Go To Listenwise Listenwise

Are you seeking to improve your listening scores on the SBAC, CAASPP, ELPAC, ILEARN, English I and II assessments, TELPAS, WIDA, or other standardized tests? 

ELA and ESL state assessments focus on listening skills in at least 22 states and counting. We know that test preparation can be stressful for teachers and students alike, and we are ready to help.

At Listenwise, we have sought to create tools that support listening instruction in preparation for state assessments, while keeping instruction authentically focused on relevant, engaging content with learning benefits that extend well beyond test prep. Teaching students how to listen is important for literacy, critical thinking, social-emotional learning, and success in college and the workplace. Listenwise is designed to support all of these goals.

Listenwise can help teachers assess students’ listening comprehension with auto-scored quizzes. It can help students practice note-taking while actively listening, thinking critically about academic content, and responding to short-response questions. All of these features can help students prepare for the listening sections of standardized assessments.

Most of the state assessments provide audio content without closed captions or transcripts, so when teachers want to emulate these situations to provide testing practice on the Listenwise platform, they can hide the interactive transcripts. In other instructional situations, using interactive transcripts can provide helpful support that increases listening comprehension. 

For example, in the state test for ELA in California (CAASPP), listening passages include short informational texts that are read aloud by one speaker. The passages are typically related to common grade-level curriculum topics. In order to practice for the CAASPP, teachers can start using Listenwise with the transcripts, and when they get closer to testing time, remove the transcripts so that students can practice listening without reading along. Students can also practice taking notes while listening to the Listenwise podcasts, and they can replay the podcast multiple times. See this test example using an excerpt from “The Birth of a Democracy.” 

For teachers with students taking the English Learner Proficiency Assessments for California (ELPAC), practice sessions should also include audio stories played once from the front of the classroom, as students need to learn how to listen to a passage only once without using interactive transcripts to read along. Instructions should focus on precise and strategic listening to help students practice key listening comprehension skills for the test. Watch this ELPAC listening prep video created by an educator to see what the test looks like.

With listening still ranking among the lowest literacy scores in California, listening is an important skill to integrate into classroom instruction across the curriculum. 

In California 79% of our middle school users increased their listening scores from 2017 to 2019, and Listenwise users outperformed average growth across the state of California. 

“We have found Listenwise to be an excellent tool to prepare EL students for the Listening section of the English Language Proficiency Assessment of California (ELPAC). The test requires students to listen to long passages only once and then recall information. Listenwise gives teachers the opportunity to have students practice in a group setting and individually at home. Additionally, at the high school level, students do not take the CAASPP in 9th or 10th grade, so using Listenwise at those grade levels gives students a chance to continue to interact with and attempt materials and questions similar to the test, so that they do not lose the prerequisite skill sets they need when they take the test again as juniors. Active listening is an incredibly important life skill, and Listenwise lets students practice in a way that is engaging and fun.”

-High School Teacher Specialist in California

As other states begin to test listening, educators will continue to see the importance of teaching listening as an integral part of their literacy instruction. If you are not a California educator, your state ELA tests that address speaking and listening standards will likely function similarly to the CAASPP. Using Listenwise more than once a week with your students and assigning Listenwise listening comprehension quizzes will help your students practice active listening, recognize literal meaning, make inferences, and identify the main idea. Use the Listenwise graphic organizers to help your students take notes and focus while listening, and monitor students’ growth by tracking and analyzing their quiz data.

To help with effective listening test prep, we have collected some informative blog posts and teacher testimonials about integrating listening instruction into teaching:

Other Resources for Addressing Speaking, Listening, & Writing Standards on State Assessments:

