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This blog was updated from August 2018.

While COVID-19 and the transition to remote & hybrid learning has been overwhelming for many, Listenwise has been busy making updates and creating resources to help you teach listening regardless of your students’ learning environment.

Here’s a checklist to help you get ready to use Listenwise Premium with students in the new school year: 

  1. Delete Old Classes & Create New Classes
  2. Enroll Students
  3. Explore New Content
  4. Assign Listenwise Podcasts
  5. Discover our Remote Learning Resources

1. Delete Old Classes & Create New Classes:

Prep for the new year by deleting last year’s classes and setting up your account for the new year.

To Delete Old Classes: From the Classes tab, click on the class name you want to remove, and click the red “Delete Class” at the bottom of the page. 

To Create New Classes:  From the Classes tab, you can either import your Google Classroom Rosters or manually create new classes by clicking the button in the top right corner. This video tutorial walks you through both options. Google Classroom teachers! Check out the Listenwise + Google Classroom Guide for detailed instructions on all of our integration from single sign-on to assignment sharing.

2. Enroll Students

We know it can be hard to share new tools with students during remote learning, so we’ve created a few resources to help onboard students.

If you use Google Classroom, check out the Google Classroom Student Quick Start Guide, Student Intro Video and Parent Guide for Listenwise & Google Classroom (which can be easily translated!) that shows the experience for students with Listenwise and Google Classroom.

If you don’t use Google Classroom, we’ve created a Quick Start Guide for Students Using a Class Code, Student Intro Video, and Parent Guide for Listenwise Using Class Codes (which can be easily translated) for you.

3. Explore New Content

We now have over 2,000 podcasts and over 400 quizzes on Listenwise!

We’ve added new podcasts across all subjects and levels, and here are some of the highlights:

Elementary Lessons: Standards-aligned and curated for grades 2-5, these stories are sure to engage students while remote. Read more about using podcasts for elementary instruction on our blog. 

Weird News: These are quick and quirky stories featuring  vocabulary words (perfect for English learners!). A new 30-second story is posted every Sunday. 

Social Emotional Learning (SEL) Collection: This newly curated collection of stories is great for kicking off the school year by attending to students’ social and emotional learning. Discussing these stories can help students get to know each other and establish a positive classroom culture, even if the classroom is virtual. 

Teaching Race and Racism: We have curated resources and current event and lesson collections to help you engage students in meaningful discussions about race and racism. 

Remember that you can use the new Lexile Audio Measure to find the right level podcast for your students. We also provide starter grade level recommendations – just click the ? icon by the Lexile filter on the search page or the Lexile Level icon on any podcast. 

4. Assign Listenwise Podcasts

Once you find the right story for your students, it’s easier than ever to assign work to students. Click “Create Assignment” on any story and follow the steps. Here are the changes we made for both written assignments and quizzes on the final step of the final assigning process:
– Assign to multiple classes at once
– Schedule assignment availability
– Assign with specific time due in local time zones 
– Share assignments to Google Classroom more conveniently

The video below demonstrates the new written assignment workflow. For more details on each update, check out our blog post on our new 2020 product updates.

5. Discover our Remote Learning Resources

Listenwise has created a collection of resources to help you teach Listening during remote learning. This collection includes Adapting to Hybrid Learning Using Listenwise and Fun, Engaging Podcasts to Hook Students into Remote Learning.

We are also hosting a number of webinars focused on remote learning for back-to-school. Sign up for a session via the below links or learn more about them on the webinars page.

August 13 at 7 pm EST – Equitable Remote Learning Strategies for ELs Using Listenwise

August 19 at 3:30 pm EST – Equitable Learning with Your English Learners Using Newsela & Listenwise

August 20 at 3 pm EST – Equitable Remote Learning Best Practices with Listenwise

August 27 at 3 pm EST – Explore Podcasts for Elementary Students in Remote Learning

September 10 at 3 pm EST – NEW Listenwise Features for Remote Learning this Fall

In early June, we wrote a blog post in response to George Floyd’s death and police violence towards Black Americans (ie: George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade, etc). As we head towards a new school year, we want to support educators in creating intentional spaces for students and community members to engage more meaningfully in discussions about race and racism. 

