springs and gain insight into how they use Listenwise to improve listening skills for the SBAC and their English Learners. Awesome to get feedback from current users on ways we can improve Listenwise and great to meet new users and share our 30-day free trial.




This year’s CABE conference in Sacramento was centered around the strengths of bilingualism and the importance of equity for our English Learners. As always, CABE was buzzing with Mariachi music and we felt the infectious energy from parents, teachers, and administrators.

Dozens of teachers and administrators attended our presentation on “How to Teach Listening for the CAASPP and ELPAC” and we found there was an appetite for resources to improve students’ listening skills. Did you know that listening was the lowest literacy strand assessed statewide in CA last year? The new English Language Proficiency Assessment in California, known as the ELPAC, is far more rigorous than the previous iteration, requiring a higher level of listening performance. Participants left the presentation eager to implement Listenwise in their schools and districts to help students practice listening comprehension.

Back at the exhibit hall, we saw some familiar faces (shout out to the team at Sunrise Middle School!) and we made some new friends, too. Our conversations reaffirmed our commitment to providing the highest quality listening resources to bolster literacy skills and ensure that English Learners are given equal opportunity to realize their full potential.

We had a great month – loved seeing old friends and meeting new ones – and as always do reach out to us if you have feedback about our product, etc. We love hearing from you!

Join us for our upcoming FREE webinar series! We’ll start with a panel of our Listenwise teacher advocates to give you ideas on how to use Listenwise in your classroom. Come ready with questions! You can also hear from Timothy Shanahan on the connection between listening, reading and literacy and learn more about how you can set up a debate in your classroom with another Listenwise user, Bob Donahue!


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


April 25 – 4 pm PST, 7 pm EST
Listenwise Teacher Best Practices – Panel
Hear tips on using Listenwise in engaging ways from our Teacher Advocates. How do you integrate Listenwise into the curriculum while motivating students? What works well? What do their students love? Hear from Mike Messner, Katie Booth, and Scott Petri—and bring your questions!


April 30 – 4 pm PST, 7 pm EST
Tim Shanahan – Reading, Listening and Literacy
Learn from one of the world’s premier literacy educators. With experience as past president of the International Literacy Association, and leadership of the National Reading Panel other federal research panels, Tim will share his experience and research as he discusses the connection between reading, listening and literacy.


May 2 – 1 pm PST, 4 pm EST
Creating Classroom Debates, with Bob Donahue
Hear from our 2017 great debate contest winner! Listen to Bob talk about how you can set up a debate in your classroom and teach students to find evidence to support their claims and defend their reasoning. Hear tips on how to facilitate engaging and thought-provoking debates inspired by Listenwise stories.