  • Planned Speaking Practice (blog post) – Interaction, oral language, speaking practice, cooperative learning, discussion groups…There are many ways to incorporate speaking practice into instruction. The first step is planning for purposeful talk and providing many opportunities for interaction.
  • Oracy Classroom Effective Strategies (Edutopia blog post) Explore strategies for developing confident speakers who can share their thoughts and learning.
  • The Big List of Class Discussion Strategies (Cult of Pedagogy blog post and podcast) 15 formats for structuring a class discussion to make it more engaging, more organized, more equitable, and more academically challenging.
  • What You Learn from Listening to Great Speeches (blog post) Speaking and listening must go beyond “turn and talk” opportunities. Students must be able to present information to small groups and large audiences.
  • How to Podcast in Class: Part 1 (blog post) Podcasting 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.
  • How to Use Listenwise to Improve Listening, Literacy, and Language Skills (blog post) Listenwise is uniquely designed to meet speaking and listening standards while teaching important content. Listenwise podcasts can be used together with texts and other media to spark conversations and analytical thinking.
  • 5 Reasons You Should Teach Listening (blog post) There are many purposes for listening, including understanding and thoughtfully responding to a speaker’s intended message. Teachers can teach students how to listen for a variety of purposes using instructional resources on the Listenwise platform.
  • Teaching Written Argument with Debate Stories (blog post) Listenwise debate stories offer discussion and analysis of a variety of interesting contemporary issues that are well suited for practicing written argument.
  • Appsmashing Listenwise & Newsela (blog post) Pairing text sets and podcasts can help students develop listening, reading, writing, speaking, and critical thinking skills. 
  • Appsmashing Listenwise & Flipgrid for Student Inquiry (blog post)  Appsmashing listening and speaking tools can help students formulate and investigate their own questions.
  • Facilitating Online Discussions Using Google Classroom (blog post) Well-framed, authentic, respectful academic online discussions can provide opportunities for students to build effective arguments backed with evidence, make connections between someone else’s experiences and their own, or explain their understanding of a complex phenomenon using academic language.

The Listenwise platform offers teachers the capability to provide students with personalized feedback on their written assignments. Teachers can make comments or ask questions and then ask students to revise their written responses to assignment questions and resubmit them if needed. This functionality provides a good opportunity for formative assessment, allowing teachers to check students’ understanding, which can then inform future instruction.

Unlike Listenwise quizzes, written assignments are not auto-graded because they are customizable and include open-ended questions. The listening comprehension questions often allow for some variance in student responses, and teachers may modify them for different groups of students. Teachers can choose how to review and assess written assignments on the Listenwise platform in accordance with their instructional goals and assessment practices. 

Helpful feedback provides specific, constructive information about how well students’ work meets expectations for success and guides them to make changes that will lead to improvement. For example, teachers may want to provide feedback about the accuracy of students’ responses to listening comprehension questions, about the form of those responses, and/or about the depth of the responses. They might ask students to listen to the story again to check a response, to write in complete sentences, or to elaborate on their ideas. For more guidance about providing feedback that supports learning, read “The Secret of Effective Feedback” by Dylan Wiliam and “Seven Keys to Effective Feedback” by Grant Wiggins. 

See below for instructions on how to locate and review students’ written assignments on the Listenwise platform.

1. From the Classes tab, scroll to the class you want to review and click See Responses for the desired assignment. You can also navigate to this page from the Assignments tab by clicking the assignment name.

2. On this page, you’ll see your class roster and status of submission for all students (i.e. Not Started, Started, Submitted, Returned).

3. Click on a student’s name to see their submitted assignment. Review their assignment, leave your feedback in the box, and click Submit.

4. Note that students can revise assignments. Simply check the Student needs to revise box before clicking Submit.

We are excited to work with new podcasts made especially for young people in our elementary collection. In order to keep our curated podcasts short enough for a classroom lesson, we often edit the full podcast to make it 3-5 minutes long for flexible classroom use. Therefore, there is much more to hear on all of these podcasts. Learn more about each source, and if you are interested, subscribe and listen to more of their podcasts through the usual podcast apps–Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, etc.

Earth Rangers

Earth Rangers podcast is produced by a non-profit kids’ conservation organization based in Canada. They are committed to “instilling environmental knowledge, positivity and confidence to take action.” There are more resources for teachers in Canada on their website. The podcast features a character called Earth Ranger Emma, who takes listeners on journeys all over the world to speak to scientists in action through the power of audio. You can subscribe through the usual podcast apps.

Explore Earth Ranger podcast lessons on Listenwise:

The Past and the Curious

The Past and the Curious podcast is written and hosted by Mick Sullivan, a history buff from Kentucky. The podcast is built on the premise that history is amazing! Its goal is “to share true stories of inspiration, humor, and the incredible achievements of all types of people,” including those that may be unfamiliar to many. Mick is also the author of The Meatshower: The Mostly True Tale of an Odd (and Somewhat Edible) Occurrence. You can subscribe through the usual podcast apps.

