TEACHERS: Current events podcasts for the classroom!
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December 7, 2013
The works of American author Mark Twain are widely studied, but the man behind this famous pen name is less understood. Samuel Clemens was born in a small Missouri town and through challenges, travels and adventures he became and created Mark Twain. This self-educated “border ruffian” became a successful and famous “Connecticut Yankee” by combining his life experiences, sense of humor and renowned writing talents. Listen to learn how the life of Samuel Clemens created the Mark Twain we know and love.
December 7, 2013
In 1960, American author John Steinbeck took a 10,000 mile road trip around the United States with his poodle, Charley. They rode in his pickup truck, which he converted to a camper and named Rocinante after Don Quixote’s horse. This counterclockwise trip from New York to Maine, to the Pacific Northwest, California, Texas, the Deep South and back to New York inspired Steinbeck’s novel “Travels with Charley” and allowed Steinbeck to see his country and answer the question “What are Americans like today?” A modern day journalist retraced Steinbeck’s journey, using the novel, Steinbeck’s letters and some old-fashioned detective work.
December 6, 2013
The British legend of King Arthur dates back to the late 5th and early 6th centuries. The details of his life story are populated by folklore and medieval fiction and have been expanded by authors throughout the centuries. The tale of the sword and the stone has resonated through the ages. A young King Arthur learns from sorcerer Merlin with no knowledge of his noble blood. This concept of childhood and the unexpected hero has transcended time and resonates in tales of unlikely heroism today. Listen as modern author Lev Grossman discusses his favorite version of this tale 'The Once And Future King.'
December 6, 2013
The former President of South Africa Nelson Mandela died at the age of 95. Mandela was the founding president of the democratic nation. Listen to this story to learn about Mandela's life and legacy.
December 5, 2013
Phillis Wheatley lived an extraordinary life. Born in West Africa and sold into slavery in Boston, Massachusetts, Wheatley became the first published African-American woman and poet. In addition to being a poet, Wheatley exchanged letters with religious leaders and philanthropists. Some of her letters have survived, including one in which she reflects on the American Revolution. Listen to learn about this valuable letter, which was auctioned off in 2005.
December 4, 2013
Slavery is a horror of history. The capture and transportation of human beings from Africa to North America through the Middle Passage is an experience that is hard to imagine. First-person slave narratives were the first honest account of the experience and were used by the abolitionist movements in Britain and the United States to show the reality of slavery. Listen to learn more about the first-person account of freed slave Olaudah Equiano, shared in his autobiography in 1789.
December 2, 2013
American poet Emily Dickinson was known as an eccentric recluse throughout her life. Dickinson maintained friendships through letter writing. She wrote poetry privately. Her unusual poetry style wasn’t truly discovered until after her death in 1886 when her sister Lavinia found nearly 1,800 of her sister’s poems. Though Lavinia had promised to destroy her sister’s papers, she instead had the poems published, which led to Emily’s fame as a great American poet. Listen to learn how her poetry continues to be an inspiration today.
December 1, 2013
William Faulkner was a private man and a proud Southerner. He is considered by many to be a literary genius. Faulkner wrote frankly about the South, where he lived his entire life. His work brought him acclaim including a Nobel Prize and two Pulitzer Prizes. From 'The Sound and the Fury' to 'As I Lay Dying,' Faulkner took the reader into the mind of his characters by presenting distinct points of view and a stream of consciousness writing style. Learn more about this great American author by exploring his antebellum home in Oxford Mississippi.
November 30, 2013
American poet Sylvia Plath is well known for her work, her life and her death. Plath’s suicide in February 1963 shocked a generation of readers and writers, shining a light on the plight of women and mental illness. These are the topics that Plath had written about in her semi-autobiographical novel “The Bell Jar.” Fifty years after her dramatic death, Plath’s poetry lives on. Listen to learn more about the life of Sylvia Plath and the collection of poetry, “Ariel,” published after her death.
