Current Event March 20, 2018
Gwendolyn Brooks was the first African American to win a Pulitzer Prize in 1950. Her poetry and writing was well known by many African-Americans who read a paper called the Chicago Defender. After winning the Pulitzer Prize, her writing became known by white people as well. She influenced and inspired other writers such as Toni Morrison, and funded programs and prizes to encourage people to write poetry. Listen to this story about the life of Gwendolyn Brooks.
Current Event February 2, 2018
Cell phones have become a significant distraction for students and teachers in classrooms across the country. Administrators are trying a variety of ways to limit the use of cell phones. Some teachers take it upon themselves to take away students’ phones in their classrooms. Other schools have invested in soft pouches that lock up the phones during the school day. Listen to learn how students are reacting to these changes and then debate: Should schools hold student cell phones?
Current Event January 31, 2018
Online courses provide access to a variety of topics and can be accessed at any time by learners. One professor believes that by taking courses online people are missing out on visual art education. To combat this, she started a website with courses that delve deep into how art is made, in addition to offering online critiques that help people improve their craft. By becoming involved in her work, this professor has developed her mental flow and wants to show others how to get to this point by connecting with materials. Listen to learn why mental flow is essential for understanding another side to art.
Current Event February 12, 2018
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.
Current Event February 8, 2018
In North Korea, most citizens are not allowed to leave the country. However, for the Winter Olympics hosted in South Korea, the North Korean regime is permitting athletes to compete. North and South Korea will be united under one flag, and a pair of figure skaters from North Korea has qualified for the games. The International Olympic Committee gave them quota places, a rarely-used form of wild card, to allow them to compete since they missed the registration deadline. Many people are looking forward to a cultural exchange and interaction between North and South Korea. Listen to learn more about these North Korean figure skaters who will compete in the Olympics.
Current Event December 22, 2017
Many boys and girls have wondered how Santa Claus delivers toys to every child in one night. This story takes a scientific approach to answering that question. Scientist Neil deGrasse Tyson explains how Santa avoids burning up in the atmosphere when going at the speed of light, and how the reindeer might be more technically equipped than we think. Listen to learn about the military program that has been tracking Santa for years and information about Santa that you might not know.
Current Event December 8, 2017
Soccer is played by more than 3 million kids in leagues across the United States. Most parents cheer respectfully for their children, but some parents don’t. One volunteer referee for the American Youth Soccer Organization wrote a letter to parents with his thoughts on parents’ behavior. He encourages parents to be civil and be a good example for their kids. Listen to this story and debate: What is a parent’s role on the sidelines of kids' sports?
Current Event December 15, 2017
Across the country there’s a debate over whether or not out-of-school suspensions are effective in dealing with a student’s disruptive behavior. A city council member in Washington D.C. believes they are not useful and that more money should be put toward in-school activities for disruptive students. This issue concerns teachers since dealing with disruptive behavior can take time out of classroom teaching and affect other students. Listen to hear more about the pros and cons of in-school suspensions and then debate: Should suspension be in school or out of school?
Current Event November 22, 2017
A turkey at the Poplar Spring Animal Sanctuary in Maryland is not worried about becoming Thanksgiving dinner. Instead this turkey will be the guest of honor at dinner. Every year hundreds of people who eat only vegan or vegetarian food gather to eat with the turkeys, pigs, sheep, and other farm animals at Thanksgiving time. And they let the animals eat first. With help from charitable donations, this sanctuary has over 200 animals and a full-time caretaker. Listen to hear more about this unusual feast at Thanksgiving.
Current Event December 6, 2017
For people facing issues from stress to self-harm, there is a new way to get support. The Crisis Text Line provides free crisis intervention through text messages. Counselors have exchanged more than 50 million messages with people who are in crisis and need to talk with someone right away, but might not feel comfortable making a phone call to a traditional crisis hotline. In this story you’ll hear one volunteer counselor explain how she intervenes when people are in crisis and text for help.
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 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.
Current Event November 14, 2017
A group of fathers in Texas wanted to be sure every student in their schools had a father figure. So they created a group called All Pro Dads. This group of volunteers now has 1,300 fathers who serve the school district. At every school there are dads who welcome students as they are dropped off to help them start their day. They provide male role models in an effort to support students with mentorship, positivity, and encouragement. Listen to hear from volunteers as well as students about this program.
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 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 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 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 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 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?