Explore The Past and the Curious podcast lessons on Listenwise:


Tumble is a science podcast for kids. It is a production by a husband and wife team, Lindsay Patterson and Marshall Escamilla. Lindsay is the founder, co-host, and producer, and Marshall is the co-host and writes and produces all the music. Lindsay has a background in public radio and science reporting, and Marshall is a music teacher. Their silly and serious take on science is fun to listen to and always includes an interview with a real scientist involved in discovery. 

Explore Tumble podcast lessons on Listenwise:

The Book Club for Kids

The Book Club for Kids was started by award-winning public radio journalist Kitty Felde. She is also the writer of “Welcome to Washington, Fina Mendoza.” The podcast features middle-grade readers and the books they love. Kitty invites kids to tell her what books to feature, and the podcast includes young readers previewing the book and explaining what they like about it, a celebrity reading from the book, and often an interview with the author. You can subscribe through the usual podcast apps.

Explore Book Club for Kids podcast lessons on Listenwise:

The Good Words Podcast

The Good Words Podcast is “for kids and grown-ups to delight in hilarious, fascinating, wonderful words while we all learn together to use words better, and use better words.” It is written and created by librarian Lynn Hickernell, who also writes and performs music for kids and adults under the name Miss Lynn. Learn more and hear her songs at misslynn.com.  You can listen to this podcast on the Kids Listen app.

Explore Good Words Podcast lessons on Listenwise:

But Why from Vermont Public Radio

But Why: A Podcast for Curious Kids is a show inspired by kids’ questions about anything in the world. It’s produced by Vermont Public Radio and hosted by Jane Lindholm. But Why addresses “topics large and small, about nature, words, even the end of the world.” You can listen to this podcast on iTunes.

Explore But Why podcast lessons on Listenwise:

Bedtime History

Bedtime History is a series of educational, relaxing stories for kids. It is written and produced by Breck LeSeure who was inspired to make the podcast for his children. Learn about inspirational people such as Neil Armstrong, George Lucas, and J.K. Rowling. Other topics include space exploration and great feats of engineering such as the Transcontinental Railroad. Listen on iTunes.

Explore Bedtime History podcast lessons on Listenwise:

Listenwise CEO Monica Brady-Myerov recently visited classrooms in California and shares her experiences here.

Griffiths Middle School in Downey, CA.

I had the privilege of visiting one of the many middle schools in California implementing Listenwise across the school. I wanted to share the inventive, inspiring and successful ways I saw teachers at Griffiths Middle School in Downey, CA using Listenwise. 

My first stop was in Ms. Jessica Worthy’s 7th-grade exploratory robotics class. At first, I was surprised to hear that Listenwise was being used in her Automation and Robotics class. While Listenwise has a robust collection of stories about technology’s impact on society, we do not have many lessons aligned with engineering standards. But Ms. Worthy knew she wanted to get her students thinking about the pros and cons of technology. She chose the debate story “Should Drones Be Used to Deliver Packages?” to stir discussion about the benefits and drawbacks of new technology, some of them unforeseen. She wanted students to learn about a real-life example. She played the story twice to ensure access for all students across a range of abilities. For the first listen, she told students to just enjoy the audio story. For the second listen, she asked them to be more intentional with their listening by logging into Listenwise and answering the assigned listening comprehension and discussion questions on the platform.  

After students had worked independently,  she reviewed each question with the class, sparking a discussion with students about each one. When she asked the question, What does the technology expert mean when he says drones are opening up “a third dimension”? one student responded that the third dimension is above ground, and another said it means more futuristic technology. This sparked a discussion about how this new technology will impact jobs. Ms. Worthy praised students’ thinking and said the class was “thinking creatively to solve problems, just like engineers.”  The students were required to submit their written answers for later credit. Watch here!

Mr. Tyson Bohlinger, 8th grade American literature teacher.

In Mr. Tyson Bohlinger’s 8th grade American literature class, students were listening to the Listenwise story, “Middle Passage.” Students used headphones to listen to the 5-minute story about the perspective of the book’s author, a freed black man who unknowingly boards a slave ship. Mr. Bohlinger allowed students to see the transcript while listening and assigned them listening comprehension questions on the online platform. 

Mr. Bohlinger shared some CAASPP interim assessment results on listening that were very impressive. In one of his classes, the percentage of students who scored Above Standard in listening jumped 24% over the last year, with 44% performing Above Standard. He called the results “phenomenal” and told me the only thing he’s doing differently is using Listenwise on a regular basis. He noted that the interim test had just as many questions for listening as it did for reading, so he feels if he does not teach listening, he is leaving a major gap in instruction. 