November 29, 2013
On November 19, 1863 President Abraham Lincoln gave a short speech to honor those who had died at the Battle of Gettysburg, which was fought in July of that year. After a two hour speech by politician Edward Everett, Lincoln spoke for just over two minutes. In just 272 words Lincoln explicitly linked human equality and democracy to the Union war effort. This statement of purpose has lived on and remains one of the most famous speeches of the Civil War. Listen to hear the Gettysburg Address and learn more about the historical context in which it was delivered.
November 27, 2013
In life and in math class we use the numerals 0 through 9 every day. They are the basis of our financial system and shape the way we understand value. We have a young Italian mathematician named Leonardo da Pisa, nicknamed Fibonacci, to thank for this. In 1202 he published a book called “Book of Calculation” that introduced these numerals to Europe, replacing Roman numerals and the abacus once and for all. Listen to learn more about the man and concept behind Fibonacci and his numbers.
November 26, 2013
From accents to slang to dialect, people who speak English do not always sound the same. The way people speak reflects a lot of different factors in their lives including region, race, class and education. Some slang is reflective of an era. The word “groovy” will forever be linked to hippies, while other pronunciations reflect a longer history of language, colonization and power. Listen to learn how the pronunciation of the word “ask” has changed over time, and how the black community uses code-switching to adapt to their surroundings.
November 25, 2013
Decades of Americans are able to remember where they were at the moment they heard President John F. Kennedy had been shot and killed in Dallas, Texas on November 22, 1963. Fifty years later in this radio story we relive the events of that fateful day through the memories of two reporters who were there. Hugh Aynesworth was a local reporter for The Dallas Morning News and Sid Davis was a White House correspondent traveling with the president's press corps. Put yourselves in their shoes as they take you through how they learned about and covered the assassination.
November 25, 2013
Minimalist author Raymond Carver is known for his simple but powerful short stories of ordinary people. This gritty minimalism both reflects and contradicts the tough and chaotic life of the man himself. Listen to learn more about the life and contradictions of this American author heavily influenced by the work of Anton Chekhov.
November 24, 2013
The United States Secret Service has grown and evolved since its creation in 1865. Originally tasked with suppressing and investigating counterfeit money, the Secret Service took on the responsibility of protecting the president after the assassination of President William McKinley in 1901. The assassination of President John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963, had an equally dramatic effect on the way the Secret Service provided protection. Listen to learn more about the lapses in security that lead to the assassination and the changes implemented since.
November 23, 2013
The assassination of President John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963 shocked the nation, but the setting of his assassination was less surprising. Dallas, Texas was the center of the anti-Kennedy movement in the United States. Powerful business men, elected officials and Baptist preachers had all joined together to call for the overthrow of President Kennedy for treason. They had whipped up an atmosphere of hate and hysteria in the large southern city. It was into this atmosphere that President Kennedy rode in an open motorcade and was shot by Lee Harvey Oswald from an abandoned building along the route. Listen to learn more about the setting of the assassination.
November 22, 2013
St. Cuthbert, an Anglo-Saxon monk, hermit and saint, was known for his ability to heal and revered in Medieval England. During his lifetime he recorded the St. John’s gospel in Latin. This book went with him to the grave and was rediscovered when his body was moved to a new shrine in 1104. The British Library purchased the book, known as the St. Cuthbert Gospel, for $14 million. Listen to learn more about the fascinating history of this medieval book.
November 22, 2013
50 years ago today, President John F. Kennedy was assassinated. Looking back on the key moments in his presidency, the Cuban Missile Crisis stands out. In 1962, the U.S came dangerously close to igniting a global nuclear war with the Soviet Union. President John F. Kennedy showed that in a time of crisis, one must ultimately worry about not just protecting his own American citizens but about all people. Listen to this story to hear how JFK urged diplomacy despite the pressure for war.