Why is it important to more openly discuss race? Data shows that the majority of students in public schools are non-white, and teacher diversity remains stagnant. Of the 3.3 million teachers in the U.S. public school system in 2011, 84% were white. This means that many students and teachers are having different lived experiences because of their race. 

If we do not acknowledge racism with students, we essentially choose to ignore the pervasiveness of racist systems and ideologies. This denies the lived experiences of students of color, and implicitly suggests that their identities are taboo subjects that are not allowed to be discussed. A critical first step in creating an antiracist classroom – and an antiracist society writ large – is being willing to grapple with these topics constructively. 

Developing racial awareness within ourselves as educators and among our students can help us consider how our curriculum and pedagogy might promote a more equitable society and build stronger relationships between educators and students.

“The notion of care is the root of racial proficiency. I want to know who you are. You’re not fully caring for kids if you don’t know them. So race is something that we talk about. Culture is something that we talk about. Understanding that difference is an amazing, powerful plus that, if we nurture it, makes us all smarter than we can be separately.” – Melinda Anderson, When Educators Understand Race and Racism, Teaching Tolerance

Not only can educators use printed texts, but speeches, music, podcasts, and interviews can be highly engaging, accessible components of your lessons. Audio can humanize stories, encourage students to engage emotionally, and help to build empathy by celebrating many voices, languages, and cultures. Read more about the use of audio and find relevant examples in this Edutopia article: Using Sound Texts in Antiracist Teaching

Using high quality resources from Teaching Tolerance and The National Museum of African American History and Culture, we have curated a set of resources to help with raising racial consciousness among teachers and students.

Race, Culture, & Racial Identity 

In order to talk about race, we need to understand the history of race and the differences between race and culture. The National Museum of African American History and Culture is a wonderful resource for definitions and teaching ideas. 

Teachers can explore with students how race is a social construct. 

  • What does that mean?
  • How does race shape your identity and your lived experience?

Listenwise offers stories that can spark discussions, and students can share their own personal experiences:

ASCD offers helpful resources for structuring conversations on race.

Bias (Examining Implicit & Explicit Bias) 

“Bias, (as defined by the National Museum of African American History and Culture), is a preference in favor of – or against – a person, group of people, or thing. These initial human reactions, which are often unconscious, are rooted in inaccurate information or reason and are potentially harmful.” 

It’s important to understand racial misconceptions, falsehoods, stereotypes, and unexamined biases. These questions from us and NMAAHC offer a helpful guide:

  • What are some of your own biases – positive or negative – that you are aware of?
  • How might our biases towards others affect how we shape our own lives?
  • How can students become aware of their implicit biases?

These Listenwise podcasts can also help teachers and students investigate such questions:

Systems of Oppression (Exploring Power) 

According to the National Museum of African American History and Culture, oppression is “a combination of prejudice and institutional power that creates a system of discrimination against some groups, while benefiting other groups.” Systemic racism is a prominent example of a system of oppression, as there are numerous policies and institutions that reinforce discrimination towards people of color. A good place to start is to define and understand individual, interpersonal, institutional and systemic racism.

In order to understand more about contemporary issues related to systemic racism, we must understand the historical context and the intersectionality of various systems of oppression.  (You might invite students to explore what intersectionality is.) Understanding history, oppression, and racism can provide important context for discussing today’s current events. 

Here are some questions to consider in exploring these ideas: 

  • What are some examples of the powers and the privileges that systems of oppression  (i.e., systemic racism) grant to certain groups? 
  • How can those with power and privilege help to dismantle systems of oppression? 

These Listenwise stories can provide springboards for discussing systemic racism with students: 

Shaping an Anti-Racist Classroom 

In order to cultivate an equitable, antiracist society, it is critical that educators intentionally and actively confront racism in their classroom. As you review your curriculum, consider ways to weave in these important threads throughout the year, and ways to expand your curriculum where needed. Keep an eye out for future Listenwise current events to help you address these topics with your students. There are always more resources to explore and more topics to learn about in the ongoing work of being an antiracist educator.

