Go To Listenwise Listenwise

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!





Earth Day is celebrated in 192 countries on April 22nd, but you can celebrate all month long in your classroom! We put together this collection of current events and lessons related to issues affecting the environment around the globe. Expand students’ knowledge of environmental issues and challenge them to become advocates for environmental protection.

Check out our previous Earth Day collection for a longer list of lessons. Here are our most recent Earth stories from the past year below:


Current Events:

   The Challenges of Creating a Recyclable K-Cup

   The Footprint of a Loaf of Bread

   Wildfires Caused Primarily by Humans

   Debate: How Can We Address Global Pollution?

   Wind Power on Forest Land

   Storing Rain Underground

   Air Pollution in France Leads to Temporary Ban on Sports

   Solar Powered Plane Makes Historic Around the World Trip

   How Wind Affects Wildlife

   Universal Recycling Law Keeps Food from Landfills



   Extreme Heat

   How the Weather Influenced ‘Frankenstein’

April is National Poetry Month! First celebrated in 1996, the Academy of American Poets organized the holiday to increase awareness and appreciation of poetry in the United States. During Poetry Month, help your students explore the stories and people behind the most famous poems with these Listenwise stories. We suggest kicking off your poetry lesson with this story which shows students the relationship between poetry and music. You can listen to an audio poem each day from the Poetry Foundation, or participate in Newsela’s poetry month challenge!

Find a few audio resources from the Listenwise site below.

Current Events

    America’s First Black Poet

   Francis Scott Key: Lawyer, Poet, and Creator of “The Star Spangled Banner”  

    Maya Angelou, Poet, Author and Civil Rights Activist, Dies at 86

   Walt Whitman’s ‘Leaves Of Grass’

   A Friend Remembers Robert Frost

   The Life and Poetry of Sylvia Plath

   Lord Tennyson and the Real Light Brigade

   Rudyard Kipling’s Poetry


Lesson Plans

   ‘Beowulf,’ Paganism and Christianity

   Translations of ‘Dante’s Inferno’

   Gary Soto’s Poetry

   Poetry Reflecting World War I

   The Life of Langston Hughes

   Poet Seamus Heaney

   Modernist Poet T.S. Eliot

   Poet Emily Dickinson, an Eccentric Recluse

   The Life of Sylvia Plath

   Maya Angelou’s Life and Legacy

Other Poetry Resources

From Edutopia

From Share My Lesson

From Facing History

For ELLs from Colorin Colorado

From the National Council of Teachers of English


How did we decide which components of listening to measure and assess in our listening comprehension quizzes? We identified core elements included in research based reading assessments, given the correlation between listening comprehension and reading comprehension.

Speaking and Listening is now an anchor standard in the Common Core ELA standards and the Smarter Balanced consortium has already included listening questions in their assessments.

In fact, listening now comprises up to 20% of the SBAC ELA test.

Despite this newly assessed skill, there are few resources that specifically address listening in middle and high school. This has led to disparities in student performance and placed teachers in a challenging position.

Benton Lewis, who teaches 11th grade ELA in Clovis, CA, has used Listenwise and seen his students’ listening scores rise by 12 percentage points from 2015 to 2016. Lewis states, “I think, just logically speaking, at least part of that is due to Listenwise.

With listening skills tested in 15 states, Listenwise stories and quizzes provide practice and instructional support in helping students master the Evidence Statements of Claim #3 on the SBAC along with meeting the CCSS Listening and Speaking Standards. An alignment of these components with Listenwise assessment components is outlined in the chart below.


Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium Claims

The Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) is comprised of claims and targets that together can be used to make statements about student achievement. The claim is a broad statement that will outline the outcomes achieved with mastery of the standards within it. Listenwise helps students master Claim #3, and helps teachers measure progress toward student mastery.


Claim #3: Speaking and Listening

Students can employ effective speaking and listening skills for a range of purposes and audiences.


Common Core Anchor Standards for Speaking and Listening

The Common Core Anchor Standards define the skills and understandings that all students must demonstrate at the end of each grade. To meet the Speaking and Listening Anchor standards, students must have opportunities to take part in a variety of rich, structured conversations which requires that students contribute information, respond to what others have said, and analyze and synthesize ideas in various subject areas. Listenwise helps students meet these standards and helps teachers provide rich resources to practice and track progress in these skills.

SL.2 Integrate and evaluate information presented in diverse media and formats, including visually, quantitatively, and orally.

SL.3 Evaluate a speaker’s point of view, reasoning, and use of evidence and rhetoric.


