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This past week at the American Library Association (ALA) Annual Conference in Chicago we were honored as one of AASL’s 2017 Best Websites for Teaching & Learning!

The Best Websites for Teaching & Learning list is based on feedback and nominations from AASL members. The annual list honors 25 websites that provide enhanced learning and curriculum development for school librarians and their teacher collaborators. Now in its ninth year, with 225 recognized sites, the list is considered the “best of the best” by AASL.

Here are the 25 websites honored this year:

  • Media sharing: Elink, Screen-cast-omatic, My Simpleshow, Pixabay, ClassHook
  • Digital storytelling: The Learnia, Spreaker, Write the World, Buncee
  • Manage and organize: Sugarcane, Google Keep, Baamboozle, Cite This For Me
  • Social networking and communications: Vizia, Formative, Flipgrid
  • Curriculum collaboration: Wizer, OER Commons
  • Content resources: US Holocaust Museum, Arts Edge, Common Lit, Media Smarts, Listenwise, Poets.org, DuoLingo


The Best Websites for Teaching & Learning provide a foundation to support AASL’s learning standards and each website is linked to one or more of the four strands of the “Standards for the 21st-Century Learner” – skills, dispositions in action, responsibilities and self-assessment strategies. These websites foster the qualities of innovation, creativity, active participation and collaboration. These honored websites are free, web-based sites that are user-friendly and encourage a community of learners to explore and discover.

Learn more at: www.ala.org/aasl/bestwebsites.

We are excited to be heading to ISTE (June 26-28)  next week!

Visit the Booth

The Listenwise team will be at Booth #2132 in the Startup Pavilion with live demos, swag, and chances to win Listenwise Premium! Look for Chelsea and Monica in our fun blue shirts!

Attend our Poster Session

Monica will discuss how you can create podcasts in your classroom on Monday, June 26. Find us early in the morning from 8 –10 am in the Tower View Lobby at Table 25.


Listen and Learn at the Technology-Based Literacy Resources Lecture

Connect with Monica on Monday, June 26 in Room 301A. Monica and others will present emerging technology-based resources and practices with high potential to improve and transform learning and teaching. Leave this session with ideas, insights and resources ready to impact your classroom and practice.


Find us at Google

We’ll also by popping through Google’s Booth #1718 on Tuesday between 11:45 am – 2:45 pm and Wednesday from 9:30 am – 12 pm to demo Listenwise, answer questions about the active listening bundle for Chromebooks, and more. We are excited to meet you! Learn more about our partnership with Google here.


Not able to make it to ISTE?

Follow along on Twitter @listenwiselearn and join the conversation #ISTE17 or #notatISTE.

Summer is here! We’ve put together a list of stories  that you can listen to this summer while you are walking in the park, at the beach, or working at your summer job.  Some of these stories are not necessarily aligned to a curriculum, but are relevant or thought provoking. Summer is a good time to explore other topics and spark other interests.

Get ready to start listening to some great local and national public radio stories.


Enjoy Your Summer 2017 Listening List


   How Sugar Changes the Brain

   Art Museums Offer Tours for Blind Visitors

   Eating Together Helps People Agree

   Debate: Can Virtual Reality Make You More Empathetic?

   Debate: Do Busy People Get More Things Done?

   Debate: Should Teenagers be Allowed to Drive After Dark?



   Debate: Should Fidget Spinners Be Allowed in Classrooms?

   The World’s Happiest Nation

   PB&J in NBA Locker Rooms

   The Dogs of Capitol Hill

   Making Lunch in Japan is High Stakes

   Sounds and Engaging Teens in Listening Experiences



Thought provoking:

   Teaching Millennial Police Officers to Communicate

   Clash on Climate Change Beliefs within a Family

   Debate: What Helps Students Learn Best? A Lesson from China

    Debate: Do You Think Everyone has a Bias?

   Debate: Does Social Media Affect Your Behavior?

   Debate: How Can Social Media Help Save More Abandoned Dogs and Cats?

   Debate: How Can Students Become Prepared to Spot Fake News?


Lessons to Explore as You Think About Back-to-School:


   Henrietta Lacks and Patient Privacy

   How Snow is Made

   Black Women Math Heroes at NASA

   Caffeine: Helpful or Harmful?