“Being an antiracist educator – understanding racism and its roots, questioning our own privilege and biases, and slowly dismantling those systems and beliefs internally and in our schools – is a life-long process.” (The Urgent Need for Anti-Racist Education)

Look for an upcoming blog post on incorporating Listenwise podcasts into anti-racist curriculum.

Every summer teachers fear “summer learning loss,” but at no time in history has there been more reason to worry about the prospect of the typical loss on top of what is being called the “COVID slide.”  The concerns around reading are troubling. 

A reading forecast by The Brookings Institution, a nonprofit public policy organization, projects that because of the “COVID slide,” students could begin school in the fall with only 70% of the learning gains in reading from the prior year. 

What strategies can you use in the fall to bring students quickly back to baseline?

The Listening – Reading Link 

First, it’s good to understand the research establishing the link between listening and reading. Much of it is explored in our 2018 webinar with literacy expert Timothy Shanahan. He says that listening comprehension was found to explain unique variation in reading achievement at grades 1, 3, 5, and 7. A person’s ability to understand while listening has been found to explain differences in reading comprehension beyond what is explained by decoding. The correlations are most significant with young children.

But the causation has been more difficult to prove, due to the lack of a valid third party measure of listening. 

Now that’s changed with the new Lexile® Framework for Listening released in January 2020 by Metametrics, the creators of the Lexile® Framework for Reading. Listenwise is the first educational technology resource that includes Lexile Audio Measures. The measures place all of Listenwise’s 2000+ podcasts on a complexity scale based on factors such as speech pacing, vocabulary, and syntax. Metametrics created the Framework for Listening on the same scale as the Framework for Reading so that teachers can ultimately make comparisons that inform instruction. 

How Can Listening Help With Reading?

Dozens of studies have documented the importance of two key areas influencing reading level: vocabulary and background knowledge (Shanahan, 2018). Students with larger vocabularies can read and understand more complex texts. And students with background knowledge of a subject perform better on reading tests than those who encounter the subject for the first time, even if they are lower level readers (Recht & Leslie, 1988).  Exposing students to new vocabulary and new subjects through podcasts is thus a great way to boost literacy.

Research indicates that for many students, especially those still learning to read, listening to a passage results in better comprehension than reading the same passage. This makes listening an effective way to expose kids to complex concepts and new vocabulary. This is an especially important fact considering the “COVID slide” facing many students. 

Engagement is key.  That’s why teaching with engaging, high-quality audio stories is a good approach to building literacy skills.  Struggling readers and English learners can especially benefit from listening because it allows them to engage with higher level content and participate more actively in discussions than they otherwise might. 

Just as you would give a reading comprehension quiz to check for understanding, on the Listenwise platform, you can assign an auto-scored multiple-choice listening comprehension quiz. Students can demonstrate they can identify the main idea, make inferences, and understand vocabulary in the context of a story.  These are all important literacy skills that can be developed by listening to engaging podcasts, whether inside or outside the classroom.

Building Literacy in Hybrid/Distance Learning 

The Lexile Audio Measures can be very helpful in selecting the right level listening resources for your students during remote learning. Because you might not be able to be physically in front of your students, seeing how they are responding to listening passages, you can use the grade level recommendations guide provided on Listenwise to select stories.

All of the podcasts on Listenwise have transcripts that highlight the words as they are being authentically spoken, a research-based approach to improving reading. Reading and listening together, as facilitated by these  interactive transcripts, can further increase comprehension and improve skills in both domains. By using the transcripts, you can encourage students at home to read and listen, thereby strengthening their literacy overall. 

COVID-19 School Closures May Result in Significant Learning Loss

With this year’s school closures related to the COVID-19 pandemic, the typical “summer slide” is likely to be more drastic than usual. Our blog post on fighting summer learning loss, notes that providing engaging summer learning resources to support ongoing literacy skill development among low-income students can be especially helpful. This year, the gaps are expected to be more stark. See below for more information about those gaps and the need to address them. 

