ELA Middle School
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.
ELA High School
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.
ELA High School
Author Richard Wright is well known for his novel "Native Son" and autobiography “Black Boy." These books explore what it was like to grow up black and poor in America during the 1930s and 40s. Although Wright became famous for his writing, some Americans, including his own daughter, are still discovering who Richard Wright is and why his writing is significant. Listen to learn more about the impact Richard's Wright’s experiences and writing had on his daughter, his readers, and aspiring writers.
ELA Middle School
Maya Angelou was an author, poet and icon. She grew up during segregation and used her work to empower and give voice to the African American community. Her memoir, "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings" changed the literary world and opened doors for African American authors and women.
Current Event November 7, 2017
Schools are finding creative ways to encourage kids to read. In Fort Worth, Texas, barbershops are giving kids a chance to read while they get their hair cut. Some barbers are doubling as reading coaches—asking kids if they understand what they are reading, helping them with difficult words, and listening as they read aloud. This effort started in Texas with the city schools and similar programs are starting in cities across the country. Listen to hear more about how kids are being encouraged to read by their barbers.
ELA Middle School
“The Little Prince” is one of the most beloved books of all time. It was published in 1943 and has been translated into over 250 languages. Even today, it sells more than two million copies a year, making it one of the best selling books ever published. Although, on its surface, it appears to be a simple, illustrated children’s book, “The Little Prince” is actually a deeply philosophical work, full of allegory and commentary on human nature. Listen to learn more about its French author, Antoine Saint-Exupery, and the creative process that produced “The Little Prince.”
Current Event October 31, 2017
On Halloween, many children come home with bags full of candy. Some is eaten right away, some is left in the bag for later, and some is traded for more desirable candy. Some people rank their favorite candy based on texture or according to the proportion of ingredients such as the ratio of chocolate to caramel. What candy would be on your favorite list? Listen to this story to hear about one person’s ranking of Halloween candy based on her preferences.
Current Event February 10, 2015
“To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee has long been considered a classic in American Literature. Its look at race and injustice in the South through the eyes of a young girl known as Scout endures to this day, more than fifty years after its release. Fans of the novel received an amazing surprise last week when it was announced that Harper Lee will be publishing another book. “Go Set A Watchman” features the same world and characters of “To Kill a Mockingbird”. Listen to learn the fascinating story behind the new novel and how it inspired the original.
Current Event October 13, 2017
The football field has become a field for demonstrations. American football quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s silent protest against racial injustice consisted of kneeling during the national anthem at the start of NFL games. After President Donald Trump attacked NFL players who have knelt during the anthem, other athletes were inspired to kneel as well, while others locked arms and stood during the anthem. One point of view is that those who kneel are disrespecting the flag, veterans, and America and another is that politics should be removed from football games, and another is that Kaepernick is not showing disrespect and he has the right to protest injustice. Listen to this story and then debate: What do the national anthem protests mean?
Current Event October 18, 2017
The white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, VA in August brought hundreds of people carrying shields, guns, and torches who marched while shouting racist chants. Many people shared photos of these marchers to publicly identify them as racists. But there was at least one person misidentified. A university professor was flooded with people threatening him online because he looked like someone who attended the rally. This event highlights the fact that most people are not experts at identification. Listen to this story to hear the consequences of being mistaken for someone else in the era of social media.
Current Event October 19, 2017
Even though Mark Twain died more than 100 years ago, a new book was recently published based on his writing. Taking 16 pages of handwritten notes by Mark Twain, two authors collaborated to write a children’s book based on the bedtime stories Twain told his children. They discuss decisions they made throughout the process, including the main character’s race, and the goal they set as they wrote the story. Listen to hear more about this collaboration and the challenges of writing this book.
Current Event November 2, 2017
Shakespeare was an English playwright and actor. Today his work is seen as culturally significant and serious. His plays are studied and reinterpreted in performances and movies, presenting a wide range of emotions and conflicts. A new interpretation of Shakespeare’s work is a lighter pop-up book. Two actors who perform Shakespeare’s works have partnered with an artist to create the book. They wanted to approach his work playfully and be inviting to all audiences. Listen to hear more about this new version of Shakespeare’s plays.
Current Event November 3, 2017
One of the newest trends in coffee shops is welcoming animals. The way these cafes work is that people pay to enter and get a free drink. People who don’t have time or room for a pet can come and spend time with animals, without having to own them. Most people come to pet the cats, rabbits, sheep, or owls in the cafe. But some cafes might be going too far. In South Korea, one cafe welcomes raccoons, a typically wild animal that can be dangerous. Listen to hear about a visit to this cafe and then debate: Should animals be allowed in cafes?
Current Event September 12, 2017
Going to college is a dream for many people. Alex Gutierrez is a 16-year-old junior at International Leadership of Texas high school, and would like to go to college and study criminal justice to become an FBI agent or a police detective. Her mother also has hopes for Alex to be successful. But finding and applying for college can be overwhelming. Listen to hear about the fears and hopes of Alex as well as her mother, about going to college. This story from KERA also has resources that can provide more information about the process.
Current Event September 28, 2017
Houston, Texas is recovering from Hurricane Harvey and students were delayed in going back to school. Many students are staying in shelters and teachers are volunteering to provide learning opportunities to children who were traumatized or displaced by the hurricane. One special education teacher created a group of educators called Teachers Volunteering in Shelters to help these students. Listen to hear more about these volunteers.
Current Event September 29, 2017
Teens who vandalized an historic black schoolhouse in Virginia got an unusual sentence. The teens pled guilty to spray-painting swastikas and lewd symbols on the building. Instead of jail time, the judge ordered them to visit the U.S. Holocaust Museum and read books written by black, Jewish and Afghan authors and write essays about them. Listen to this story and then debate: Can consequences change the way students think?
Current Event September 22, 2017
In neighborhoods in and near Houston, Texas, many people stranded by the flooding brought on by Hurricane Harvey were not able to get through to 911. That's when social media sites such as Facebook, Nextdoor and Twitter became important connectors for people to ask for help. Some think these are effective when calls to emergency personnel don’t go through, and others encourage people to stick to 911 instead of social media. Listen to this story and then debate: Social media or 911: Who do you ask for help?
Current Event October 6, 2017
A role model is a person who can be imitated by younger people, and have an impact on their behavior, choices, and values. Sports stars have been looked up to as role models, however some such as Charles Barkley, a retired professional basketball player, have declared that he is not a role model. What are the responsibilities of people who are paid to play sports? Listen to this commentator’s opinion, and then debate: Should athletes be considered role models?
Current Event June 12, 2017
A high-school senior at Duncanville High School in Texas is juggling classes with a part-time job and her role as manager of her school’s softball team. At home, she helps her mother pay the bills and cares for her younger brother. After school, the softball team has become like a second family. She finds encouragement from people in her life and they provide support to help her face her challenges. Listen to hear more about this student’s life and what she wants for her future.
Current Event August 7, 2017
A young Dallas couple has decided to open their doors to refugee children in their neighborhood. They don’t run a daycare or an afterschool program, but host refugee children at their home for games, movies, and even homework. Their home has become a popular place for kids in this diverse neighborhood. Listen to this story to hear exactly how this family began helping refugee children and what kind of impact they have on their community.