Social Studies

   Growing Up in Revolutionary Iran- Persepolis

   Anne Frank’s Father Attempted to Emigrate

   Civil War’s First African-American Infantry

   British Loyalists After the Revolutionary War



   How the Weather Influenced ‘Frankenstein’

   Totalitarianism in George Orwell’s ‘Animal Farm’

   ‘Don Quixote’ and Being A Dreamer

   Hemingway’s Choices


If you have favorite stories you don’t see here share with us on twitter @listenwiselearn and join the conversation #summerlistening.

Share the summer listening list with your professional networks!

Not only is podcasting fun to do, but podcasting supports important 21st century skills for communication, critical thinking, creativity, and collaboration. Your students will love podcasting as a medium to express themselves, share problem-solving ideas and personal perspectives in story form.

A recent article in The Atlantic says that “podcasters act as storytellers rather than merely as journalists.”

This is the second blog on how to podcast in class. Read Part 1 here where you can learn about all the technical equipment you need to get set up to record, edit and share your podcast. Once you have your equipment, start to experiment! Make sure you know how to setup and use your equipment and how everything works before trying any real recording.

In this blog we’ll talk about the 5 steps for making a podcast: drafting, recording, and tips for putting it all together for a finished product.


Step 1: PLAN

Before you start recording your podcast, it’s important to create a podcast format and content strategy:


  • Format: What’s your podcast going to look like?
  • Content: What’s your podcast going to say?

As a group, decide what you are trying to achieve with your podcast. Start with an idea and do some background research, then hone that idea and identify any sources you might want to interview. If you have a primary source to interview, brainstorm many interview questions and then pick 3 or 4 of the questions you want to record before heading into the interview. Have an idea in your head about where your story may lead before you interview. (Know this may change once you do interview, but it’s always great to have an initial plan.)

Choose roles for your project team.

If you aren’t interviewing someone on your podcast, you can create a show outline and make sure you have all the participant voices planned out. “The Writer” can draft a script, which can be very much like a play script.  

You MUST read your story out loud and time your reading before you start to record. This allows you to hear whether what you wrote actually sounds good. It also allows you to put the time together with the clips from the interviews and see the total length of the feature story. 

Key tips: Think about all the angles or themes or frames for a story. Plan to keep the podcast length to 10-15 minutes. Keep topics moving, and limit topic coverage to 2-3 minutes. Try to use interviews with guests as a way to break up the conversation, pace, and tone of your shows. Here is an example podcast outline. Keep your writing style conversational, easy-to-understand, with little jargon.


Step 2: RECORD

When it’s time to record, “The Recorder” needs to make sure you have an optimal environment for sound recording, meaning somewhere quiet that won’t have many interruptions. Find a quiet spot in a room with a rug and other objects to absorb excess sound. If you have a storage closet in the classroom you can turn it into the recording studio. Read your tracks in a slow, conversational way.  Sound like you are telling this information to a friend and not in a put-on “radio voice”.

Not only should you record the talking parts of the podcast, but also record ambient noises that help tell the story. Not all stories have ambiance. Ambiance is the noise in the background of a story.  But in order to set a scene and paint a picture in people’s minds, it’s best to do it with the ambient sound of the location or subject matter of the story.


Key tips for recording: Keep faces close to mic, don’t speak while others are talking, don’t agree, laugh or make any noise.  Don’t hold the mic directly in front of someone’s mouth as this results in popping “p’s” and other mouth noises.


Step 3: EDIT

When it’s time to edit, “The Editor” will lead the group through listening to all the audio clips of the interviewed guests and choosing which ones to keep, and which ones to cut. “The Editor” helps by advising “The Writer” and “The Director” on story treatments, the best audio to use and parts of a story to highlight. Using the clips that are chosen, the Editor, Director, and Writer will collaborate on the final vision the podcast story, which may have shifted slightly after an interview.


Key tips for editing: Save the recordings in their initial rough copies and make copies when you edit, so that if any mistakes happen in editing you always have back up!



At this stage, the story has taken form and it’s now time to create the final draft and fill in any missing pieces. “The Writer” will keep this in mind as he or she finalizes the overall podcasting story arc and creates the introduction script, any additional pieces that are needed to help move the story, and a conclusion.

Some key tips: Structure the story in a way that delivers compelling information at the top/beginning of the story. Always attribute quotes from sources and let the audience know where your information comes from.



Now is the time to finalize all the components of your podcast story, record, and combine all the audio clips together in a thoughtful way. Everyone will collaborate to help polish the story to embody the vision within the final production.

