Current Event May 26, 2017
A fidget spinner has two or three paddle-shaped blades attached to a central core. Kids hold it by the core and flick the blades to make it spin. Fidget spinners are popular in elementary and middle schools. They can be an effective calming influence and can help some students concentrate. They can also become airborne and create distractions to others who are trying to focus. Teachers have to decide whether to allow or ban them in their classrooms. Listen and then debate: Should fidget spinners be allowed in classrooms?
Current Event April 28, 2017
The sculpture ‘Fearless Girl,’ is the name given to a statue that was placed directly in front of the famous Wall Street Bull statue. The statue depicts the girl putting her hands on her hips and staring down the bull, symbolizing female possibility. However, many feel the statue is an empty gesture and that it is condescending to represent womanhood with a cute young girl. Some think it changes the meaning of the bull from a symbol of strength to a symbol of a villain. Listen to learn more about the statue’s impact as well as the controversy surrounding it, then debate whether the meaning of art can be changed.
Current Event May 12, 2017
The Federal Communications Commission, or FCC, is in the process of trying to repeal regulations on internet service providers, known as net neutrality rules. The basic principle of net neutrality is that internet service providers should not be allowed to block or slow access to any websites, apps or other services. And service providers such as Comcast and Verizon should not be able to charge companies for faster access. Currently, internet providers are required to treat every website equally. Listen to learn more about net neutrality and the FCC’s plans to roll back internet regulations and then debate: Should all websites be treated equally on the internet?
Current Event April 20, 2017
Women on sports teams make significantly less money than their male counterparts. USA Hockey dedicates fewer resources to the growth of women's hockey and provides less support. The U.S. Women’s National Hockey Team threatened to boycott the world championship unless their financial support was increased. They reached an agreement last month with USA Hockey, promising to increase the salaries of the female athletes. Listen to hear more about this historic agreement.
Current Event May 29, 2017
On Monday, a suicide bombing took place at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England killing 22 people and injuring 59 others. Many of the victims were young people. The terrorist group ISIS claimed responsibility for the bombing, and British Prime Minister Theresa May says that another terrorist attack may be imminent. Following the attack, thousands of Manchester residents attended a public vigil for victims. Listen to learn more about the victims and how residents of Manchester are coming together after this tragedy.
Current Event March 31, 2017
Howard Zinn is best known for his book, “The People’s History of the United States” in which he reveals the United States’ long history of war, invasion, and human rights violations. A lawmaker in Arkansas has introduced a bill to ban the writings of historian Howard Zinn from schools in the state. Some people view Zinn’s work as an important insight into the negative aspects of U.S. history, while critics say that it is anti-American. Listen to hear more about Zinn’s perspective on United States history and an Arkansas educator’s views on the proposal to ban Zinn’s books from schools. Listen and then debate with your students: Should some books be banned?
Current Event December 15, 2016
A theater in Providence, Rhode Island is making an effort to get more people interested in Shakespeare, regardless of the language they speak. A touring production of Romeo and Juliet was performed in both English and Spanish. The theater first put on the play in Providence, where nearly 40 percent of the population is Latino. Listen to the story to hear the experiences of the director and actors to learn how putting on this production was a chance to showcase the culture of Latinos.
Current Event September 30, 2016
Across college campuses, the idea of "trigger warnings," giving a heads-up to students before uncomfortable topics are discussed, and creating safe spaces for students to feel comfortable talking about their experiences, is gaining traction. Some people think this provides support for people who have been victimized and prevents triggering a recurrence of past trauma. Others people think this makes it possible for students to avoid certain topics and different perspectives that make them feel uncomfortable. The University of Chicago has decided not to give ‘trigger warnings’. Listen to this story to understand why and then debate the different perspectives on this policy.
Current Event September 28, 2016
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.
Current Event March 11, 2016
There are at least 600 schools across the country that have handed iPads to every student. At Burlington High School in Massachusetts, the students are using iPads and not textbooks. The principal states that everything students need for learning can be found on their web-enabled devices. Textbooks are static and publisher-driven, whereas in this school they focus on personalized learning where students frame the coursework. Some say technology should be limited in order to engage students in real world experiences, and that textbooks are an important part of how students learn. Listen to the story of this High School and debate with your students: Are textbooks or tablets better for student learning?
Current Event March 23, 2016
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.
Current Event March 17, 2016
Many of the characters in books written for students are white males. They 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 the story hear more about this remarkable campaign.
Current Event January 13, 2016
Americans throw away about a third of the food they buy, on average. Food ends up in landfills and creates methane, which contributes to climate change. A new national goal has been set by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Environmental Protection Agency to reduce food waste by 50 percent by the year 2030. There are many reasons people throw away food. Listen to hear about some solutions to this issue.
Current Event August 14, 2015
Author John Green is called the Teen Whisperer. His novel, 'The Fault in our Stars,' has sold over a million copies and his young adult novels have huge numbers of fans. Green’s 2009 novel, 'Paper Town,' also focuses on the lives of teenagers and has been made into a movie. Listen to John Green and find out why he sees teenagers as inspirational.
Current Event August 27, 2015
Are animals faster than humans? Common sense says horses are faster, but scientists say humans have the edge in marathon distances. Ancient man used to chase his dinner; thus, people have adapted to run long distances. This adaptation is put to the test every year in England when humans race horses on a 22-mile course through Wales. It’s an annual competition that started in 1980. Listen to find out who won the race this year and who has evolved to be faster.
Current Event August 25, 2015
Sleep is important for everyone’s health, but it’s particularly important for children and teenagers, whose brains are still growing. Teenagers are biologically inclined to stay up later, resulting in two-thirds of young people being seriously sleep deprived. Lack of sleep can lead to obesity, depression, smoking, drinking, lower grades, and can contribute to car crashes. To prevent these things, health experts recommend that middle and high schools start no earlier than 8:30 a.m. School districts are not following this recommendation, however, as five out of six schools start before then. Listen to more about this ongoing public health issue.
Current Event August 26, 2015
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the Mormon Church) has recently provided detailed explanations for how their scriptures were translated. This is the first time the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has published images of the seer stone, the stone that founder Joseph Smith used to translate the scriptures in the 1820s. The Mormon Church has said it wants to be more open about the origin of their religion, and is providing full-color photographs of the seer stone. Listen to hear more about these new church documents that were recently released.
Current Event 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.
Current Event May 29, 2015
Charlotte Bronte’s “Jane Eyre” is a classic coming of age tale of orphan Jane Eyre’s growth and morality. The original novel was published in England in 1847 and reflected the culture and standards of the time. A new novel by author Patricia Park, “Re Jane,” reimagines the tale, placing it in modern Korean American culture. Listen to hear from the author about how she was influenced by Jane Eyre and how the story resonates with her own culture and experience.
Current Event 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.