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ELA Middle School

The Language of Idioms

Education Language

Idioms are developed within a culture and are like a language of their own. They convey meaning that extends beyond the definition of individual words to express a fuller collective meaning. Many times, idioms are able to pack more meaning into fewer words because they directly translate a familiar sentiment. A dictionary of idioms is essential for communication in America. This story reveals the origin of idioms that allude to art, history, and American politics in the latest edition of “The American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms”. Listen to hear how idioms reveal a snapshot of American society in different time periods.

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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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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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Current Event March 26, 2018

Students Walk Out Over Guns

Education Protest

Across the country students walked out of their classrooms to protest the mass shooting that happened at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL and called for stricter gun laws. The protest was 17 minutes long in honor of each person killed during the shooting. There was another protest on March 24 in Washington D.C. and cities across the country called March for Our Lives, which aimed to end gun violence and mass shootings. Listen to hear from students at a high school in Philadelphia during the walk out, and more about these protests.

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Current Event January 13, 2016

Reducing Food Waste

Health Elementary

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.

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ELA High School

Understanding Worldwide Idioms

Every language has its own collection of idioms, phrases that you can’t take literally. The meanings of idioms have nothing to do with the words in the phrase. Understanding these phrases in different languages is a unique challenge for anyone learning a second language. Listen to hear about the idioms used in a wide array of different languages.

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ELA High School


The Perseverance of Strong Women


Many people have mothers or grandmothers who inspire courage and tenacity when facing adversity. This audio story focuses on women who sacrifice and provide for their families, especially when times are tough. One recent high school graduate discusses her family’s challenges and describes how her mother and grandmother find the strength and inspiration to overcome their struggles. Listen to hear more about women who are an example of perseverance and grit and discover what it is that helps them succeed.

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ELA Middle School

The Unsuccessful Quest For A Universal Language

Storytelling Language

In the 17th century, people were determined to overcome communications barriers between the people of the world by creating a universal language. Sir Isaac Newton is known for discovering gravity, but he was also the creator of the “Newtonian” language. The language Newton created was never successful. The language of Esperanto was created in the 1960 but also never caught on. Listen to learn more about invented languages and why they never became universal.

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Current Event March 28, 2018

World’s Best-Known Scientist, Stephen Hawking

Earth and Space Science

Stephen Hawking was considered by many to be the greatest scientist of his generation. He was brilliant and funny and authored a best selling book titled “A Brief History of Time.” He had ALS, a disease that led to his paralysis. But he was able to overcome his adversity and do great work as a scientist by using a speech-generating device with the muscles in his cheek. As a theoretical physicist, his work explored the mysteries of the universe and black holes and inspired millions of people. Listen to this story about Stephen Hawking’s life and accomplishments.

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Current Event April 2, 2018

Students March Against Gun Violence

Education US government Protest

Sparked by outrage over the Parkland, Florida school shooting, hundreds of thousands of demonstrators marched in Washington, D.C. to demand gun regulation in an event called "March for Our Lives." It was one of the biggest rallies for gun control ever and over a million people marched in cities across America and around the globe. The survivors of the Parkland shooting helped organize the events and spoke at several rallies. Listen to hear the reactions of people who attended the rally to push for changes in gun laws.

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ELA High School

'The Hate U Give' and the Call to Activism

Race Literature Civil RIghts

Angie Thomas’ novel, "The Hate U Give", tells the story of Starr, a young woman of color, who turns toward activism after witnessing the murder of her friend Khalil by a police officer when she is 16 years old. The novel is closely modeled after Thomas’ experiences as a student, and on the stories of several of the young men who have been victims of racialized police violence in recent years. In this audio story, the author talks about what inspired her to write this groundbreaking novel.

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ELA Middle School

'A Wrinkle in Time' Continues its Journey

Gender Fiction Science Fiction Children's Literature Young Adult Literature

"A Wrinkle in Time," a famous novel by Madeleine L’Engle, is the story of teenager Meg Murry. Meg is transported on an adventure through time and space with her younger brother and friend as they try to rescue her father. When it was originally published in 1963, no publisher knew how to promote it. What is it about “A Wrinkle in Time,” and why is it so controversial 50 years after its publication?

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ELA Middle School

The Story Behind Every Letter A-Z


The characters in our alphabet look the way they do and stand for their unique sounds for a reason. There are many stories behind the letters we use so often. The earliest forms of writing evolved because members of ancient civilizations needed more efficient ways to express themselves. Listen to this story to hear about the origins of individual letters, as well as learn about the connection between shape and meaning in our modern alphabet.

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ELA Middle School

Themes of Belonging: Sandra Cisneros

Culture Fiction Memoir

Sandra Cisneros writes about working class Latino life in America and has won many awards for her writing. She is best known for her book, “The House on Mango Street.” The themes in her writing include the meaning of home, belonging, crossing boundaries and cultural expectations of women. Her new memoir, “A House of my Own,” describes how her own life also reflects these themes. In this interview, she talks about being connected to Mexico and to the United States, and how she hopes to be an ambassador passing between the two cultures. Furthermore, she works to honor the women in her family while also being an independent woman and breaking some cultural traditions. Listen to hear more about how Sandra Cisneros has created a house of her own.

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ELA Middle School

Greek Mythology Summer Camp

Literature Greek Mythology Child Psychology

A series of young-adult novels called “Percy Jackson and the Olympians”, by Rick Riordan, has struck a chord with millions of readers. In the novels, Percy goes to Camp Half-Blood to train with other demigods (the children of gods and humans). He then goes on various adventures involving Greek mythology mixed in with the modern world. Recently, independent bookstores have been running day camps for children, inspired by the fictional camp from Riordan’s novels. Listen to hear about how an actual Camp Half-Blood harnesses Greek mythology to create learning experiences for kids, and about Greek mythology’s continued appeal today.

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ELA High School

The Real Story Behind Shakespeare's Sonnets

Poetry World History I Fiction Writing Romance

William Shakespeare wrote some of the most famous and recognizable love poems of all time, but some historians think that Shakespeare had no intention of publishing these private messages. His sonnets were largely biographical and it is believed they were written to another man. When a collection of these personal sonnets were published by a shady publisher named Thomas Thorpe, Shakespeare tried to stop their distribution. Listen to learn more about Shakespeare’s sonnets and their unwanted publication.

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ELA High School

Homer’s ‘Iliad’ and ‘Odyssey’

Literature Classics

Homer’s poetry has been read both in translation and its original Greek for thousands of years. “The Iliad“ and “The Odyssey“ contain many of the most enduring images and characters in literary history. As time passes, the original texts become more and more distant and the language, even with updated translations, become more daunting. One woman translated these stories, some into music, so that the language is accessible. Listen to hear how a new translation of Homer’s works aim to bring those characters to life for a new generation.

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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


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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