Key tip: Practice, practice, and practice! Read the script several times out loud before you actually record.


The final version of a high-quality podcast should have a storyline with an introduction and conclusion, showcase multiple voices, and some clips of ambient noise. Music can also be a great addition. Music use in news reporting is not standard but is considered an editorial element. But music can be a powerful tool in the radio storytelling toolbox. Music can build tension, develop emotion and deliver impact. It can be a subtle way to move a story forward or to punctuate a point.

Your final product should be:

  • Clear – The recording is audible and comprehensible.
  • Clean – The recording is well-edited: free of pickups, retakes, and other distractions.
  • Creative – The more unique and engaging a story, the more engaging it will be to the listener.
  • Additive – The audio is there for a reason—for increasing the impact of your storytelling.



Now it’s time to assign a podcasting project to your students!

In your student’s first podcasting project, keep it simple. They should be aiming to research, record, write and edit a feature story that is under two minutes but has at least two actualities.  They should spend one class period or homework session conducting the interviews for the story. Plan to do the editing in class. Happy Podcasting!

What do we want our students to learn? Of course we want them to gain mastery in grade-level content and skills. We may also want them to acquire skills to manage their emotions, set goals, feel empathy, maintain good relationships and make good decisions. Integrating content learning with social and emotional learning is a process that gets results.

Tracy Sockalosky, a 7th grade teacher in Natick, MA says,

“As educators, we must remember that one of our most crucial roles is to teach children to be kind and empathetic human beings.”


Learning from Authentic Voices

Authentic voices are vital for engaging students. With testimony, students are gaining both an understanding of the events of history, but also the raw and powerful emotions that cannot fully be felt from reading text. Listening to firsthand accounts helps students visualize the scene, the environment, and put themselves in the speaker’s shoes. Students can use their imagination to fill in gaps and step back into experiences that are being recounted.

“It is not easy to reach the emotional core of a middle school student with an academic lesson, but the Listenwise stories my students have heard and the classroom discussions that have ensued afterward have truly impacted them in a variety of ways. They leave the classroom talking about them and have wanted to revisit the content with me in casual conversation.”

–Kara Nierman, 7th grade teacher in Rhode Island

Listen to this story to hear how engaging it is! In this story, hear from a Holocaust survivor who escaped a Nazi camp and has lived with survivor’s guilt. The lesson plan explores why it’s important to read and hear the stories of Holocaust survivors.

Create a Safe Place for Student Voices

There are important things happening around us in the world, and it’s critical to have conversations with our students about them. Whether it’s conversations about the Keystone Pipeline, policeimmigration travel ban news, or women’s rights, finding a common ground to connect with your students is important for building a classroom of informed citizens. As a teacher, before you can embark on these discussions, it’s helpful to lay the groundwork and create a safe space for learning and a safe space for having these conversations.

Think about stories that can align to your curriculum, and innovative ways you can incorporate them into your instruction. This Education Week video shows a great lesson that one teacher used to incorporate an authentic speech from President Obama into a discussion of religion and xenophobia with her class.

Facing History and Ourselves has helpful resources to set the scene for authentic classroom conversations. How can you create a safe and reflective classroom where students learn to exchange ideas and listen respectfully to each other? What strategies are most effective in helping students practice constructive civil discourse? Check out this guide: Fostering Civil Discourse: A Guide for Classroom Conversations.

Teaching Tolerance also has a guide that offers practical strategies for creating a space where academic and social-emotional goals are accomplished side by side called Critical Practices for Anti Bias Education.


How Can You Implement Right Away?

Using high-quality, authentic voices create a connection between students’ worlds inside and outside school. Not only can students learn the critical thinking academic skills aligned with content knowledge, they learn empathy – which is imperative to build future-ready citizens who are kind and conscientious.

“We shared the story Selma and Civil Rights with our students. As the students listened to the story, the sounds from the confrontation on the bridge made quite an impression. Also, hearing from someone who was a 13-year-old kid at the time of the march over the bridge helped my students try to imagine what it would have been like if one of them were there. My students were stunned and wanted to engross themselves in the experience more after hearing that story.”

–Kara Nierman, 7th grade teacher in Rhode Island

Check out these stories that all include authentic voices and comment below to share what worked in your classrooms! Happy Listening!


Today’s blog is republished from the Strategic EdTech blog, written by Urvi Morrison, founder and CEO of Strategic Edtech. This post was published on April 24, 2017. 

