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ELA High School

'Don Quixote' and Being A Dreamer

Classics European Literature

“Don Quixote,” by Miguel de Cervantes, marked the first time a character’s inner life evolved from the beginning to the end of the story. Cervantes’ masterpiece is considered by many to be the first—and best—modern novel. In an era where 140 characters are the limit, it might be difficult to imagine how a 1,000-page book about a man having a midlife crisis has endured for more than 400 years. The title character’s message of optimism and authenticity resonates with readers, who root for Quixote, the imperfect, everyman hero.

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Current Event May 2, 2018

College Wait Lists Keep Student Guessing

Education

High school seniors applying for college often hear from schools in April. It’s a stressful time and students are eager to hear from their first choice colleges. More and more colleges are putting students on a waitlist instead of giving a ‘yes’ or ‘no.’ This gives the colleges more options and a wider pool of students to choose from. But it also can be misleading if only one or two percent of the students on the waitlist are actually accepted to attend the college. Listen to hear from a college admissions adviser who criticizes this practice.

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ELA High School

Math in 'Alice in Wonderland'

Literature Mathematics

Lewis Carroll’s 1865 fantasy novel, “Alice in Wonderland” is a beloved children’s book. The novel also comments on mathematics. Charles Dodgson, whose pen name was Lewis Carroll, originally invented the story to entertain his friends’ young daughters. Dodgson was himself a serious mathematician who lectured at Christ Church College in Oxford, England. When he put the story on paper to publish it, he ended up writing sections that poked fun at current mathematics, which he was worried were becoming increasingly abstract. Listen to the story to learn more about the mathematical references in “Alice in Wonderland.

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Current Event April 26, 2018

Racial Equity and Stephon Clark

Economics Race

The shooting of Stephon Clark, an unarmed black man killed by police in Sacramento, California, sparked outrage and demands for police reform. In Sacramento there is a call to rebuild communities of color. Stephon’s brother, Ste’Vante Clark is part of a group of new activists, called Build. Black. Coalition. They want to lessen the disparity around education, job opportunity, and housing, which affects the people living in predominantly black neighborhoods. Listen to hear more about how this tragic event is sparking activism to try to transform black communities.

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Current Event April 23, 2018

Facebook CEO Answers Questions from Congress

Technology

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testified before both houses of Congress about how the social media giant protects the privacy of its users. He was questioned about how the political data mining firm, Cambridge Analytica, obtained data from millions of Facebook users. Zuckerberg was forced to acknowledge that Facebook extensively tracks users when they are using the site and when they are not even logged in. Several members of Congress asked whether Zuckerberg thought Facebook should be regulated. Listen to hear more about Zuckerberg’s statements in his testimony before Congress.

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ELA High School

Reflecting on Toni Morrison

Poetry American Literature

Toni Morrison, who won a Nobel Prize for Literature, believes in addressing reality in her writing, no matter how painful. In this audio story, she reflects on writing about unfortunate truths, such as racism. Morrison’s stories are full of complicated characters and interesting dialogue while portraying harsh realities. Listen to hear Morrison reflect on the realities of racism today and learn what Morrison's writing means to one admirer who values Morrison's talent for storytelling.

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Charles dickens reflects on society

ELA High School

Charles Dickens Reflects on Society

World History II Fiction Historical Fiction Industrialism Writing Process

Charles Dickens was the first literary celebrity of his era. He wrote about the working poor and the dangerous working conditions in England. A visit to the textile mills in Lowell, Massachusetts served as an inspiration for Dickens to continue writing about these London realities. Listen to this story to learn how Dickens reflected and questioned English society in his work.

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ELA Middle School

Immigrant Experience

Race Religion Education Culture Global

In 2015, the United States resettled nearly 70,000 refugees as wars and political instability continue to drive people from their home countries. Resettlement isn’t easy for the person coming to a new country. One of those people, Barwaqo Mohamed was born and grew up in Somalia, but came to the U.S. as a political refugee in 2006. In this audio story, Barwaqo talks about her experience as an immigrant with a journalist who volunteered to tutor her in English for over four years. Barwaqo describes herself as a natural at learning languages and that helped her fit in. Listen to the interview to learn how that skill has served her since she came to the U.S.

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ELA Middle School

Anne Frank’s Father Attempted to Emigrate

Immigration Memoir

Anne Frank’s diary of her family’s life in hiding from the Nazis is one of the most famous accounts of World War II. Less known is how her father, Otto Frank made many attempts to get his wife and two daughters, Margot and Anne, out of Nazi Germany to safety. In 2005, several letters and documents written by Otto Frank were discovered. Despite the support of several wealthy and powerful friends in the United States, he was unable to acquire the necessary visas. The U.S. was making it more and more difficult for immigrants to enter the country and, after Germany declared war on the U.S., Cuba rescinded the visas it had originally offered. Listen to learn more about the powers that kept the Frank family in Europe, where they were eventually discovered, arrested and almost all murdered by the Nazis.