Image from Pikist

Given the strong link between listening and reading comprehension, listening to Listenwise stories over the summer can help students to maintain and develop literacy skills. Lexile audio measures on every story can help teachers and students find stories at an appropriate level. Students who have an account can search for stories that interest them. Students with limited access at home can subscribe to our podcast, Listenwise News Bites, which features several current audio stories each week. See below for a selection of stories that would make great listening choices for summer 2020. 

Summer Listening 2020

This year we have compiled summer listening ideas, which include a variety of topical and thematic lists of stories that we have published on our blog. These stories can entertain and educate, and many can potentially help to foster reflection and cultivate constructive conversations during this eventful summer as American history continues to unfold on a daily basis. 

Stories of Black History

This list includes stories about the black experience in the United States, both historical and contemporary. Current headlines are filled with the Black Lives Matter movement that is striving to address the many injustices facing African Americans today. Recent stories about George Floyd, police reform, and systemic racism can provide good starting points for reflection and discussion. 

Stories of Asian Pacific American History

This list includes stories that highlight Asian American experiences and heritage. Two sample stories that offer important perspectives on Asian American culture and history are Immigrant Entrepreneurs and Entering the U.S. During the Chinese Exclusion Act. A story about Asian Americans in Film offers provocation for discussion about stereotypes in popular culture.  

Stories of Latinx and Hispanic History

This list includes stories about the experiences and heritage of Latinx people living in the United States. Stories such as Themes of Belonging: Sandra Cisneros and California Teen Lives Between Borders raise issues of identity, community, and culture. A story on the Impact of Anti-Immigrant Rhetoric on Hispanic Kids offers a great opportunity to deepen understanding of the impact of prejudice faced by many kids in American schools. 

Stories of Native American History

This list includes stories about the experiences of Native Americans in the United States. Stories like Resisting the Trail of Tears and Wounded Knee and Sioux Native Americans reflect the history of oppression and violence against Native Americans. Other stories such as Native American Veterans Memorial highlight important contributions of Native Americans to U.S. history and culture. 

Stories of LGBTQIA+ History  

Following Pride month, these stories about the experiences and history of LGBTQIA+ people in the U.S. are especially timely. Supreme Court Decision Protects LGBTQ workers reflects the ongoing struggles that LGBTQIA+ people have faced throughout history, as well as the progress that has been made. A story about adding singular “they” to the dictionary discusses how language and culture change over time.  

Stories of Women’s History

This list of stories focuses on the history of women and their struggle for equal rights in the United States. Stories such as Michelle Obama on Becoming and The Lasting Legacy of Little Women reflect both the timeliness and the timelessness of issues related to women’s roles in society.

Stories to Promote Social and Emotional Learning

This list contains stories about supporting and promoting social and emotional learning, including self-awareness and social awareness. For example, a story about how animals display emotions and another about college students collaborating on an invention can prompt useful reflection and discussion that builds social and emotional understanding. 

Fun, Engaging Podcasts to Hook Students into Remote Learning

This list offers some fun, light stories that are sure to keep students engaged throughout the summer and beyond. Stories like How New Emojis Are Created and Struck By Lighting and Reconnecting can hook students in, offer emotional appeal, and broaden their knowledge all at the same time. 

Staff Picks 

This list includes a diverse selection of stories that Listenwise staff recommend. Some favorites include Squirrels Are Listening, Supreme Court Women, and Moon Landing Anniversary

Information about Learning Loss Related to COVID-19 Closures

If you have favorite Listenwise stories to share, please note them in the comments. 

Happy summer listening! 

Suddenly switching over to remote learning was hard. And while there’s no sign of remote learning going away, there are definitely ways we can make it easier! 

As teachers moved into remote instruction, they became more dependent on using Listenwise platform features for managing assignments and had some great ideas for improvements. So we’ve made a number of updates to our assignment processes that will make it easier and faster for all teachers and give them more control. Most of these new features apply to both written assignments and quizzes.

