Listenwise recently hosted twenty teachers at WBUR in Boston for a half-day workshop.  We provided the free food, free coffee, free prizes and a  free tour of the WBUR premises.  Despite all the freebies, according to the surveys we took, the teachers gave the “most valuable takeaway” award to finding a new resource for the classroom.

tom ashbrook

First on the agenda was a behind-the-scenes look at WBUR. Everyone got to see their favorite radio personalities, a novel change from just hearing their voices!  We met Robin Young, Jeremy Hobson, Deborah Becker (who was coming off a four-plus hour stint hosting Morning Edition that began at 5 a.m), and Tom Ashbrook.  Tom, who is the host of On Point, handed a couple of copies of his script to the teachers and asked them to look for grammar errors;  the guests gamely agreed to hunt down misplaced modifiers and split infinitives if they could find them.  It’s good to be a grammar freak.

teachers exploring

The bulk of the workshop was spent exploring the Listenwise site and all it has to offer.  It was exciting to share our newly-designed home page, which highlights our daily Current Event Stories and our comprehensive Lesson Plans.  One teacher enthused, “it is so helpful to have the lesson plans sorted by subject.”  We agree.  If you want an in-depth lesson plan about carbon in the atmosphere, than you shouldn’t have to waste valuable planning time skimming through lesson plans about the Gold Rush.

Science and Social Studies Curriculum Groups

After a short presentation on the benefits of auditory learning, the workshop attendees were excited to delve into the nitty-gritties of the lesson plans.  We broke into three groups:  science teachers, social-studies teachers, and primary-school teachers.  (While Listenwise is currently aimed at middle-school students, people of all ages can learn from public radio!)  Mark Goldner, Science Advisor for Listenwise, led a tutorial using the Sea Slugs Lesson.  Andrew Cook, Listenwise’s Social Studies Advisor, presented the Border States During the Civil War Lesson to his group.   Then teachers were given time to explore the website and choose lesson plans to use throughout the year.  These lessons, like every lesson plan on the Listenwise site, are entertaining, utilize primary sources, and serve the dual purpose of enhancing students’ listening skills while educating them about a relevant topic.  Did we mention they’re all written to the Common Core?

julie listening

NPR News Quiz and Closing Survey

As a public radio junkie, it’s always fun to test other junkie’s knowledge of current events and NPR trivia.  We played two rounds of the Listenwise NPR News Quiz.  Questions ranged from, “Who is the host of Science Friday?” to “What is the full name of the new Prince of Cambridge?”  At stake were Listenwise mugs, Listenwise earbuds, and Starbucks gift cards – essential accessories for the typical public radio listener.

The workshop closed with more questions, but this time, we wanted feedback from teachers. The most popular “complaint?” Three hours was too short!  We’ll take it.  See you at the next workshop- subscribe to our Twitter for details on the when and where.