My last stop was in Ms. Charmetra Chatmon’s 8th-grade class. She likes to use Listenwise as a way to help students practice listening for the SBAC/CAASPP. One of the ways she uses it involves assigning students a topic to work on independently with headphones, including taking the Listenwise quiz. At other times, they listen as a class, take notes, and discuss it together. Often she will print out the transcript and ask students to annotate as they listen because, she says “Listenwise is multifaceted and a great way to teach them about annotating and listening.”

On the day of my visit, the whole class listened to the audio story “New Cosmic Crisp Apple.” The first question she asked her students: How many of you like apples? It was a great introduction to playing a 2 1/2 – minute story with sounds of biting into a juicy crisp apple. She instructed students to write down points they thought were interesting. She did not show the transcript; it was purely a listening activity. The students obviously enjoyed it and talked animatedly about what kinds of apples they like to eat. One student proclaimed “Now I want an apple.” 

On the second listen, she directed students’ attention to understanding what a horticulturalist does from the context of the story. Following the second listen, students opened their computers and took the online multiple-choice listening quiz. They were allowed to use their notes but could not listen to the story again. Because Listenwise quizzes give students and the teacher immediate feedback, Ms. Chapman asked her class what they thought the class average was on the quiz. When she revealed that the class average on the quiz was 58%, she asked them what they could do to improve their scores. “We need more listening practice!” said the students. Watch here!

I’m proud and happy that Listenwise will be there to help Griffiths middle school students practice and improve their listening skills.  

Thank you to Vanessa Bedolla, Vice Principal of Griffiths for setting up the observations and welcoming me so warmly. And thank you to Rani Maline-Bertsch, the Director of Secondary at Downey USD, for joining me at Griffiths for part of the observation.

In 1619, the first enslaved people arrived in what is now the United States of America. The significance of that date in U.S. history has not traditionally been addressed in American classrooms. Journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones has made it her mission to change that through The 1619 Project. 

The New York Times Magazine’s 1619 Project is the brainchild of Hannah-Jones and “aims to reframe the country’s history by placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of black Americans at the very center of our national narrative.” 

The magazine offers a collection of essays (downloadable here as a PDF) on a range of relevant topics framed by that aim. Teachers and students may be interested, for example, in an essay about how slavery is taught in American schools, which pairs well with Listenwise’s audio story about American students’ understanding of slavery. Also from the NYT, “What You Should Know About the Year 1619” provides a collection of important facts about slavery that will likely be unfamiliar to most students.  

Listenwise recently featured an audio story about the 1619 Project, which includes an interview with Hannah-Jones by Joshua Johnson of WAMU’s 1A. A recent Listenwise debate story about whether Congress should consider reparations for slavery, another story about the 2019 Harriet Tubman film, and another story about a reenactment of a slave revolt are also highly relevant to the issues raised by the project. 

The multi-episode NYT 1619 podcast hosted by Nikole Hannah-Jones offers an in-depth look at the legacy of slavery in America and how it impacts American society today. Episodes focus on the significance of the year 1619 in American history and the impact of slavery on American institutions such as popular music, health care, and banking. This compelling, enlightening, innovative series was named best podcast of 2019 by Time magazine.    

The 1619 Project Curriculum from the Pulitzer Center offers a wide selection of instructional materials to accompany the 1619 Project resources, including a glossary, reading guides for each essay, and lesson plans focused on 1619 Project themes and resources, such as “Exploring the Idea of America” by Hannah-Jones.

Teaching Tolerance published a report indicating significant gaps in U.S. students’ understanding of slavery, summarized in an Atlantic article called “What Kids are Really Learning About Slavery.” As an outcome of their research, Teaching Tolerance developed a Framework for Teaching Slavery for grades K-5 and 6-12, intended to support teachers in addressing “hard history.” This framework offers suggestions for teaching emotionally charged topics in developmentally appropriate ways, which is often of particular interest to elementary teachers. Together with the 1619 Project materials, these resources provide useful guidance to teachers interested in helping students at all levels understand the complex legacy of slavery and how it impacts their lives and those of other Americans today. 

For additional classroom resources to support teaching during Black History Month and all year long, see our updated blog post “Stories of Black History.” 

Please let us know in the comments how you have used these teaching resources or any others related to these themes and topics. 

We are excited to be an inaugural partner with Metametrics to implement the new Lexile Framework for Listening that was released today at the LearnLaunch Across Boundaries Conference in Boston, MA.