The emergence of “fake news” and “alternative facts” in today’s political scene and corresponding media frenzies makes it even more important for us to be discerning of fact versus fiction. A growing number of resources have been created by various educational organizations to help educators teach students how to recognize “fake news.” However, to develop open-mindedness to all perspectives, we must learn and teach others to be both critical and empathetic. Reading the news is no longer just about acquiring information but also about discerning truth while developing empathy for others’ perspectives.

In a recent article published on MindShift, Dr. Brené Brown says “empathy consists of four qualities: the ability to take the perspective of another person, staying away from judgment, recognizing emotion in others, and communicating it. She defines empathy as “feeling with people,” and notes that it’s a “vulnerable choice” because it requires a person to “tap into something personal that identifies with the struggle of another.”

Educators can all agree that students should learn empathy. Only through employing empathy can we understand the motivations and experiences of others. MindTools explains that “developing an empathic approach is perhaps the most significant effort you can make toward improving your people skills. When you understand others, they’ll probably want to understand you – and this is how you can start to build cooperation, collaboration, and teamwork.” Although we cannot necessarily teach empathy, we can teach and build upon habits that increase empathic thought and actions. This begins with educators regularly practicing empathy. We often forget that we need to exercise our empathy muscle by engaging in challenging discussions and being vulnerable ourselves – especially around contentious issues or topics.
Listenwise is an incredibly robust and rich edtech tool to teach students about the world and current events; however, it can be used as a professional empathy development tool for educators as well.

These three steps utilize Listenwise to help any educator or administrator further their empathy development:

  1. Create a Community of Practice (CoP) around empathy at your school – a group of educators and administrators
  2. Each CoP member creates an account on Listenwise and chooses 2 articles that they have experienced debates around, are contentious, or are challenging topics students are interested in. Check out these suggestions from Listenwise to use when building empathy skills.
  3. Each CoP member adds each article from the group to their “Favourites” tab for bookmarking
  4. The group is charged with reading the same 2 articles from the list within a week, answering the reflection questions provided by Listenwise
    1. Create an in-person CoP meeting at the end of the week for members to discuss the article, share their reflection answers, and provide insight on how their students see these news pieces
    2. Encourage the group to answer: “What is my viewpoint on this article or topic? How do I feel when I encounter a fellow educator or student how shares the opposite perspective? What can I do as an educator to be respectful of all viewpoints and teach my students to be respectful and open minded?”
  5. The following week, choose 2 new articles from the list and follow the same process as described above

By answering the questions listed above, engaging in discussion around opposing viewpoints, and reading the same articles that the students would be using in class, this process will eventually help educators and administrators practice not only their own professional empathy but also learn to guide students in discussions that lead them to practice empathy. Today’s global political scene creates a perfect opportunity for all of us to practice a little more empathy.


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

(View the full infographic)

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

Listen to Adam Pizzi’s Class Podcast

Listen to this Brookline 8th grade science class’ science podcast around sediment.

Listen to Mr. Godsey’s Class Podcast:

Here’s a list of basic equipment and software that you need (including your computer):

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

Audio Editing Software

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


A Plan to Publish the Podcasts


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

If you are creating podcasts in your classroom using different technology and tactics, please share ideas with us in comments! Stay tuned for the Podcasting Part 2 blog for ways to help you think about best practices for preparing interviews and stories, and structuring the format and content of your podcast.  

We are thrilled to announce that we’ve been selected for the 2017 class of the AT&T Aspire Accelerator program! Now in its third year, the program brings together startups that are tackling the most pressing challenges in education. This year’s class puts us alongside seven other innovative ed-tech organizations.

During our time in the program, we’ll receive financial investment, mentorship and access to expert services from AT&T and others. The Aspire Accelerator is part of AT&T Aspire, the company’s $400 million commitment since 2008 to support education and connect the learning revolution to the young people who need it most.

We can’t wait to get started! Karen and Monica will kick it off this weekend in Utah. Learn more here and stay tuned for updates!

Do kids even enjoy podcasts? Lindsay Patterson wrote in Current that “kids are far from passive listeners. Podcasts are a perfect medium to engage children’s natural curiosity, engagement and delight.”

Molly Bloom, a producer of a kids podcast called Brains On! seems to think so as well…

“There are a lot of kids who love Radiolab. Kids are read stories that don’t have pictures and they can follow it, easily,” said Bloom. “So kids can definitely consume audio-only content and enjoy it. It engages their imagination in the way that watching a television program probably doesn’t.”