  1. Assign to multiple classes at once
  2. Schedule assignment availability
  3. Assign with specific time due in local time zones 
  4. Share assignments to Google Classroom more conveniently

Here’s a few more details about each of them…

1 – Assign to multiple classes at once

This should speed up the assignment process for teachers using a common assignment across multiple classes. You can set the assignment details all on one page, and it’s totally fine to have different due dates for different classes or pick just a few students from one class but assign to all of another. 

2 – Schedule assignment availability

This feature request really popped to the top of the list when teachers started remote instruction. Now that students were online for school work outside of class time, teachers asked for more control about when students would get access to new assignments. We added a new “Date Available” option so teachers can set a date and time in advance if they don’t want students to get the assignment immediately.

3 – Assign with specific time due in local time zones 

Without kids in the classroom, it’s hard to say “submit your assignments now.”  So we’ve added an optional “Time Due” for all assignments and quizzes. Of course having a “time due” wouldn’t be so easy if it weren’t in your local time zone, so we’ll be setting up each Premium school with the appropriate local time zone. Local time zone will apply anywhere you see a time setting or submission time stamp. 

3 – Share assignments to Google Classroom more conveniently

We’ve made it more convenient to share written assignments to Google Classroom by providing that option right on the “Assign” page. If you’ve created your classes by importing a roster from Google Classroom, this option will be available automatically, similar to what you’ve experienced with assigning quizzes. If you don’t set up classes with Google Classroom, it will be hidden. 

Have other suggestions for remote learning features? Thoughts about these new feature updates? Please share in the comments below!

We continue as a company to reflect on how we can better support educators in teaching about social justice in their classrooms and including diverse perspectives all year long. For Listenwise stories that are relevant to the black experience in America, check out our blog posts on “Teaching about George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and Why Black Lives Matter” and “Stories of Black History.” Our goal is to continue to share high-quality stories from reliable sources and empower educators to fill in gaps in the curriculum and incorporate a multitude of perspectives and voices, including those of students. 

Picture Credit:
TJ Gehling

Today is June 19th, also known as Juneteenth. Though it has long been celebrated in African-American communities, it commemorates a history that has been marginalized and still remains largely unknown to the wider public. The day is also sometimes called “Juneteenth Independence Day,” “Freedom Day,” or “Emancipation Day.” On June 19, 1865, two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed, federal troops arrived in Galveston, Texas to take control of the state and ensure that all enslaved people were freed. Juneteenth commemorates that important event. A 2018 Vox article titled “Why celebrating Juneteenth is more important now than ever,” explains that the holiday represents “how freedom and justice in the US has always been delayed for Black people.”

On January 1, 1980, Juneteenth became an official state holiday in Texas through the efforts of Al Edwards, an African-American state legislator. The successful passage of this bill marked Juneteenth as the first emancipation celebration granted official state recognition. Edwards has since actively sought to spread the observance of Juneteenth all across America. A staff writer at The Atlantic eloquently captured the significance of the day: 

“I think it should be considered the truth of American independence. July 4 only represents when white men in this country were made free. If you think about the masses, Juneteenth represents the true fulfillment of what people believe to be that declaration, and what people believe to be freedom in this country.” – Vann Newkirk II via WBUR

To learn more about Juneteenth from a primary source, listen to an interview with Laura Smalley, a Texas woman born into slavery and freed when federal troops came to Galveston. Many people have tried to increase national recognition of Juneteenth. In 2017, 90-year-old Opal Lee walked around the country in order to raise awareness and urge the U.S. government to recognize Juneteenth as a holiday. 

Now, in the midst of protests and public conversation about police brutality and the recent deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, Ahmaud Arbery, and other African-Americans, there is renewed interest in commemorating this important day.

We encourage educators to learn more about this historic day and incorporate it into the curriculum. Culturally responsive teaching and inclusion of diverse perspectives and multicultural resources in the curriculum are important for all students, not just students of color. It is important to teach black history year-round, and not only the injustices, but also the resilience, the victories, and the many cultural and societal contributions of African Americans to the United States and the world. 

