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


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


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


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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Keep on WOWing,

Team Tinkercast

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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



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

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


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

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



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

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

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




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

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

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

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

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


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


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


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


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

You asked for product improvements, we listened!

Some of the most requested features for Listenwise Premium are related to how to have students submit their work. . We heard you loud and clear! We’ve just added new features to help ease your teacher workflow. Now you can let your students retake a quiz or allow students to revise their assignments, and more.


1- Retake a quiz.


Perhaps a student submitted before they were finished, or you just want to give them another chance to improve their score? Now you can reset a student’s quiz by clicking the reset icon next to each student’s name on the quiz report. It will remove the current score and re-assign the quiz to the student.

2- Let students revise assignment submissions.


Think a student’s submission could use some more attention and detail? Now you can return their assignment with your feedback requesting revisions. Just click the option to return for revisions when you provide feedback. It will return the work to the student’s assignment due list on their dashboard with instructions from you about what needs to be addressed. Then they can re-submit.

3- Remove an assignment from a class without deleting it.


It’s not always the students who make mistakes! 😉 Now you can pull an assignment back from a class, easy peasy. Select the assignment from your assignment library. At the top you see which classes it’s assigned to, and now you have a Remove button which will remove the assignment from that class.

Please keep sending us your feedback and feature requests online or email support@listenwise.com. We’re listening!

Many California educators are preparing for a new English learner assessment called the ELPAC, and wondering how it compares with the ELA portion of CAASPP. We looked at the listening strand samples and practice tests for grades 5-12. Despite the fact that both tests are assessing listening comprehension, they go about it in somewhat different ways. The two most significant differences between the assessments are the type of audio that is listened to and the listening procedures.

CAASPP listening passages are short informational texts that are read aloud by one speaker.  The passages are typically related to common grade-level curriculum topics. You can listen to a sample audio passage from CAASPP 5th grade (about 1½  minutes long) about asteroids and space.

In contrast, the ELPAC listening segments are conversations, more similar to spoken English that a student would encounter in the classroom. There are 4 different types of listening segments that range in length and complexity (see chart below). The ELPAC practice tests do not provide the audio files, only transcripts of the conversations.

The “oral presentation” type of question on the ELPAC is the most similar to the CAASPP, as it features a teacher talking about a curriculum topic. All the other ELPAC listening tasks feature 2 different speakers.

The other significant difference in the tests is in how the students listen. In the CAASPP, students can each listen to the streamed audio individually and replay the audio as desired, using an embedded notepad to take notes as they listen. However, ELPAC audio will be played only one time for a group of students being tested. The ELPAC instructions do encourage students to take notes on paper while listening to the longer segments which are similar in length to the CAASPP items.

With these differences between the exams, you might wonder if it is possible to prepare for both without double the effort. It definitely is!

Certainly having students practice listening to audio related to curriculum topics can help students prepare for both the CAASPP and the oral presentation and speaker opinion task types on the ELPAC. Also, audio dialogue that discusses opinions and points of view on a current topic are very useful, especially for ELPAC.

Using a solution like Listenwise, teachers can assess student listening comprehension (try a sample test to see the format of our listening comprehension assessments at this link) with formative quizzes or have students practice note-taking with organizers and short response questions. At the outset, students will benefit from supported access to challenging content, such as being able to read the transcript as they listen or look up unfamiliar words. However, teachers can hide the transcript when they want to more closely model the tests. For teachers with students taking the ELPAC, some practice should also be given with audio stories played once from the front of the classroom, not just students listening on their own.

This webinar excerpt shows how the CAASPP and Listenwise interfaces are similar, and how one CA teacher uses Listenwise to support student practice for these listening tests.

Try Listenwise Premium for free for 30 days!


We are excited to share favorite features and lesson ideas from a few of our Listenwise Advocates! These awesome educators are master teachers and Listenwise Advocates.  Read about their favorite Listenwise features and how they use Listenwise with their students. Learn more about this program and try out some of these ideas with your students.