Listenwise Alignment

Listening is key to all effective communication. To improve student listening skills, we need to be able to gather data on their skills, target specific areas of need, and then be able to provide personalized instruction and practice.

At Listenwise we support teachers in their practice by providing instructional support in 21st century skills, specifically listening. In order to best build listening skills, we identified the 8 key elements of listening and aligned them to Common Core State Standards in Listening and Speaking, Reading, and SBAC evidence statements. There is a direct link between what we are measuring and the standards taught on the CCSS and what is being assessed in the SBAC Claim #3.

We developed ways to help students practice the discrete skill of listening with a multiple choice formative listening assessment. Within these assessments we included questions on these 8 key components, so teachers can analyze data by key listening strands. By looking at overall quiz data and breaking it down by key listening component, teachers can see patterns and identify needs, both for a class and individual students who might need additional support, and then move forward to meet those needs.

Already we’ve seen that teachers who have been using Listenwise are seeing growth in their students’ listening outcomes. Benton Lewis, an ELA teacher from Fresno, California saw a 12% increase in SBAC listening performance from 2015 to 2016. He’s excited to go further now that the assessments are available.

“Being able to look at the [listening] strands and who did well and who didn’t, allows us to reteach…so we can do more focused teaching on those lessons at a later point.” said Lewis.

How did we decide what 8 key components of listening we wanted to track and assess? We identified elements that are seen in reading assessments because we know the important connection between reading and listening. While listening and reading are both comprehension skills, the kinds of natural speech found in these audio stories is not organized as a well-written essay, with a topic sentence or linear progression of ideas. Students need to practice identifying and summarizing the most important ideas in the audio. When students are listening to a speaker’s voice, they can also pay attention to the tone, emphasis, and pacing of the speech to make inferences and identify the speaker’s point of view.


The Key Components of Listening

      • Literal Knowledge: A question about descriptions, facts and details including  information that is explicitly stated is asked in each quiz.
      • Vocabulary: A question about word meanings is asked in each quiz, identifying the meaning of words in the context of the story.
      • Inferencing: A question asking students to make an inference as they listen is included in each quiz, connecting pieces of text together with student prior knowledge and experience, that goes beyond the literal meaning of the audio content.
      • Main Idea: A question asking students to generalize the content as a whole and identify the main ideas of the information presented is asked in each quiz.
      • Summarizing and Drawing Conclusions: Students are asked to identify a summary of the audio content and its overall ideas, or draw conclusions by making a judgement about the information provided in the audio story.  
      • Point of View and Speaker’s Purpose: Students listen to identify and evaluate the speaker’s purpose and why they are sharing this information. Students also identify the point of view of the story or the viewpoint of a speaker in the story.
      • Analyze Reasoning: Students  evaluate the reasoning , credibility, and relevance of a speaker or author’s ideas and information.
      • Finding Evidence: Students identify quotes or statements in the audio that provide evidence to support their thinking and inferences about the content.



Example of a question on the component of Literal Knowledge:
listening assessment question on literal knowledge

Example of a question on the component of Speaker’s Purpose:

listening comprehension quiz question on speaker's purpose

Example of a question on the component of Finding Evidence:

listening comprehension quiz question on finding evidence

If you have Premium Listenwise access you can access the quizzes right away. Log in and look for the Quiz icon next to lesson titles. We are adding new quizzes every week.
If you don’t have Premium yet,  your students take our Listening Challenge for free!

Today’s post is written by Michael F. Opitz, professor emeritus of reading education from the University of Northern Colorado who has investigated numerous literacy topics, including listening over two decades. His substantive research on teaching listening resulted in his book, Listen Hear! 25 Effective Listening Comprehension Strategies (Heinemann, 2004). He is the author of and coauthor of numerous books, articles, and reading programs. Read his first blog here called 5 reasons why you should teach listening and second blog called 7 guidelines for teaching listening.

Several years ago, Thomas G. Devine noted that we learn more through television, radio, and movies than we do in formal schooling. Without a doubt, speakers are in a powerful position to influence listeners and teaching students how to listen is imperative for them to be able to think for themselves. This is exactly the focus of Listenwise.

Understanding how to teach listening necessitates understanding of the different types of listening that you want students to develop. Each level has corresponding skills.