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ELA Middle School

Reading ‘Harry Potter’ and Developing Empathy

Literature Psychology

‘Harry Potter’ is a popular series of fantasy novels written by British author J.K. Rowling. The novels chronicle the life of a young wizard as he makes his way through magical schooling, forming friendships and fighting supernatural enemies. The title character, Harry Potter, has a tremendous impact on the wizarding world. It turns out that the boy wizard may also have an effect on the real world. According to a recent study, reading “Harry Potter” books could influence readers’ empathy and attitudes. Listen to find out how J.K. Rowling’s work might make a real difference to readers.

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ELA Middle School

A Letter from Phillis Wheatley

Race Gender Poetry American Revolution

Phillis Wheatley was the first black poet in the United States. Born in Senegal, Wheatley was taken to Boston, Massachusetts, as a slave. Since she was too weak for manual labor, Wheatley was taught to read and write instead. She published her first poem in 1767. A two-page letter by Wheatley, previously unpublished, was recently auctioned. Listen to learn more about Phillis Wheatley, the contents of this letter, and why it is so significant to scholars, historians, and collectors.

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ELA Middle School

The Meaning of the Oxford Comma

Writing Process Language

Whether or not to use the “Oxford comma” is a big debate among grammar lovers, journalists, and English teachers. The punctuation mark appears at the end of a series, right before “and” or “or.” Recently, the Oxford comma came into the spotlight during a lawsuit about overtime pay. A close look at the law revealed that its punctuation, or lack thereof, made possible two entirely different interpretations. Listen to hear more about how one missing comma could cost a dairy company millions of dollars.

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Current Event April 10, 2018

Historically Black Colleges

Race Education KERA

In the United States during the era of slavery, it was illegal for all African Americans, enslaved and free, to learn to read and write. But in 1863 the first school for freed slaves opened and by the end of the 19th century, black colleges supported civil rights activism and helped redefine what it meant to be black in America. A new documentary tells about the history of black colleges and the goals of these educational institutions. Listen to this story to hear more about the creation and development of historically black colleges and universities.

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ELA High School

Women’s Dystopian Future in ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’

Gender Fiction Dystopian Fiction

Published in 1985, ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ is a dystopian novel set in a near future version of America. It tells the story of Offred, a woman living in the theocratic, authoritarian country of Gilead. More than 30 years since it was published, a TV adaptation sparked renewed interest in the novel. Listen to three journalists discuss how Offred’s story relates to contemporary American society.

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Current Event April 12, 2018

Celebrating Poetry

Poetry

April is National Poetry Month. To kick off the month, professor and U.S. Poet Laureate, Tracy K. Smith, discusses writing poetry and what inspires her. She believes poetry helps us be more introspective, especially in this era of information overload with technology. Listen to hear more about poetry and writing from this Poet Laureate.

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ELA Middle School

Diversity in Children’s Literature

Race Education Children's Literature

Many of the characters in books written for children don’t reflect everyone’s background. One girl became frustrated when she couldn’t connect to the characters. In response, she began to gather books about black girls and then give these books to schools. Now that she has exceeded her original goal and collected almost 4,000 books, the girl has started to consider how to impact schools in an even larger way. Listen to hear what actions this girl decided to take to promote diverse books in schools.

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What is a memoir

ELA High School

What is a Memoir?

Biography Memoir Nonfiction

How accurate are memoirs? This public radio story looks at a scandal involving author James Frey and his memoir “A Million Little Pieces.” Frey was charged with exaggerating, and even lying about, his own life in his memoir. Where should a writer draw the line between fact and fiction in memoirs?

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Yas first modern heroine anne of green gables

ELA Middle School

YA's First Modern Heroine: 'Anne of Green Gables'

Gender Fiction Drama Young Adult Literature

One of the most enduring novels written for young adults is "Anne of Green Gables," by Lucy Maud Montgomery, published in 1908. It was one of the first YA novels to feature a strong, unconventional female lead—Anne, the unwanted, unloved, but unbowed orphan who grabs hold of a chance for a new life and refuses to let go, no matter how difficult things get. Before Anne, most heroines were beautiful and angelic. "Anne of Green Gables" is over 100 years old, but its heroine measures up to any female lead contemporary YA novels have to offer.

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The giver and memory

ELA Middle School

'The Giver' and Memory

Ethics Fiction Science Fiction Fantasy

"The Giver" is a story about a world without memories. A new movie version of the novel depicts this world as a sterile, emotionless place. In this story, public radio talks with author Lois Lowry and how she came up with the idea to write the book. The book asks, “Would it be easier if we didn’t have memories?”

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ELA High School

Anne Frank’s Diary

World History II World War II Memoir

Literature has the power to influence our lives. In this audio story, several fifth graders at Anne Frank Elementary School in Philadelphia reflect on the lessons they have learned from reading Anne Frank’s innermost thoughts in "The Diary Of A Young Girl." Their fifth grade class is diverse, with kids from many countries and cultures all over the world. You will hear many students explain how they can relate in different ways to the sentiments Anne Frank expresses in her diary. Listen to learn more about the ways these students think Anne Frank’s diary brings us together, gives us hope, and inspires us to never repeat the horrors of the past.

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