November 21, 2013
Richard III, the last York King, was the King of England from 1483 to 1485. After his death in 1485 at the Battle of Bosworth, the Tudor dynasty began. The Tudors, with the help of William Shakespeare, worked to depict Richard has a hunchbacked villain. But the real story is more complex. In 2012 Richard’s remains were found under a parking lot, the site of a cathedral in the 15th century. They were exhumed and reburied at Leicester Cathedral in 2015. Listen to learn more about this fascinating discovery and the Medieval smear campaign that led to Shakespeare’s depiction of Richard III.
November 21, 2013
Several non-profits are targeting families in Africa making less than $2 per day: they want to give those families' children a chance to gain a world class education with affordable tuition. However, stakeholders in Africa feel like chains of low-cost private schools are actually accomplishing the opposite and do not allow access to education for the poorest kids. Discuss with your students the importance of education and what kind of aid is actually helpful by listening to this story.
November 20, 2013
Davy Crockett lives in the American imagination as a legendary frontiersman and defender of the Alamo. Crockett lived an extraordinary life in the 1830s, but became even more famous in the 1950s when Walt Disney chose Davy Crockett as a character for his new theme park, Disneyland. From the coonskin cap to his death at the Alamo, this story analyzes the reality behind the myth of Davy Crockett’s life.
November 20, 2013
President John F. Kennedy remains one of most popular presidents among African-Americans. He helped Dr. Martin Luther King get out of jail and stood for civil rights policies. Tragically, he was not able to personally complete the bill for equal rights, though his successor did. Listen to this story about how JFK struggled to stand up for civil rights despite an important party of opposing opinions and escalating violent acts.
November 20, 2013
Over the weekend, thousands of people in the Philippines died as Typhoon Haiyan ravaged the area. It was one of the strongest typhoons ever recorded. Listen to this story to understand why this storm caused so much damage.
November 19, 2013
William Shakespeare wrote some of the most famous and recognizable love poems of all time, but some historians think that Shakespeare had no intention of publishing these private messages. His sonnets were largely biographical and it is believed they were written to another man. When a collection of these personal sonnets were published by a shady publisher named Thomas Thorpe, Shakespeare tried to stop their distribution. Listen to learn more about Shakespeare’s sonnets and their unwanted publication.
November 18, 2013
We often think of Shakespeare’s verse as grand, beautiful and proper. The British Library has analyzed the rhyme of Shakespeare’s work and discovered the original pronunciation and dialect of his writings when they were first performed at the Globe Theater. Listen to hear how Shakespeare may have sounded 400 years ago.
November 15, 2013
The King James Bible has a rich history. King James I, a Scot who became King of England, had the Christian Bible translated for the Church of England in order to legitimize his rule in the early 1600s. The legacy of the King James Bible lives on in the English language. From books to songs and idioms, the King James Bible has become part of English culture and language. Listen to learn more about the King James Bible from 1603 to today.
November 15, 2013
After Edward Snowden exposed the U.S government's spying activities, it is impossible to know what gets monitored and what doesn't. However, video game companies aren't hiding as we learned in this story posted last week. Video game companies are tracking players' every action to increase the addiction - so why aren't people as outraged at video game companies as they are at the government? Learn more about what third grade students think after hearing about the science behind video game addiction by listening to this story.
November 14, 2013
Dante Alighieri finished writing the three part epic poem “Divine Comedy” in 1321. The poem’s three parts, hell, purgatory and heaven follow one man on his journey through all three imaginary places. This great work of Italian literature has survived the ages and remains a classic today. There have been many translations of Dante’s work. This story interviews Clive James, the most recent English translator, about this epic poem and his translated version of “Divine Comedy.”
November 13, 2013
Jonathan Swift’s 1726 classic “Gulliver’s Travels” is a satirical tale of travels to a long-lost land. A modern-day movie, starring actor Jack Black, takes the centuries old classic and begins the story in modern day New York City. Listen to learn more about the original novel and this new movie adaptation.
November 13, 2013
As part of Native American History month, listen to this story with students to hear one man's story about keeping alive his Native American language.