Discriminative listening is foundational to the other levels. For example, being adept with discriminative listening puts students in a better position to listen for specific details (i.e., precise listening), use vocal expressions and nonverbal cues to make decisions about the speaker’s message (i.e., strategic listening), use nonverbal cues to determine a speaker’s perspective (critical listening), and use sounds to appreciate what they are listening to (i.e., appreciative listening). These are ways that foundational discriminative listening skills come into play in other listening levels.  That said, one level is not necessarily a prerequisite to the next. Students can be adept with one type of listening, yet not with another and they can develop listening skills at all levels simultaneously. These skills also cross grade levels. Sixth graders, for example, can be taught to listen precisely and critically. Much depends on the intended purpose for the listening experience and conveying that purpose to students at the start of a listening lesson.

Discriminative listening is being able to listen to pertinent sounds as well as being able to distinguish between verbal and nonverbal cues. Tongue twisters are one way to help students develop the ability to hear differences among sounds whereas showing students how to use their voices to convey various emotions to listeners is a way to teach them how to use verbal cues. Having students attend and interpret the speaker’s mannerisms (e.g., smiles, crossed arms, clenched fists) is a way to teach how nonverbal cues convey the speaker’s message.

Precise listening helps ascertain specific information. Teaching children how to recall details, how to paraphrase information, how to follow spoken directions are the types of skills that call for precise listening.

Strategic listening is basically helping students listen for understanding. Teaching students how to connect the ideas they are hearing with their prior knowledge about the topic, how to summarize information, how to compare and contrast information, and how to make inferences are skills associated with strategic listening. This level calls on listeners to concentrate on the intended meaning.

Critical listening is all about helping learners not only comprehend the spoken message, but how to evaluate it. They are able to scrutinize and analyze the message, looking for logic and statements that either support or negate the stated message, in order to be convinced that the speaker is credible. Teaching students how to recognize bias, distinguish among fact and opinion, and detecting propaganda techniques are skills that enable them to listen critically.

Appreciative listening is appreciating the overall style of the speaker and is fairly individualistic. As we listen at this level, different aspects of what we are hearing catch our attention. This is why some might enjoy listening to some types of poetry, songs, musical scores more so than others. Teaching students how to recognizing the power of language, appreciate oral interpretations, and understand the power of imagination are ways to help learners become appreciative listeners.

In summary, there are five listening levels and each has associated skills. These are shown in the table below. Teaching listening skills to students is about showing them how to listen rather than telling them to listen.


Listening Level Brief Definition Associated Comprehension Skills
Discriminative Listening to pertinent sounds as well as distinguishing between verbal and nonverbal cues •Phonological awareness

•Vocal expression


Precise Listening to ascertain specific information •Finding the meaning of words from context

•Recalling details

•Following directions

Strategic Listening to gain an understanding of the intended meaning •Predicting

•Making an inference

•Identifying main ideas

Critical Analyzing and evaluating the message •Recognizing bias

•Distinguishing between fact and opinion.

•Detecting propaganda techniques

Appreciative Listening to appreciate the oral style •Recognizing the power of language

•Appreciating oral interpretations

•Understanding the power of imagination

We have concluded our first series of webinars – thanks to all who signed up and attended. All the webinars are archived on our website, see below for details.

Feel free to share with your networks!

Navigating Fake News in the Classroom
Recorded on April 13, 2017





Bringing History to Life with Public Radio
Recorded April 11, 2017




How to Teach and Assess Listening
Recorded April 26, 2017





Building Empathy with Podcasts & Public Radio
Presented w/Facing History and Ourselves 

Recorded May 11, 2017

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.


               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

           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






We are excited to partner with EPS Literacy and Intervention, a division of School Specialty. This partnership will bolster listening as a critical classroom skill by adding Listenwise Premium to the EPS portfolio of classroom literacy and intervention resources.

For over 60 years EPS Literacy and Intervention has provided targeted instruction and intervention solutions to support, supplement, and enhance the diverse educational needs of K-12 teachers and students. School Specialty is a leading distributor of innovative and proprietary products, programs and services to the education marketplace.  

“By welcoming Listenwise to the School Specialty family, we are now offering teachers access to an innovative and effective listening platform that will help them strengthen students’ overall comprehension,” said Bodie Marx, Senior Vice President of Sales and Product Development, School Specialty Curriculum.

Read the full press release here.

This was my first time in SXSWedu, and I had a great time in Austin. It was such a fun atmosphere, and I left with information overload—in the best way. I had a great time connecting with educators on twitter, making a podcast with a new friend I met, and engaging in hands-on creative team-building activities.

Some standout sessions I attended:


“Teaching Storytelling for Empathy and Engagement”

Presented by Micaela Blei of The Moth podcast.