We joined MetaMetrics® on stage to unveil the Lexile Framework® for Listening, leveraging the power of the Lexile® scale to develop better listeners and readers. The Lexile Framework for Listening measures both the listening ability level of students and audio complexity of resources so students can be matched to ability-appropriate audio materials. 

Many teachers have asked us “how do I measure my students’ listening comprehension?” and “how do I choose the right stories for my students?”  Over the last few years we began to address this need with the development of our listening comprehension quizzes and the creation of our Language Challenge levels.  But we have always believed that listening instruction would be much more widely embraced with an externally validated measure of listening comprehension that teachers could use the same way they have used Lexile levels for reading.  

“Finding the right level audio for your students is essential. It’s like finding the right shoe or glove that fits,” said Jim Bentley, a 5th grade educator in Elk Grove District in California.  

He added “These new Lexile listening measures will make it easy for me to find the right fit to challenge my students to listen to more complex topics and content in order to stretch their comprehension levels.”

We are so excited to be the first to feature the new Lexile Audio Measures on Listenwise because it will enable teachers to make better choices about the right level of audio stories to challenge their students. It makes Listenwise the leader in listening solutions and will show how listening is a key missing piece of the literacy puzzle.  

This exciting new listening framework is a significant advancement in literacy instruction. Metametric’s third-party validated scale will immediately give teachers the ability to better track students’ listening skills and eventually to be able to compare their listening and reading abilities. We really like this quote from Metametrics’ CPO…

“Research shows that better listeners are better readers. With today’s launch of the Lexile Framework for Listening, our scientific, objective scale will provide teachers, parents and states with a true picture of a student’s literacy by measuring reading and listening together,” said Alistair Van Moere, Ph.D., MetaMetrics’ chief product officer. “It is exciting to have Listenwise, a pioneer in harnessing the power of listening to advance student literacy and learning, as our first partner to link the framework to its audio resources.”

You can read more about the new Lexile Framework for Listening on their press release and download the new whitepaper.

Listenwise will be the first company to implement the framework by displaying Lexile Audio Measures for all of it’s 1500+ podcasts. These measures will help teachers select the right audio for their students, as they can often listen to content at a higher level than they can read. Watch for Lexile Audio Measures to appear in Listewise in the coming weeks. Even better, sign up to be notified as soon as the Lexile Audio Measures are live on Listenwise! 

We know many teachers are enthusiastic to learn more about the new Lexile Framework for Listening. We’ll be making the Lexile Audio Measures available shortly and sharing more details about our plans for the student measures, so stay tuned!!

We are excited to officially launch podcast lessons for elementary students! (Read the press release!) We’ve heard loud and clear the desire for audio in the elementary classroom as students are learning to read. These simpler stories will also help English language learners, as low as WIDA level 2, who use Listenwise to acquire language and access instructional content.

Why use podcasts with elementary students?

Listenwise has proven effectiveness in middle and high school, and now educators can find high-quality nonfiction audio content for lower grades. Podcasts offer engaging resources for teaching and assessing listening and speaking skills, and they can also help teachers and students address reading and writing standards. In addition to supporting literacy, podcasts offer students an appealing alternative medium for learning important curriculum content, especially helpful when teaching in diverse classrooms. 

Jim Bentley, 5th grade teacher in California shared, in our recent webinar, how he uses podcasts to build listening skills in his classroom:

What makes a great podcast for elementary classrooms?

We’ve taken  Listenwise’s success formula and applied it to carefully selected podcasts for our younger students. As always, we have curated stories that will grab students’ attention but use less complex language and vocabulary. In addition to using high-interest content from NPR, we have sourced stories from respected podcasts focused on a younger audience, including But Why, Earth Rangers, Tumble, and Book Club for Kids. The authenticity of these real-world stories has shown to be a big motivator for kids and can bring related curriculum topics to life!

Our short student-friendly podcasts differ from audiobooks because they are originally composed expressly for the purpose of listening and contain real-world interviews, ambient sound, and other elements that capitalize on the power of oral communication.

Check out our beta collection of elementary podcast lessons for grades 2-6. Here are some of our favorites focused on a variety of relevant curriculum topics: 

We are also injecting an extra bit of fun for our younger learners by introducing short “strange news” stories with a focus on understanding vocabulary in context. These 30-second stories with highlighted vocabulary can work well as quick “do now” or “bell ringer” activities. Examples include “Penny Pyramid” and “Dog for Governor.”

