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The Common Core State Standards (CCSS) call for several Key Shifts in Language Arts that have implications across the curriculum. Listenwise can help teachers of many subjects address these shifts.

Shift 1: Regular practice with complex texts and their academic language

Listenwise audio stories are engaging complex texts full of academic language. They are authentic texts sourced from public radio, typical of those that students may encounter in their adult lives, and they are selected for their potential to support teachers and students in making connections between the curriculum and the world outside of school. Students can listen to each audio text multiple times, with or without reading interactive transcripts simultaneously, in order to deepen their understanding. Listenwise audio stories offer all students access to complex texts, regardless of reading level, which, in turn, can help students improve their reading skills. Lessons include selected academic vocabulary words to highlight, as well as comprehension questions and embedded text tools, which can support students’ understanding of the texts and also expand their vocabulary. Academic vocabulary appears in context within all Listenwise stories, providing opportunities for students to practice strategies for learning new words. This week’s current events, for example, include the following words: aftermath, democracy, archive, predatory, and disparity.

Shift 2: Reading, writing, and speaking grounded in evidence from texts, both literary and informational

Listenwise stories are selected for their relevance and interest value, as well as their potential to promote critical thinking and analysis. Stories featured in lessons and current events can provide rich fodder for high-level classroom discussion and/or analytic writing tasks. Text-dependent listening comprehension and discussion questions associated with each story invite students to listen closely to complex audio texts and interpret, analyze, synthesize, evaluate, or apply information, supporting their ideas or claims with evidence from the text. Quizzes include questions that ask students to identify supporting evidence for a specific claim within a text, so teachers can assess those skills and use the data to inform instruction. Lessons noted as including extra supports for English language learners contain close listening protocols, which can help to scaffold such learning activities. This week’s current events, for instance, include the following text-dependent questions:

Shift 3: Building knowledge through content-rich nonfiction

Podcasts featured in Listenwise current events and lessons provide content-rich nonfiction stories on a wide range of topics that can help students build background knowledge, which is critical to both listening and reading comprehension. The Listenwise team curates public radio stories based on their educational value and potential for engaging students, so the current events and lessons in the Listenwise platform offer a dynamic collection of high interest, highly relevant, high quality content that can be used instructionally in many ways. These content-rich nonfiction stories are written by skilled professional writers for a large audience that reaches far beyond the classroom, so they expose students to mentor informational texts about a host of captivating issues. This week’s current events, for example, address a variety of topics, including the social impact of hurricanes, democratic participation, research on using microbes to fight infections, the value of ancient artifacts, and the civic engagement of sports figures.

Listenwise can help teachers address many Common Core standards across all four literacy strands: reading, writing, speaking, and listening. In addition, it can help to support teachers in attending to all of the “key shifts” in expectations embodied in the standards. If you are using Listenwise with your students in ways that help you address the CCSS key shifts, we would love to hear about it!

If you are using the free version of Listenwise, try the 30-day free trial of Premium (click on the button in your dashboard) so that you can try all of the extra lesson supports, additional vocabulary words, and listening quizzes.

Today is the International Day of Listening. What does that mean? It’s a day to increase awareness of the value of listening and provide resources to help people develop better listening skills and strategies. The main idea behind this day is that “Listening makes us better humans.”

We believe in the power of listening, and it seems that more and more people are believing in the power of listening as well. The numbers continue to show that more and more people are listening to stories and podcasts.

(See the whole infographic)


In order to increase awareness about listening, find great listening instruction resources on our teacher support center:


The theme for this year is “Listen—even when you disagree.” Here are some of our stories for you to explore:

Time to dive into the International Day Of Listening!

This fall as you are trying to implement new things in your classroom, try crowdfunding on DonorsChoose to raise the funds for Listenwise Premium. Connect to a thriving community of donors who are eager to fund your classroom projects.


What is Donors Choose?