What do you think it will take to have everyone in the United States achieve the full recognition of the dignity of black people? This is a discussion question from our January 11, 2017 current event “Comparing Black Lives Matter to the Civil Rights Movement” that is still relevant today. 

As our country grapples yet again with the extrajudicial killing of a black man in police custody, parents and educators are feeling the need to help children process this moment. We aim to empower educators to create intentional space for students and community members to engage in meaningful dialogue. We at Listenwise stand in support of black lives and racial equity.

It is clear that we as a nation need to do more in our classrooms to talk constructively about race. We have compiled a list of age-appropriate news stories from Listenwise that examine America’s history of violence and oppression, racial bias, structural racism, and police brutality, as well as the rights of Americans to gather in protest. We hope that listening to these stories and those of students can support your school community’s efforts toward positive change. 

Here are some other high-quality resources that can help in addressing these issues with kids:

We invite educators to consider how to seize this teachable moment, ensure diverse representation within the curriculum, and help students think deeply about issues of race and racism all year long. You can explore a larger collection of Listenwise black history podcasts on our blog.

Last updated on 7/14/20

June is Pride Month, which is held each year to honor the June 1969 Stonewall Uprising in Manhattan, an event that kicked off the movement for gay rights in the United States. Pride Month was celebrated nationally for the first time in 1999 under President Bill Clinton. It is a time to celebrate the contributions of LGBTQIA+ individuals, bear witness to their history, and take action in fighting for liberation and equality. 

Queer history was cultivated through significant oppression and violence and has driven towards liberation by the work of countless activists and allies, some of whom lost their lives in the battle for civil rights. By listening to stories of LGBTQIA+ history, students may feel more connected to and accepting of their own identities, develop a deeper consciousness and understanding of shared histories, and feel empowered to serve as allies. 

Listenwise Stories: 

Other Resources: 

There’s no question that the coronavirus pandemic has changed all our lives and has affected students in many ways. As schools around the country have closed and students have been homebound and learning remotely in recent months, everyone has faced enormous shifts in their routines and social lives. Sometimes, however, we may not fully understand how the pandemic has impacted students until we ask them. 

One of our teacher advocates, Erik Eve, created a lesson using Listenwise current event stories focused on COVID-19 in a way that activated student choice and voice. His class of 8th graders from Lindenhurst Middle School in New York were directed to choose any podcast from the Listenwise podcast collection focused on COVID-19 and write personal reflections about the story’s relevance to their lives. You can read a sampling of these thoughtful and illuminating reflections below.

If you want to share these reflections with your students and invite them to write their own, you might also ask them to listen to this Listenwise story featuring students reflecting on their experiences during the pandemic. After reading and listening to student reflections from across the country, along with other Listenwise current events about the pandemic, your students might share their own reflections, thoughts, or feelings in whatever format they wish (e.g., Google Doc, Flipgrid video, audio podcast, video chat, online discussion forum, etc.). This can help students feel connected to each other and discover shared and/or new perspectives on how this strange time is affecting people’s lives.

Read student reflections from Erik Eve’s class:

Annika Bisogno listened to:
Coping Without a Job During the Pandemic – 4/30/2020

Now I know what a lot of people are thinking, students have it easy during the break (or Coronacation which is a mix of the words corona and vacation) but that is not the case. After listening to the audio story “Coping Without a Job during the Pandemic”, I learned about the things that adults have been thinking about and their concerns. But I am here to tell you what teenagers in middle school are thinking about. My name is Annika and I am an 8th grade honors student at Lindenhurst Middle school, and to tell you the truth, this “vacation” is really getting to me. At first I was like whoopy no school, but that feeling quickly dissipated and now i’ve never missed school more. The adults in the video pondered if people will ever gather again or why is my unemployment taking so long, but students today don’t have the time or the energy to be panicking about the future, because we are panicking about when our work is due and how overwhelmed we are. Each day we are assigned a plethora of work to complete and even if due dates are spread out it’s still agonizing. It’s all new to us and speaking from personal experience I have a hard time focusing on work at home. Remembering back to when we did have school, sports and clubs, I didn’t even do my homework at home but went to the library instead. However, looking more towards the optimistic side, because nobody likes a whiner, there are things that keep me calm and at peace with my studies and just over all being trapped in my house. Getting ready in the morning actually really soothes the feelings of stress. I even do my make up because it helps normalize things. I’ve picked up new hobbies and overall improved my mental health. Just because I am stressed doesn’t mean I can’t do the things I enjoy. It’s hard to make time for the things I enjoy but in the end I make it work. I think an important thing to remember is that everything will be alright in the end :).”

