All ELA

Current Event January 25, 2021

Biden Is Inaugurated 46th President of the U.S.

Politics Civics/Government

Joseph Biden was sworn in as America’s 46th president on January 20, 2021. The inauguration ceremony took place at the U.S. Capitol, two weeks after violent extremists stormed the building in an effort to overturn the election. Vice-president Kamala Harris also took the oath of office, making history by becoming the first female vice-president and also the first Black and Asian American. Biden and Harris take office as the country faces extraordinary challenges, including a worldwide pandemic and a deeply divided nation. Listen to hear more about an historic event and how it differed from past inaugurations.

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Current Event January 24, 2021

Weird News: Jewelry Store Owner Holds Treasure Hunt

Community Entertainment Mystery

Listen to hear about a jeweler’s giant treasure hunt in Michigan.

Vocabulary: dramatically, participate

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Current Event January 22, 2021

Debate: Is Big Tech Too Big?

Technology politics

Following the attack on the U.S. Capitol, big tech companies have taken action. Facebook and Twitter shut down the social media accounts of thousands of people involved in the attack, including President Trump, who has been impeached for inciting insurrection. Some say big tech companies have grown too powerful, and should not be able to restrict speech or business transactions. Others point out that private companies have the right to make and enforce their own rules for participation on their sites. Listen to learn more about the power of online giants and then debate: Is big tech too big?

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Current Event January 17, 2021

Weird News: Big Tip for No Service

Health Culture Community

Listen to hear about a coffee shop barista who was generously rewarded for his efforts.

Vocabulary: shame, haul

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Current Event January 21, 2021

Teen Develops Diabetes Management App

Technology Health

A teen diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes created an app to help himself and others manage the disease. Thirteen-year-old Drew Mendelow felt overwhelmed by all the data he had to keep track of as a diabetes patient, like food intake and blood sugar levels. He designed an app to help him, and he’s sharing it with as many other patients as he can. Listen to hear how a teen entrepreneur took action to manage his illness and help others, and learn why one medical professional thinks his efforts will make a positive difference.

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Current Event January 20, 2021

College Athlete Makes History for Women

Gender Sports

As a successful college soccer player, Sarah Fuller knows how to kick. So when her university’s football team needed a kicker for an upcoming game, she stepped in, making history as the first female athlete to play in a Big Five NCAA football game. Before that, Fuller had spent years struggling to overcome injuries. Listen to hear a groundbreaking athlete explain how it felt to join the football team, why she was emotional on game day, and who most inspires her.

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Current Event January 19, 2021

Trump Is Impeached for the Second Time

Politics Democracy U.S. Constitution Branches of Government

A week after the attack on the U.S. Capitol, President Trump was impeached by the House of Representatives for inciting an insurrection, which is a violent uprising against the government. He is the only president in U.S. history to be impeached twice. Ten Republican lawmakers joined Democrats in voting to impeach Trump, indicating more bipartisanship than his last impeachment garnered. The process now moves to the Senate for a trial, although that will not occur until after President-elect Joe Biden takes office. Listen to hear the voices of lawmakers arguing for and against impeachment and reporters considering what might happen next.

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Current Event January 15, 2021

Debate: Should Breakdancing be an Olympic Sport?

Culture Sports

Breakdancing is the latest sport to be added to the Olympic games. Breaking is an athletic dance style incorporating acrobatics, dance moves, and freestyle footwork. It was first performed on New York City streets in the 1970s, typically to hip hop music. Some say becoming an Olympic sport could cause breaking to lose its character as it moves farther away from its urban roots. But it might also inspire a new generation of young breakers. Listen to hear a veteran breakdancer’s response and then debate: Should breakdancing become an Olympic sport?

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Current Event January 14, 2021

The Meaning of Sedition

Politics Law Protest Violence

Rioters who stormed the U.S. Capitol could be charged with sedition, or an attempt to “overthrow, put down, or destroy the government by force.” The mob attacked legislators as they were carrying out a fundamental duty of American democracy: certifying the electoral votes confirming the country’s next president. Although sedition is hard to prove in court, some say that holding violent extremists responsible for their actions will help prevent future attacks. Listen to learn more about the meaning of sedition and how it has been used in the past to prosecute terrorism.

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Current Event October 30, 2019

Birds Are Disappearing

Animals Environment Human Impacts Ecosystems Ecology Conservation

According to a new report, bird populations are generally decreasing throughout North America. Having fewer birds could negatively impact our ecosystems and our lives. However, there are steps we can take to help our feathered friends bounce back. Listen to learn what factors are causing bird populations to decline and some simple steps people can take to help slow the trend.