Donors Choose is a platform that connects classroom teachers with anyone who wants to help a classroom in need. Bring learning opportunities to life by posting a project; request books, technology, field trips—anything you’ve been dreaming of for your students. Then tap into the DonorsChoose network and reach out to your own. (Over 75% of teachers reach their funding goal).


How does Donors Choose support my Listenwise subscription?

You know what your classroom needs. DonorsChoose wants to help you get it.

  1. Sign up for a Donors Choose Account.
  2. Describe your class and create a project
  3. Spread the word and raise funds – tweet at us @listenwiselearn and we’ll share it!
  4. Receive access to Listenwise Premium once funds are raised! **Big donors will pay off all projects listed on DonorsChoose once in a while**

Here is a “how-to” guide we made to help you set up your DonorsChoose project with Listenwise.

If you create a DonorsChoose project, be sure to let us know so we can help spread the word!

Today’s guest post is written by Listenwise Teacher Advocate, Andrew Garnett-Cook. Andrew is a 7th and 8th grade social studies teacher in the Brookline Public Schools in Massachusetts. He teaches Ancient Mediterranean Civilizations and U.S. History. You can read his other Listenwise blog about teaching history with current events here.


As a veteran history teacher, one of my goals is for students to understand that what they read in a textbook is not, and should not be seen as, the definitive and final word on any historical topic or event.  Especially when learning about the ancient world, what I try to emphasize is the uncertainty about what is known about whatever civilization we are studying. After all, what we know is based to a considerable degree on what has survived from a civilization and how experts in diverse fields ranging from geology to climatology to archaeology interpret that evidence.  In fact, new discoveries often both answer and raise new questions about the past, encouraging us to reexamine what we thought had been settled history. For me, this is what makes learning about the past both challenging and exciting. This should be a mission of any history teacher: To teach about the past in a way that reinforces the fact there is always something new to learn.  


This is a big reason why Listenwise is such a valuable tool.  Curated stories on Listenwise include several examples of stories having to do with new theories and discoveries that have fundamentally shifted our thinking about the past.  One example of such a story, titled “Climate Change and Human Migration”, is a story about how climate science has contributed to our understanding of when early humans left Africa and why.  We listened to this story during our unit on early humans. My goal was for students to understand and be able to explain why early humans would have left Africa 100,000 years ago and begun migrating to other parts of the world. Bringing in new research, this story explains the new thinking, which is that climate change substantially contributed to why early humans left Africa.  Through this story, students get to explore more deeply how different disciplines contribute to our understanding of the past. The story also allows for students, through close listening, to judge the claims and evidence presented to support them.


Another story on Listenwise that helps students explore new research is the story titled “A New Human-like Species.”  This story is about the classification of a new species of human ancestor called Homo Naledi.  We also used this story during our unit on early humans. We were learning about “human time” and how early humans are believed to have evolved, starting with australopithecines and going through to homo sapiens.  Through this story, students explore how our understanding of human evolution can change based on new information.


While kids could have done these stories for homework, we listened to both of these stories in class. Kids listened, answered discussion questions, and we talked about them both in small groups and as a whole class.  Finally, I had students do some reflective writing on how these stories added to their understanding of the past. Both of these stories provide a rich opportunity for my students to dive into new research into the past and explore how people go about the process of interpreting evidence from the past, and how new information can both answer and raise new questions about the past.  Our understanding of the past is not settled. New research is being done all the time into the past and the results of that work can force us to shift our thinking about history. Listenwise provides valuable resources for sparking student exploration of new research, engaging them in rich discussions and shaping new understandings of the past.

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


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



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




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

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

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

This blog post was updated from August 2017.

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

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


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


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

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

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


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


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

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


Review our blogs about:


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


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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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

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


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


Listen to this series promo:

What inspired the podcast?

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


Stay tuned for upcoming episodes:

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


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


Happy Listening!

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

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

Step 1: Click Import Classes from Google Classroom

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

Step 2: Select Classes to Import

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

Step 3: Students “Login with Google”

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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