At Listenwise, most of our content is curated from NPR stories that is produced for an adult audience. The content and the vocabulary doesn’t always fit a young audience below 5th grade – so we’ve compiled a list of educational podcasts for kids if you have a younger child who you want to teach listening! And we just partnered with Tumble, so we plan to have more Tumble curated content!

Did we miss any of your favorites? Share with us in comments below-


Podcasts for Preschool to Elementary

Tumblea science podcast created to be enjoyed by the entire family. Hosted & produced by Lindsay Patterson (science journalist) & Marshall Escamilla (teacher).







Brains On!® a science podcast for curious kids and adults from American Public Media. Co-hosted each week by kid scientists and reporters from public radio, this podcast is appropriate for all ages.






The Radio Adventures of Eleanor Amplified: An adventure series for the whole family brought to you by WHYY. Eleanor is a radio reporter going after the big story, and she values good journalism, seeking the truth, and sparking conversation. Appropriate for all ages, but recommended for kids 8-12.





But Why: Produced by VPR, this podcast is crafted by kids! Kids ask questions and the podcast will find the answers. Questions range from “how is chocolate made?” to “do bumblebees have hearts?”, so there is something to interest everyone!






Ear Snacks: Featuring kids, they’ve interviewed 60 kids, 35 experts, and even 2 giraffes to create a podcast that is “fun and smart food for thought” for their young and curious audience. Recommended for kids 2-7 years old.





The Show About Science: Hosted by 6 year old Nate, each episode features interesting facts about science and interviews with scientists. From ants to evolution, Nate make science fun and approachable for both kids and adults alike.





Storynory: Storynory is a collection of audio stories for kids. Choose from fairy tales, classic tales, educational stories, and originals from the Storynory team. Most stories are around 15 minutes, so they’re great for bedtime stories.





The Alien Adventures of Finn Caspian: Enjoy this serialized science-fiction story with your kids on your next road trip! This series follows the adventures of a group of friends aboard a space station as they explore planets, encounter aliens, and solve mysteries. Recommended for kids ages 5-10.





Saturday Morning Media: Focused on providing quality, family friendly entertainment, Saturday Morning Media features 5 different podcasts. From a one minute long history-focused show to a video podcast of a beaver telling jokes, there’s something for everyone in the family to enjoy.





Story Pirates: They take original stories from kids and turn them into sketch comedy musicals. Their missions is to celebrate the ideas of kids and empower them to feel confident. While the shows are live across the country, you can listen to every performance on their podcast.





Podcasts for Middle Schoolers and High Schoolers

These aren’t curated specifically for the classroom, so it’s always best to look into the content before you listen with your kids.


Book Club for Kids: Best for teens and tweens, this is a podcast for readers! This show features young readers talking about books, with a celebrity reading from the book in each episode. Kitty Felde has hosted since 2000 and received numerous awards including the prestigious “Literacy in Media” award.





Shabam: A science show without all of the science jargon. From Fooly Boo, this science show blends real science with fictional stories. Each season focuses on a main story — Season 1 features three kid separated from their parents during a Zombie apocalypse!





Youth Radio: The program’s mission is to “revolutionize how youth tell stories and the ways people connect with next-generation journalists and artists.” Through the program, low-income young people ages 14-24 discover journalism, and learn how to produce a podcast and articulate their stories. This podcast is the result of their six months of work in the program!




Science Vs. This show aims to debunk myths and tell the true stories behind popular topics. Using science and facts, Science Vs. determines whether ghosts could exists and what the organic food label really means. Some episodes are not appropriate for younger kids, so we recommend reviewing them before you listen.





Past and the Curious: For history lovers, Past and the Curious presents under-shared stories in the hopes of inspiring children, parents and anyone who loves a great story to appreciate the past. They aim to help their audience discover “that we are all human; and we always have been.”’





Stuff You Missed in History Class: From the HowStuffWorks team, this podcast has an episode for every topic imaginable. Stories cover culture, art, science, and politics both in America and around the world.





Gastropod: This show is all about food! Looking at food through the lens of science and history, Gastropod interviews people and visits places to discover the surprising science behind the world of food.





Flash Forward: Each month, this podcasts takes on a possible scenario and considers how the future would play out. What if California left the United States? What if robots take over farming? Listen to find out!