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ELA

"A Tree Grows In Brooklyn" Based on Author’s Experiences

Class American Literature Classics Writing Process Young Adult Literature

“A Tree Grows in Brooklyn” has been an American classic for 75 years. This novel centers around a poor young Irish girl and her family struggling to make it in Brooklyn. It’s loosely based on the author’s experiences growing up in New York. Listen to find out what middle schoolers think of this celebrated novel and what the author changed when she turned her real life into fiction.

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Current Event January 13, 2021

Why Dogs Don’t Learn More Words

Animals Language

Dogs and humans have long had a special relationship. Part of the reason they get along so well is that dogs can understand human language, at least some of it. But why can’t they learn more? To find out, researchers played words for dogs and observed how their brains responded. Listen to learn what scientists discovered about how dogs learn words and why it’s unlikely they will ever be able to understand Shakespeare.

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ELA

The Mystery of "The Westing Game"

Fiction Children's Literature Mystery

Reading a good mystery is like solving a puzzle. Readers have to pay attention to the characters and events in order to solve the mystery. In The Westing Game, the millionaire Samuel Westing has died, and it is time to read his will. Sixteen people are invited to the reading, and the will reveals that one of them murdered Samuel Westing! Now it is up to the group to determine which one of them did it. Listen to find out more about Samuel Westing’s will and the characters working to solve the mystery.

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Current Event January 12, 2021

How Martin Luther King, Jr. Channeled His Anger

Race Civil Rights Protest Violence Human Behavior

Martin Luther King, Jr. practiced nonviolent protest and advocated for racial harmony. The racism and violence he experienced throughout his life, however, sometimes filled him with rage. King believed anger could be a useful, positive force if it was channeled productively. Listen to hear more about MLK, Jr.’s views on the strong emotion of anger and how he used it to help him accomplish his goals.

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Current Event January 11, 2021

Insurrection at the U.S. Capitol

Politics Protest Violence

Pro-Trump extremists stormed the U.S. Capitol building while Congress was meeting inside to officially count the electoral college votes establishing Joe Biden as the next U.S. president. They broke windows and looted offices, forcing lawmakers to flee to secure locations. Trump has falsely claimed that the election was stolen, and some say his words and actions incited the violence. Lawmakers met later in the day, after the building had been cleared, to finish their work. The insurrection, or act of rebellion against the government, has prompted a shift in support for the president in his final days in office. Listen to hear about a major attack on American democracy and the questions it raises.

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Current Event September 26, 2019

News for Teens, by a Teen

Politics Journalism

Many teens care about what is happening in the world, but they typically hear news from an adult perspective. One California teen is changing that. Fifteen-year-old Olivia Seltzer publishes a daily newsletter in her own voice, targeting issues important to youth. She brings in diverse viewpoints through an editorial team comprising teens from around the world. Listen to hear why one young person gets up at very early every morning to offer her generation an alternative to mainstream news media.

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Current Event October 25, 2019

Debate: Can Social Media Cause Depression?

Technology Health Psychology

A recent study says teens are experiencing increased rates of depression, anxiety, and other serious mental health issues. Although the causes of the trend are not clear, some experts believe hours spent surfing online and using social media have sparked feelings of isolation and anxiety among young people. Others argue the stress stems from teens facing an uncertain future. Listen to experts discuss the roots of this troubling trend and then debate: Can social media cause depression?

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Current Event December 7, 2020

Anniversary of Pearl Harbor

World War II War

On December 7, 1941, Japanese forces bombed a U.S. military base in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. The surprise attack killed more than 2,400 people and damaged the entire fleet of U.S. battleships docked in the harbor. The event drew America into World War II, which lasted until 1945. Listen to hear one of the few remaining survivors of the attack recall the day of the bombing, and learn why he chose not to return to Pearl Harbor to commemorate the event.

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Current Event January 10, 2021

Weird News: Relaxing with Bees

Education Animals Psychology International

Listen to hear about how bees help students at a school in Slovenia reduce stress.

Vocabulary: routine,restless, relax

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Current Event January 8, 2021

Debate: Will Deepfakes Change How People View Media?

Politics Technology Media

A deepfake is a piece of audio or video that has been manipulated to represent something that never actually happened. Created using advanced technology, deepfakes often look and sound so real that it is easy to be fooled by them. Many people worry that deepfakes will cause damage by spreading false information so widely that the truth will be lost. Some are concerned that deepfakes will erode people’s trust in the media, causing them to dismiss truth as fiction. Listen to learn more about media manipulation and then debate: Will deepfakes change how people view media?

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