All ELA

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Current Event December 15, 2017

Debate: Should Suspension Be In School or Out of School?

Education

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?

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ELA Middle School

Low

The Meaning of the Oxford Comma

Writing Process Language

Whether or not to use the “Oxford comma” is a big debate among grammar lovers, journalists, and English teachers. The controversial punctuation mark appears at the end of a series, right before “and” or “or.” Recently, the Oxford comma came into the spotlight during a lawsuit about overtime pay. A close look at the law revealed that its punctuation, or lack thereof, made possible two entirely different interpretations. Listen to hear more about how one missing comma could cost a dairy company millions of dollars.

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ELA Middle School

Tracing Steinbeck’s Travels

American Literature Classics

John Steinbeck took a 11,000-mile journey across the United States with his dog, Charley, and then wrote about it in the book, “Travels with Charley”. He wanted to answer the question: “What are Americans like today?” Recently, a journalist retraced Steinbeck’s steps from Sag Harbor, New York through Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Vermont, and then straight to the northernmost part of Maine. He used Steinbeck’s "Travels with Charley" as a guide, and discusses his travels and the challenges he has faced while trying to accurately follow Steinbeck’s route. He also discusses the differences and surprising similarities between Steinbeck’s trip and his own, focusing on the places he has visited, the people he has encountered, and the technology he uses along the way.

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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

The Legacy of Ray Bradbury

Science Fiction

Ray Bradbury was one of the greatest imaginative writers of the last 100 years. His stories and novels showed us the promise and wonder of traveling the stars in books such as “The Martian Chronicles” and “R is For Rocket.” But just as often as Bradbury’s fiction looked outward, the future and the cosmos, it also turned its powerful eye inward, peering into the human condition in books such as “Fahrenheit 451” and “Something Wicked This Way Comes.” His written works continue to influence and inspire people from filmmakers to astronauts. This story offers a brief profile of Bradbury on the occasion of his death in 2012. Listen to learn more about Ray Bradbury and how his stories have influenced others.

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Fighting injustice through literature

ELA Middle School

Fighting Injustice in 'The Book Thief'

Religion Fiction World War II war Historical Fiction Young Adult Literature Censorship

The novel "The Book Thief" is narrated by Death. He tells the story of a young German girl saving books from Nazi bonfires to read to the Jewish man hiding in her home. But the novel was actually written by author Markus Zusak. In this public radio story, he explains his choice of Death as the narrator, and the message he hopes teenage readers get from the novel.

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ELA Middle School

Anne Frank’s Father Attempted to Emigrate

Immigration Memoir

Anne Frank’s diary of her family’s life in hiding from the Nazis is one of the most famous accounts of World War II. Less known is how her father, Otto Frank made many attempts to get his wife and two daughters, Margot and Anne, out of Nazi Germany to safety. In 2005, several letters and documents written by Otto Frank were discovered. Despite the support of several wealthy and powerful friends in the United States, he was unable to acquire the necessary visas. The U.S. was making it more and more difficult for immigrants to enter the country and, after Germany declared war on the U.S., Cuba rescinded the visas it had originally offered. Listen to learn more about the powers that kept the Frank family in Europe, where they were eventually discovered, arrested and almost all murdered by the Nazis.

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Current Event December 8, 2017

Debate: What is a Parent's Role on the Sidelines of Kids’ Sports?

Sports

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?

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Current Event December 6, 2017

Crisis Intervention Via Text Message

Technology Psychology

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.

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ELA Middle School

The Story Behind Every Letter A-Z

Writing

The letters 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 as members of early civilizations invented efficient ways to express themselves. Listen to this story to hear about the origins of individual letters, and connections between shapes and meaning in our alphabet.

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ELA Middle School

Low

Jane Goodall Gets Up Close with Animals

Life Science

Jane Goodall is a well known advocate for ecological preservation. Her book "Hope for Animals and Their World" is about her experiences rescuing endangered animal species all over the world. She makes the case for not only saving cute animals like chimpanzees but for preventing rare plants and insects from dying out because it’s vital for sustainability and the proliferation of all kinds of life. Listen to learn more about her experiences with species near extinction and preserving entire ecosystems on our planet.

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ELA High School

Low

How ‘Anna Karenina’ Inspired Empathy

Literature Psychology

Two men imprisoned in Somalia began tapping messages to each other through a thick wall. One man had Leo Tolstoy’s novel “Anna Karenina”. Because they were forbidden to talk, one man tapped the story out on the wall, letter by letter, to the other man. The more the other man heard of the novel, the more he understood his own situation and feelings and ultimately, how to get through one of the most difficult experiences of his life. Listen to this story about how a book can inspire empathy and change your life.

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ELA Middle School

Low

Color in Children’s Literature

Race Education Children's Literature

Many of the characters in books written for children 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 hear what actions this girl decided to take to promote diverse books in schools.

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ELA High School

"The Blind Side" and the Offensive Left Tackle

Literature Sports

Typically in the National Football League it’s all about the quarterback. But that is not the case in “The Blind Side”, a book about American football and the position of offensive left tackle. The author argues that the previously underappreciated position is vital to the game today. Incorporated into the story is offensive left tackle Michael Oher, who grew up in poverty, was adopted, and then played college football. Lewis traces the evolution of this pivotal position and explains how contracts and cash have shaped football. Listen to learn more about the author, American football, and the real-life story of Michael Oher.

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ELA High School

Mark Twain and Samuel Clemens

American Literature

Samuel Clemens became famous as an author under his pen-name, Mark Twain. As one of the most famous American authors of his time, Twain is well known for his biting sense of humor and keen sense of observation. As Samuel Clemens, though, his life was complex and tumultuous, often directly contradicting the things his alter ego said in books and articles. Listen to find out how one of America’s greatest novelists lived, and how that may have informed his writing.

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ELA Middle School

Low

Discussing Kindness with ‘Wonder’

Literature Empathy

The novel “Wonder” tells the story of a fifth grade boy with a facial deformity who enrolls in school for the very first time. In this audio story, the author, Raquel Jaramillo (a.k.a., R.J. Palacio) shares the incident that first prompted her to write the novel. She discusses how the boy, Auggie, struggles to feel ordinary in the face of extraordinary reactions. Listen to learn more about this novel and how the choices we make can have a lasting impact.

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ELA Middle School

Reading ‘Harry Potter’ and Developing Empathy

Literature Psychology

"Harry Potter" is a series of fantasy novels written by British author J. K. Rowling. The novels chronicle the life of a young wizard, Harry Potter, and his friends and teachers. It turns out that the boy wizard can also have an effect on the real world. According to a recent study, reading "Harry Potter" books could have an effect on empathy and the attitudes of readers. Listen to find out how J.K. Rowling’s work might make a real difference to its readers.

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ELA High School

Shakespeare in Every Country

Classics European Literature Plays

Shakespeare’s classic play "Hamlet" has been performed many hundreds of times since its original performance in 1609. In honor of Shakespeare’s 450th birthday, the touring company from the Globe Theater in England planned an ambitious tour, performing one of the bard’s greatest tragedies in every nation on Earth over two years. They chose the play “Hamlet” and performed it in 197 countries. Listen to learn how they planned to accomplish this monumental task, and what the world can learn from “Hamlet.”

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Current Event November 22, 2017

Saving the Thanksgiving Turkey

Animals Culture

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.

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Current Event November 14, 2017

Dads at School

Education Psychology KERA

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.

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