Telling stories allows teachers to bring themselves into the classroom in an authentic way.  Micaela was a brilliant speaker. She started out with her own story to draw in the participants and then went on to dissect the elements of her story and talked about what makes a good story. She helped educators think about how they can bring stories into their classroom with best practices, tips, and tricks.

“If you are telling a story about what matters to you – people will be right there with you.” -Micaela

What makes a good story?

  • Change – growth or change of some sort
  • Theme – keeping to the plan, having a focus, knowing what to say and what is too much to say
  • Being real – choosing something you can honestly talk about.


“Podcasts Lead to Deeper Understanding”

Presented by Monica Brady-Myerov of Listenwise, Emily Donahue of KUT, and Michael Godsey, a teacher and author

Of course I’m a little biased, because Listenwise helped lead this workshop, but I enjoyed hearing three different perspectives that showed educators how to incorporate audio within the classroom in manageable steps. Monica began with the research behind auditory learning, Michael jumped in with how using and creating podcasts has been rewarding and challenging for his students, and Emily explored the best practices and tips for creating stories.

“For radio, for audio, the most powerful way to tell a story is with other people’s voices.” -Emily

“Ask open ended questions to get people to open up. Who, what, when, why, and how. Ask people about their emotions.” -Emily

And the first steps to think about are:

  • What is the story you want to tell?
  • Who do you need to speak with?
  • After speaking with them, what conclusion did you draw?

I even got to try out creating a podcast by using my iphone voice memo feature to record, and then I edited the audio in a free tool called Soundtrap. (Audacity is also another free option for editing.) To share the audio, I could upload the finished product on Soundcloud after sharing with my class/community.


“Facing Ferguson: A News Literacy Case Study”

Panel by: Steve Becton of Facing History and Ourselves, Callie Crossley of WGBH, Alan Miller, President & CEO of the News Literacy Project, and Brittany Noble-Jones, co-anchor of News Channel 12.

This panel session was very powerful and full of really good information. The panel discussed how the fatal police shooting of Michael Brown in 2014 ignited national debates about race, policing, and justice and what it has done for our news and media reporting. It was extremely powerful to hear Brittany Noble-Jones who was one of the first reporters on the scene of the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.

Steve Becton had some very insightful thoughts about teaching news within your classrooms: “Students are not only great consumers of news, they are unofficial producers of news, because of the opportunities of social media. They know quite a bit about what is going on. The challenge that educators have is, “How do we bring news media into a learning environment so that kids can walk away with real skills?”

The panel discussed the new role of social media and with technology and internet, news now travels a lot faster than it has in the past. The panel dissected fact vs. bias and how all news is not created equal, and how we navigate falsities that spread fast across the media.

I walked away with so much to think about. How do we humanize people in the news? How do we walk in other people’s shoes- to develop empathy? How does doing this inform student civic participation?

Check out more on twitter at: #factsvsbias


“How to Best Serve ELLs with Edtech”

Panel by: Monica Brady-Myerov, Jordan Meranus of Ellevation, and Becky Palacios of ABCmouse

This was another great discussion, and a great way to end the conference. The overarching theme of the panel was stated by Jordan Meranus of Ellevation: “What English learners need is what all students need.”

The audience was heavily engaged as the panel discussed the ELL population growth and expected trajectory, how edtech can be situated to support this growing population, why there aren’t more edtech companies specifically focused on ELLs, and what administrators and school leaders need to embrace, among many other questions.

Questions from the audience centered around what educators can do now with technology, and what we want to see happening in the future with edtech. One poignant question from the audience asked: “Years from now what would you like to see edtech doing for ELL students and teachers?”

The panel response was very much in agreement that they don’t want to see a segmented population of ELLs and non ELLs, and would love to see more integrated solutions for the whole classroom.  Along with edtech tools developed for all teachers at elementary, middle and high school levels to deliver content at the level they need.  Lastly, a key point was that there should be more focus on empowering our English language learners in the U.S. to be global thinkers and feel pride in being multilingual. Everyone, teachers and students, should be advocates for multilingualism and a multicultural and multilingual society.



Thanks to awesome co-presenters we collaborated with: Teacher Mike Godsey and Emily Donahue from KUT on a podcasting workshop, Jordan Meranus from Ellevation, and Becky Palacios from ABCmouse and Colorin Colorado.

Find more content on twitter: @chelsmurph or @listenwiselearn or #sxswedu

For more pictures of the conference I’ve posted them on our Listenwise Facebook page.