Julia alvarez

ELA High School

Julia Alvarez and Haiti

Julia Alvarez is a Dominican-American poet, novelist, and essayist. Her novels include “How the García Girls Lost Their Accents” and “In the Time of the Butterflies.“ Growing up in the Dominican Republic, she learned about the massacre of over 20,000 Haitians living in the Dominican Republic in 1937. She was consistently presented with negative stereotypes of her Haitian neighbors. For these reasons, Alvarez felt too ashamed and even afraid to visit Haiti. But she made the trip and then visited again to attend a wedding after the 2010 earthquake. Listen to learn more about how Alvarez needed to cross many borders—internal, historical, cultural—that stood in her way.

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ELA Middle School

Gary Soto’s Poetry


Poets use a blend of sounds and imagery to create an emotional response. For author and poet Gary Soto, sprinklers have a familiar sound and rhythm of the releasing water that remains timeless. Soto wrote a poem about a sprinkler from his childhood, exploring ways that the sound and rhythm of the device brought back memories and warm feelings from a summer when he was young. In the poem, “Ode to the Sprinkler,” he writes about the ways that sprinklers shaped his view of summer. Listen to the audio story as he recites his poem about a typical sprinkler during his childhood.

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ELA High School

How “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” Promoted Change

Race Literature Civil War

Published in 1852, Harriet Beecher Stowe’s anti-slavery novel “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” changed the way Americans viewed slavery and was a driving force that steered the political direction of the country during the 1850s as well. For many Americans, the characters in the novel are familiar, although their names have taken on new and unexpected meanings, and the novel’s theme still resonates today. Listen to learn more about the cultural impact of “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” in America and discover Harriet Beecher Stowe’s inspirations for writing the novel as well as how the novel still reminds us of what “freedom” means today.

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Current Event February 12, 2018

Teen Screen Addiction


Many children, teens, and adults spend a lot of time looking at screens. Whether it’s an addiction or merely troubling behavior, too much screen time can interfere with other activities, create changes in your mood, and cause other problems. A former executive from Google was so concerned about the public health risks of too much screen time, he started a company that tries to inform people about how addictive technology can be. Listen to learn how companies are responding to the growing concerns about too much technology.

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Listening olympics 3

Current Event February 23, 2018

Listening Olympics: QUIZ


It’s time to go for the gold!

Click the assign quiz button in the top right corner to assign the Listening Olympics Quiz to your students!

The quiz will be open until Friday March 2nd. Remember, once students start the quiz they cannot pause it and can’t take it twice.

Good luck!

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Current Event March 2, 2018

Debate: Should All Kids Get a Trophy?

Psychology Sports

Many kids receive a trophy, medal or ribbon for participating in sports, science fairs, or other competitions. Some think it’s sending a dangerous message to kids, telling them that they will be rewarded regardless of their effort or success. Some think the trophies are an important marker of participation and they mean something to kids. Listen to experts, as well as the reporter, as they describe their thoughts on giving trophies for participation, and then debate: Should all kids get a trophy?

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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 writing offers readers rich characterization and captivating dialogue as well as vivid depictions of 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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Current Event March 1, 2018

The Black Panther Movie

Race Entertainment

The movie about the superhero Black Panther is a phenomenon. The stars of the movie are black actors and it takes place in a fictitious African country that was never colonized by Europeans. The Black Panther has characters who are rulers of kingdoms, inventors, creators of advanced technology, and fierce women warriors who protect the king. Crowdfunders across the U.S. are raising money to take entire groups of kids to see this movie. Listen to this story to hear the reaction of fifth grade students after they saw the Black Panther.

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Current Event March 23, 2016

Honoring Culture with a Hairstyle

Gender Culture Sports

As part of Native American Heritage night, a women’s high school basketball team wore traditional Navajo hair styles. They wore a tsiyeela—a bun tied with yarn. Then a referee told them they couldn't play because he believed the hairstyle broke regulation. The students ended up taking out their buns. After the team received an apology, they wore their traditional hairstyles at the next game. And so did many in the audience. Listen to hear more about this event that highlights the issue of cultural sensitivity.

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Current Event September 28, 2016

Mother Teresa Made a Saint

Religion Elementary

Mother Teresa, a Roman Catholic nun and missionary, worked for years with the poor in India and was known as a “modern day” saint. She was born to an Albanian family in Macedonia and was a devoted humanitarian until her death in 1997. Recently, she was canonized by Pope Francis and is now officially recognized as a saint. The Catholic Church has spent over a decade examining evidence of miracles attributed to Mother Teresa in order to make her a saint. Listen to hear how the Vatican determined Mother Teresa’s sainthood.