Julia Wlodkiewicz listened to:
States Lock Down To Protect Lives – 3/26/20

Around a month ago, New York State closed. The schools closed, the libraries, places of work, with only essential workers being able to work. As you definitely know, this is due to the coronavirus or COVID-19. This has changed my everyday life, as long as everyone else’s for a most likely, prolonged period of time. I can’t go to school, I must complete my schoolwork online. This whole situation is very stressful, especially since me and my whole class are supposed to go to high school next year. The regent exams have been cancelled, which was really a slap into reality for me. Some of my classes this year were solely preparing me for the regents. It was like I finally realized, “This isn’t temporary. It’s going to last for a while.” While this transition hasn’t been easy, I feel that it is more important to protect the lives of my community and those around me rather than risk having them fall ill or even die. I know many people feel isolated right now, I feel it too, but we have to stay strong right now. We have to protect each other now, so that we can be with each other later. I respect the governor’s choice in locking down the state, if that is what is going to stop the spreading of coronavirus.

Khrystyna Blyshchak listened to:

Avoiding Coronavirus – 5/5/20

I listened to the podcast “Avoiding Coronavirus.” It was published only 2 months ago, but it feels like it’s been forever. I listened to the podcast when it was first released, and now looking back, I wish more was done sooner. In this podcast, Steve Inskeep and Allison Aubrey talk about coronavirus testing and how it is very limited. Today, with the state that I’m from (New York) being the state with the most cases, testing for the virus is crucial. If testing was more available during the early stages of the virus, we probably could’ve been able to contain it better than we had. Many people who didn’t show enough symptoms were sent home. In the slight chances that they could’ve had the virus, they probably spread it more unknowingly. Since there wasn’t enough testing and the virus kept spreading, schools were shut down and kids had to go into quarantine. On May 1st, Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York announced, “Given the current situation, K-12 schools and college facilities will remain closed for the rest of the academic year and will continue to provide distance learning.” Because of the virus, I will be missing out on school trips, memories, graduation, getting to say goodbye to all of my teachers, and much more. However, even though I am upset, I’m glad that Governor Cuomo took action in closing down schools for everyone’s safety. I have family members that could potentially be easily infected by the virus, and I wouldn’t want myself or any of my siblings bringing the virus back into our home from school. Currently, school isn’t the safe environment it has always been in my district, so I’d rather continue learning from a distance. In the podcast, the spokespeople provided us with ways we could help stop the spread of the virus. Those extra steps did help a lot of people, but not enough to stop the spread. I hope that, unlike the other pandemics in years beyond my time, we have the right technology to find a vaccine and treatment course to prevent fatalities from the virus.

Michael Fiocco listened to: 

Containing the Coronavirus Outbreak – 2/13/20

This story pertains to my life because my father, Keeth Fiocco, works at the Jacob Javits Convention Center as an Electrical Steward of Local Union #3 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. For two weeks he and his fellow electricians all worked tirelessly to convert the largest convention center on the East Coast to a hospital that is able to house over 2,500 patients.

The decision to convert the Javits Center to a hospital was made by Governor Andrew Cuomo on March 27, 2020 in response to the need for additional beds in anticipation of a surge of COVID-19 patients that New York hospitals could not contain. After this monumental decision was made, the production quickly began on turning the giant convention center into a field hospital. For this to work, necessary life saving equipment needed to be imported from other areas. One piece of equipment were ventilators which are used to help people breathe when they are unable to on their own. Another item that was needed were hospital cots where the patients would stay and rest when they arrived at the Javits. Additional machinery included the Oxygen Concentrators, which are machines that purify oxygen for patients who have too little in their blood.