November 12, 2013
Author Jane Austen is well known for her novels that reflect on romance and the familial and cultural standards of late 18th century England. Some paint Austen as a drab spinster, but a new biography by Paula Byrne explores the real Austen through objects that were important to her in her life and literature. This portrait of an opinionated, fun loving Austen will help you understand her life, family and themes she revisits in her works.
November 11, 2013
William Shakespeare’s play “Macbeth” is a tragedy that wrestles with issues of power, ambition and madness. From witches and ghosts to murder, this classic tale has been staged for decades. A new rendition is set in a psychiatric institution and is played almost entirely by one actor, Alan Cumming. Listen to learn more about the original story and this unique adaptation.
November 8, 2013
Mary Shelley’s gothic classic “Frankenstein” was published anonymously when she was just twenty. The novel was a horror story, but it was also part of the romantic movement and is considered by some to be one of the first science fiction novels. Shelley’s work has been retold through illustration and movies in the past, but not all have been true to the original story. A new graphic novel by artist Gris Grimly brings this tale to life with care and accuracy. Listen to learn what drew Gris Grimly to the story and what drove him to create this graphic novel.
November 7, 2013
English Romantic poetry is often misunderstood and not considered in the context of the life of the poets or the era in which they lived. The movie “Bright Star” by director Jane Campion explores the life of poet John Keats and the romantic relationship that drove him to write his most famous works. Campion explores the short life and love of this well-known poet. From the difficulty people have understanding poetry to considering Keats, Byron and Shelley in their historical context, this interview with Campion will open your eyes to the world of 19th Century English Romantic poetry.
November 6, 2013
The Brontë sisters, Charlotte, Emily and Jane, were successful novelists and poets. Their childhood, relationships and imagination shaped their famous works. A tiny “magazine” created by 14-year-old Charlotte Brontë to go with their set of toy soldiers is a lens into their world of imagination and gothic extravagance. Listen to learn more about this work, just half the size of a credit card, and what it tells us about the life of these famous literary figures.
November 5, 2013
Author Rudyard Kipling was the most popular writer of his era. He wrote novels, short stories and poems that adults and children have enjoyed for generations. Kipling lives on through his children stories like “The Jungle Book” and his most controversial poem “The White Man’s Burden." Born in India and relocated to England, Kipling experienced colonial life firsthand. Kipling’s support of colonial expansion has caused some to brand him as an imperialist. Listen to learn more about his life and hear some of his newly discovered poetry.
November 4, 2013
Alfred Tennyson, better known as Lord Tennyson, was Poet Laureate of Great Britain and Ireland for 42 years during the reign of Queen Victoria. His short lyrical poems appealed to the people of the 19th century, many of whom couldn’t read. One of this most famous poems “The Charge of the Light Brigade” describes a real event during the Crimean War. This charge, during the Battle of Balaclava in 1854, became the most well known action of the war thanks to Tennyson’s poem, even though the poem wasn’t entirely accurate. Listen to learn more about the Crimean, War, the real charge and how Tennyson’s words brought this event to life for the British people.
November 1, 2013
From the early days of Pong to the current obsession with Minecraft, the pull to video games has never wavered; if anything, it has strengthened through the targeted efforts of the video game industry. As players sit at home, researchers are gathering data about your habits and interests from each action you make in the game, so they are literally "getting into" the minds of players as well as their wallets. Listen to this story to see how they do it.
November 1, 2013
Winston Churchill, prime minister of Great Britain during World War II, was a master orator. His speeches were painstakingly written, meticulously planned and seamlessly delivered. Churchill was given a Nobel Prize in LIterature for his powerful speeches and his other written works. Listen to learn more about the speeches that Churchill wrote and delivered, and the effect they had on shaping World War II.
October 31, 2013
In the last 30 years the rich have become richer. Lower-income earners gained 18%, the middle class earned 40%, and the top 1% of wage earners gained 275%. What's a good way to illustrate to students how the gap as widened? Candy Corn! Listen to this story to hear an audio graph of the income gap. Then discuss with students what it means for an economy and society with a large income gap and possible alternatives to redistribute wealth more evenly.