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Current Event February 12, 2018

Listening Olympics: Opening Ceremony

While you cheer on your favorite athletes in Pyeongchang, you can take part in our Listenwise Listening Olympics!

When to listen: Monday February 12 - Friday February 23

When to take the quiz: Friday February 23 - Friday March 2

Contest ends: 11:59 pm EST on March 2

Be sure to play this audio of the Listening Olympics Opening Ceremony today with your class! Students can take our fun Listening Olympics quiz from Friday, February 23rd through March 2nd to see how well they listened. In the Olympic spirit, we will award Gold, Silver and Bronze prizes to contest participants based on the top quiz scores and highest student participation! You could win Bose headphones, a set of classroom headphones or Listenwise swag. More information available!

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ELA High School

Teens and Stress

Education Psychology

For many high school students, stress related to academic achievement, extracurricular activities, and homework affects their mental and physical health. In this audio story, psychologists discuss when stress is helpful and when it is hurtful. Some parents and their teens discuss ways they have tried to lessen school stress, allowing life to be more manageable and enjoyable. Listen to hear more about how high school students and their parents have decided to make changes to lessen stress while still aiming to be high achievers.

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ELA Middle School

The Cover of Graphic Novel 'Maus'

Biography World War II American Literature Graphic Novels

Art Spiegelman’s “Maus” is a creative and sensitive retelling of one man’s experiences during the Holocaust. As a graphic novel, “Maus” uses comic strips and drawings to help tell its story. The drawing on its cover, however, has been met with controversy in some parts of the world. Featuring a prominent swastika at its center, the cover art has faced objections in places like Russia and Germany. Listen to hear more about how well-intentioned rules around censorship can lead to unintended consequences.

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Letters to juliet

ELA Middle School

Letters to Juliet

Fiction Writing Drama

William Shakespeare’s tragic romance of star crossed lovers, based on an Italian tale, graced stages in the 1590’s and continues to capture audiences and imagination today. Modern adaptations demonstrate the timelessness of this romantic tragedy. Juliet appeals so directly to people that they actually write to her! Listen to learn more about the Juliet Club and the 6,000 letters they receive a year.

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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 High School

The Life of Langston Hughes

Race Poetry

Langston Hughes, an African American writer who lived and wrote during the first half of the 20th century, remains one of the most celebrated writers in American history. He was a social activist, novelist, playwright, columnist and leader of the Harlem Renaissance. In this story, a woman is pleasantly surprised to find one of his poems among her granddaughter’s school papers. She shares with her granddaughter the many things she admired about Hughes, and the many reasons he was such an influential poet and person during his time. She speaks about Hughes’s early life, his travels, and his lyrical poetry. Listen to learn more about this famous poet, who continues to inspire younger generations today.

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Saving literary masterpieces

ELA High School

Saving Literary Masterpieces

Literature Ethics Biography Fiction

Franz Kafka worked at an insurance company and wrote in his spare time. He asked that all his personal papers, including literary manuscripts be burned when he died. After Kafka’s death, his friend and literary executor Max Brod ignored Kafka’s wishes and published many of his manuscripts. "The Trial," a novel about law, justice and the arrest and prosecution of a man for an unknown crime, was one of these manuscripts. Other people face similar decisions around respecting the wishes of an artist or writer by destroying their work. Listen to a conversation with an ethicist as he discusses the implications of this debate through a modern day example.

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ELA High School

Poet Emily Dickinson, An Eccentric Recluse

Gender Poetry Biography Fiction

American poet Emily Dickinson was known as an eccentric recluse throughout her life. Dickinson maintained many of her friendships through letter writing, while 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.

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Current Event February 20, 2018

Struck by Lightning and Reconnecting


Some events can deeply connect two people. In this story a 12 year old girl’s life was saved, and it took over 50 years for her to find the one who saved her. In 1967 two girls were at a camp and one was struck by lightning and fell unconscious. The boom of lightning made the other girls run from the cabin but when one girl realized she wasn’t with them, she went back to get her. That action saved her life. Listen as these two women reconnect for the first time since that event to say thank you and tell their stories.

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Current Event August 25, 2014

The Giver: A World Without War or Memories

Civics/Government Literature

In 1993, the book The Giver made a splash in the world of young literature, 20 years later it has made it to the big screen. Author Lois Lowry discusses her inspirations for a world in which there are no memories or emotions but there are clear rules and regulations. We also hear from the movie’s screenwriter, who himself read the book as a fifth grader. Listen to this public radio story to learn more about what inspired the book and led to the film.

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