Katie Booth

In my class, we listen to a podcast once all the way through and determine the general idea. Then, we use the graphic organizers provided and listen to the audio again, stopping occasionally to take notes. Each student shares what they heard. This gives us an opportunity to compare what information catches students’ attention. We compare those comments to the general idea of the audio (discussed early) to assess whether this information will support us in gaining a better understanding of the main idea.

After listening we look over the comprehension questions and determine what each question is asking, highlighting important details in the question. Then we go back to our notes to determine whether we took notes on that topic. I encourage the students to always provide evidence to support their reasoning. If they believe the answer is B then they must prove it and cite evidence from the recording to support their answer.
Favorite PREMIUM Feature: With Listenwise Premium I have the ability to track my students’ progress. I can get precise data, down to which skill they struggle with the most (i.e. vocabulary, main idea, inference, etc) in order to tailor my instruction to meet the needs of individual students.


Sebastian Byers

We have a 1:1 class, so once I get the classes set up in Listenwise, assigning and using the lessons is very easy and convenient. The lessons easily fit into my curriculum and Listenwise is used at strategic times. I assign stories to students and they listen and complete the questions and assignment. Any assignments are embedded or linked into my Canvas class page. As a group we discuss answers to the assignment and students choose one answer that they are most proud of and prepare to share that with the class. My students appreciate that I make science fun and fresh. I have happily converted many young persons to “podcast people”…their words.  @scienceteachme

Favorite PREMIUM Feature: Creating an assignment for a unit of study. I appreciate the resource library for search-ability, relevance, comprehensiveness, and as a nice addition to my lessons. My students find their assignments to be interesting and their tasks in the assignments are clear and easy to use.


Erik Eve

Over the course of the quarter (10 weeks),  my students choose and listen to 15 current events.  They do this at home and then on the last day of the quarter, we have a whole group discussion.  The students are given a prompt and they answer based on the Listenwise current events, also referencing other people and their opinions.

In the second discussion we have a “move around.” Students sit in the middle of the classroom, I pull up a Listenwise current event, and ask them a question based on the topic. If they agree they go to one corner and if they disagree they go to another corner. Students have to defend why they were there and provide support for their choice.  @mrevelindy

Favorite PREMIUM Feature: The current events allow my honor’s students to come into contact with information that they normally wouldn’t.


Andrew Garnett-Cook

When I’m teaching citizenship, we look at the 14th Amendment and discuss the process of naturalization. Then we discuss “What is one right citizens have that is generally not given to non-citizens?” The most important one is voting. We go to Listenwise to hear this audio:Debate: Should Non-Citizens Be Allowed to Vote in Local Elections?

Students use their own device (chromebook, laptop) to listen to the audio.

After listening to the story, we go over their responses to the questions. Then I have students stand up and place themselves on either end of the classroom, based on the degree to which they agree or disagree that non-citizens should be allowed to vote in the type of election described in the story. This leads to a longer discussion about the benefits of citizenship and why some people who live legally as residents of the United States might take the extra step of seeking citizenship.
Favorite PREMIUM Feature: The ability to create classes and assign stories in class or for home work is my favorite feature because it enables me to save stories to assign in successive years.

Mike Messner

I play Listenwise audio stories to the class and project the transcript on the screen. After the first listen, I instruct them to jot down answers to discussion questions in their devices or in an app while I project the comprehension and discussion questions. Students listen again and then turn to each other and discuss the questions. I call several students to give their responses to the rest of the class. At the end of class, students respond in writing to comprehension questions on a Google Form that I create.  @teachermike72

Favorite PREMIUM Feature: I like the Discussion Questions. They give students a target for their listening and provide a basis for the discussion that will ensue later. 


Rosemary Miketa

I give my students a topic, such as climate change, to help them understand cause and effect relationships. They discuss prompts that I give them, and then listen to the Listenwise audio and answer questions. They use the online dictionary feature if needed for new vocabulary. Then they watch a video, possibly from National Geographic, and reflect on the audio and video. I ask them to create a video reflection of what they learned on their phone, explaining some causes and effects of global warming. Students can then share their video responses in Flipgrid.


Favorite PREMIUM Feature: I like the Closed Captioning and interactive transcript highlights while students are listening.


To learn more about the Teacher Advocate Program and how you can apply, check out our Listenwise Teacher Advocate Program page!