We will be continuing to build out our collection for elementary students each week, including some current events, and plan to have a large collection ready by the fall.

What is in the elementary lessons?

Our elementary lessons feature the same elements as the rest of our Listenwise lessons, written at the appropriate level for elementary students. 

  • Listening comprehension and discussion questions
  • Vocabulary lists
  • Interactive transcripts
  • Auto-scored listening comprehension quizzes
  • Teacher’s guide with instructional activities before, during, and after listening and additional vetted materials, such as paired texts
  • Graphic organizers to focus listening
  • And more!

Elementary lessons have been designed for optimal flexibility in classrooms with any computer configuration, from one-computer classrooms to one-to-one classrooms. They can be used with the whole class at once, in a station-rotation model, or with students working independently on their own computers. Materials such as listening organizers are designed to be either printed or used online. Lessons and quizzes can be assigned through Google Classroom, and quiz data can be tracked through a data dashboard. 

To learn how one teacher uses podcast lessons in her elementary classroom, read our December blog post post featuring 4th grade teacher, Gretchen Hummon.

Try the lessons with your students!

Now it’s time to explore the beta collection of elementary lessons and current events!

If you are interested in starting a school site pilot subscription to our beta collection, fill out this form.

Happy Listening!

This article was originally published in Edsurge November 5, 2019.

Now Trending: K-12 Podcasting

I have always believed in the power of audio. For decades as an NPR reporter, I created captivating audio stories. But it’s only been in the past few years that the rest of the world has caught up to my love of a good audio story, told by the people affected, and surrounded by sound effects and music that set the scene and mood. It’s called podcasting. And it’s experiencing a surge of interest, especially in K-12 classrooms.

I have always believed in the power of audio.

As the CEO of Listenwise, a listening skill-building company, and the host of the Student Podcast PODCAST, I am seeing the podcasting landscape in education explode. We are on the forefront of an exciting time when audio can bring the world into the classroom, and students can use audio to share what they know with the world. Thousands of classrooms across grade levels, demographics and locations are podcasting. Over six thousand classes submitted podcast entries to the 2018 NPR Student Podcast Challenge.

This upswell really began around the launch of the popular podcast Serial in 2015. TeachersPayTeachers.com, an online marketplace for lesson plans, reported that their annual downloads of lessons based on podcasts increased 650 percent that year. Teacher Michael Godsey, an early adopter of teaching with podcasts, authored many of those lessons.

I’ve continued to see a rising number of conference sessions on podcasting in the classroom. At this year’s ISTE conference, there were 23 sessions about podcasting held over three days.

This trend makes sense; the human voice is captivating. Hearing directly from someone who experienced an event is meaningful. Audio allows us to create movies in our minds, and this is highly engaging for students. It allows them to connect at a deeper level to the content they are learning.

Creating Podcasts in the Classroom

The process of creating podcasts addresses many important 21st-century skills and competencies, including communication, critical thinking, creativity and collaboration. Podcasting can also address Common Core State Standards, including key speaking and listening skills. Educators have discovered that listening to podcasts can promote deeper learning for students using a modality that has not been traditionally featured in the classroom.

Students are drawn to expressing themselves through podcasting. Not only can they emulate real journalists and famous podcasters, they can design their own learning experiences by actively exploring real-world issues and problems, developing ideas and theories, and pursuing answers and solutions. Recording and sharing what they learn validates their knowledge and empowers them.

Listening to Mentor Podcasts

Listening skills are increasingly important to success in college and careers.

To set rigorous expectations before beginning your classroom podcasting projects, I recommend having your students listen to high-quality mentor audio stories. Listenwise provides free access to a collection of more than 1900 audio stories from NPR curated for classroom use, featuring relevant topics that align with curriculum in English language arts, social studies and science. These examples showcase the sounds of professional podcasts and present models for students to emulate. Public radio podcasts also offer students a new and exciting vehicle for learning important content.

After sharing great audio stories with students, you should select a purpose for the podcasts that aligns with your curriculum. Will students create podcasts that inform, persuade, analyze, reflect, tell a story, or some combination? Once you have defined a task and product, you can select the appropriate production format for your students’ podcasts. Will podcasts be commentary by a single speaker? Will they be interviews or conversations? Will they be investigative reports involving multiple perspectives on an issue or topic?