To install everything The National Guard, The Army Corps of Engineers and The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) worked in unison with the Local #3 electrical workers, as well as the other trades, to prepare to save their fellow New Yorkers. To keep the operation going at all times there were constant shifts in workers to keep them fresh and healthy as well as additional workers on emergency call. My Uncle, Christopher Erikson Business Manager of Local Union #3, along with his son , Christopher Erikson Jr. Business Representative of Local Union #3 for the Jacob Javits Center, also helped by reevaluating the contracts signed by the workers and allowed flexibility in shift times and work hours to alleviate the financial hardship the Javits Center was undergoing while insisting that everyone had appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) including masks, latex gloves and eye protection.

When the patients arrived they came in through the third floor loading dock where the medics would assess them and then be placed in one of two zones, the recovery area where they would just be monitored or the emergency care area where the patients needed more critical care. In the rooms where the patients stayed they were given a sleeping cot, a chair and an oxygen concentrator as well as other needed equipment. At night the lights are dimmed but never turned off completely and the patients rarely get any silence, instead there is always a quiet murmur in the distance.

As well as turning the Javits center into a field hospital my father was also tasked with working the sound system when The Governor would hold a press conference at the Javits Center. When I asked him how he felt during the program he said: “I felt really nervous and didn’t want to mess up because it feels like the whole world is watching me and even the smallest mistake won’t go unnoticed.” While watching, everything went well and they even used the audio of one conference to make an inspirational video, lifting the spirits of New Yorkers everywhere.

As we continue to see the fight against COVID-19, looking at my father always reminds me there are silent heroes that are putting their lives in danger everyday to make sure all hospitals, including the makeshift ones, are running efficiently. We clap for doctors, nurses, and first responders, let us all remember that there are others in the shadows that we clap for too.

We are always looking for more ways to share the great podcasts we feature every day in our Current Events collection at Listenwise. Recently, with the closure of schools, we realized it’s more important than ever to give students a variety of ways to connect with these stories. How could we make it easier and require less bandwidth?

The answer: The Listenwise News Bites Podcast

We select three of the best stories from our recent current events and turn them into a weekly podcast with thought-provoking questions posed to the listener. The podcast is hosted by veteran public radio reporter (and founder of Listenwise) Monica Brady-Myerov. It features primarily stories from NPR, a leader in balanced reporting. The podcast format offers a few advantages over listening on the Listenwise website or a mobile device. 

  • Low Bandwidth – Accessing a podcast on a smartphone requires minimal bandwidth over a short period of time. Once you’ve downloaded the episode, you can listen off-line. This is great for students who have limited access to broadband internet and might be using hotspots for internet access. And if they subscribe through the Apple app (or wherever they get their podcasts), your students will be delivered an episode weekly.
  • Independent Listening – The podcast inspires independent listening. Teachers or parents don’t need to assign the podcast, as they would on the Listenwise platform. We know the engaging, funny, and informative stories will keep young listeners interested in listening on their own.
  • Thought-provoking – Listenwise is produced by the same curriculum developers who bring you the listening comprehension and discussion questions and teacher resources on the Listenwise platform. Each story in the podcast is followed by a question for student reflection, such as, “What can you do to help people during the coronavirus pandemic?” 
  • Relevant and Fun – Informative, engaging podcast stories are curated for kids ages 7-18. Currently, many stories are related to the coronavirus pandemic in some way. Each podcast episode also features a 30-second Weird News story that is unexpected and funny. Did you hear the one about the falling iguanas? Or how alligators can help you keep your social distance? 

If you are a parent looking for informative podcasts that won’t feel like school, you will love the Listenwise News Bites Podcast. If you are a teacher who wants to give your students something fun AND educational to do over the summer, tell them to download the podcast today on Apple Podcasts!