A variety of project lesson ideas can be found on the Student Podcast PODCAST.

Podcasting and Literacy

Not only can listening to mentor texts support podcast creation, it can build important literacy skills.

Currently, 22 states test listening on their annual English Language Arts assessments. Listening is also assessed on the WIDA ACCESS test, as well as other state English language tests, as it is a key aspect of learning a new language. California includes listening comprehension on the CAASPP and the ELPAC, and many schools we work with note that listening is a skill that still demands a heavy instructional focus in the classroom. Just 43 percent of 8th and 11th graders met listening standards last year across California.

The shift toward teaching and assessing listening makes sense because it is in line with the research on listening and learning—better listeners are better learners. Teaching and learning with podcasts can help to improve listening skills.

Listening skills are increasingly important to success in college and careers. A 2017 survey of 1,000 employers indicated that listening is the 2nd highest skill employers want from new hires. All of this means that more schools and districts are looking for tools to support development of their students’ listening comprehension skills.

We live in a time when digital content—in the form of text, video and audio—is widely available, and podcasting can be done with ubiquitous tools—smartphones and computers. This makes it an exciting time to try something that is new and trending with your students.

Teach with listening. Engage with listening. Create with listening.

Blog Updated January 30, 2020.

We are excited to share that in January 2020, the Lexile Framework® for Listening will be launching and each Listenwise Premium audio story will have a Lexile Audio Measure indicating its challenge level. 

Just like the Lexile Framework for Reading, the Lexile Framework for Listening uses a scientific approach to place both the listener and audio text complexity on the same developmental scale, making it easy to connect students with audio content targeted to their listening comprehension levels.

Soon all of our Listenwise podcast lessons will include Lexile Audio Levels on each story to ensure that students can be connected with passages of appropriate complexity that target their listening comprehension skills.  

To learn more about the research behind the scale and get a sneak peek at the product plans for implementing Lexile listening audio and student measures in Listenwise Premium in 2020, watch this webinar recording:

Teachers will soon be able to further monitor progress towards career and college readiness using a universally accepted measure to predict listening comprehension and performance. The Lexile Listening Framework is underpinned by the same academic research and scientific rigor as the Lexile reading scale.

Knowing the connection between reading & listening comprehension and how they both support literacy, now with valid and reliable measures of both listening comprehension and reading comprehension, further research into the relationship between the two will be possible.  

The new listening measure has significant implications for teaching listening and supporting literacy in the classroom. Please share with your networks and reach out to us if you have questions: info@listenwise.com 

Stay tuned for 2020!

I founded Listenwise to inspire individuals to fulfill their potential through the power of listening. In the last 5 years, podcasting has really exploded but we’ve only begun to see its impact in the classroom. Over that time, we’ve learned so much and there is so much more to do.  

I’ve learned that we need to continue investing in Listenwise to provide a broad solution to help all learners and teachers. We need to add a full range of content to support younger students as well as students who are at earlier stages of their language acquisition. We also have recognized the difficulty of teaching listening comprehension without measures of listening complexity and performance. Now we are on the cusp of bringing Lexile measures for listening to Listenwise. However it is very difficult for us to make these types of investments while keeping Listenwise affordable for a wide range of schools. It is time for us to make some changes to our free product in order to ensure Listenwise can meet everyone’s needs. 

Beginning on March 1, 2020, “current events” will be the primary content in our free version. ELA, Social Studies, and Science podcasts and lessons will no longer be available without a paid Premium subscription. The free product still has a lot to be enthusiastic about… 

  • 1000+ current events with new ones added every school day, 
  • carefully chosen stories about important events in the world, 
  • really engaging content for listening practice, 
  • and our very popular debate Fridays. 

Plus features to make it easy to use in the classroom, such as listening comprehension questions and the ability to share the audio directly with students using Google classroom.

We have tried to give plenty of advance notice to all impacted users so they can plan accordingly. If you’ve been using our free product, please check your email for some special options available to you for access to the full Listenwise collection for the rest of this school year or contact us! 

More details on the content and features that will make up our free and paid products moving forward can be found on our plans chart.

We believe this is the right path forward to build a sustainable future for Listenwise and our community so we can continue developing high-quality lessons and features that support students building listening comprehension skills for years to come. We value our users and look forward to achieving the mission with you. 

Please feel free to send us your feedback about these changes or other comments/concerns at feedback@listenwise.com


Monica Brady-Myerov

Founder and CEO