ELA Middle School
Walt Whitman was an American poet, teacher, and journalist who was born in the early 1800s. His poetry shattered the literary conventions of his time and helped redefine the rules for modern American verse. Although highly unconventional, Whitman still had a strong sense of national pride and was deeply affected by the events of the Civil War. Although he never fought in the war, he visited recuperating union soldiers and helped them write letters to their loved ones. Listen to learn more about how Whitman helped Civil War soldiers.
ELA High School
Published in 1852, Harriet Beecher Stowe’s anti-slavery novel “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” changed the way Americans viewed slavery and was a driving force that steered the political direction of the country during the 1850s as well. For many Americans, the characters in the novel are familiar, although their names have taken on new and unexpected meanings, and the novel’s theme still resonates today. Listen to learn more about the cultural impact of “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” in America and discover Harriet Beecher Stowe’s inspirations for writing the novel as well as how the novel still reminds us of what “freedom” means today.
Current Event August 24, 2017
Recently violence broke out in Charlottesville, Virginia after a rally held by white nationalists became violent when they clashed with counter demonstrators. One woman was killed. The white nationalists were in Charlottesville to protest the city’s plan to remove a statue of Robert E. Lee. The clash has raised tensions around the country about what to do with monuments honoring Confederate figures. One city, Richmond, Virginia has a rich history when it comes to the early development the United States. It had a massive slave marketplace and a strong Confederate Army during the Civil War. Listen to hear a discussion of the history and fate of Confederate statues.
Current Event June 2, 2017
The mayor of New Orleans, Louisiana removed four Confederate statues from the city to ease controversy of how the city remembers the Civil War. He made a speech at the fourth and final removal of a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee. Some saw these statues as symbols of white supremacy and of the systemic oppression of human beings, and some saw them as tributes to Confederate heroes. Listen to learn more about the statue removal in New Orleans and its place in the nationwide debate about the removal of symbols of the Civil War and then debate: Should Confederate statues from the past be removed?
Current Event April 4, 2017
Since the start of the civil war in Syria in 2011, the neighboring country of Jordan has taken in more than 650,000 Syrian refugees. Many of these refugees were farmers in Syria and are leaving behind their ancestral land. Only one in 10 Syrian refugees in Jordan live in camps, the rest live mostly in cities. For farmers, city and camp life is a difficult transition, so many gravitate towards farms in Jordan where they live and work as migrant laborers. Listen to learn more about Syrian farmers living in Jordan and the effect of migration on their families.
ELA High School
When “The Red Badge of Courage” was published in the 1890s, 30 years after the U.S. Civil War, it was one of the first novels to address the psychological effects of combat. The book’s central character is Henry Fleming, a teenager who joins the Union Army with high hopes of glory and adventure. The realities of war soon hit, and Henry must juggle the conflicting emotions of fear, pity, envy, pride, outrage, and eventually, courage. Listen to learn more about a book many consider a coming-of-age novel, while others question whether war is the best way to turn a boy into a man.
Current Event November 17, 2016
More than 65 million people around the world have been forced to leave their homes. These refugees are fleeing violence, persecution and natural disasters in their countries. The journey is often dangerous. Doctor’s Without Borders, an international humanitarian aid organization, created an exhibit to help Americans understand what it’s like to be a refugee. Listen to hear how visitors reacted to this experience.
Current Event October 18, 2016
In Colombia, there has been fighting between the Colombian Government, rebel groups and other factions for over 50 years. FARC, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, a rebel guerrilla group, remains in control of some remote areas of the country but has not gained significant political power. An historic peace deal signed by Colombia’s President and the FARC leader was expected to end decades of hostility. Colombia’s President was even recognized for his efforts with a Nobel Peace Prize. But when the deal was put to a popular vote, it was rejected by a narrow majority. Listen to hear more about this conflict and reasons why Colombian voters rejected the deal.
ELA High School
In this story Ishmael Beah, author of "Radiance of Tomorrow" and "A Long Way Gone," is interviewed about his experience as a child soldier in Sierra Leone. He talks about his understanding of the effects of war on his country. Beah describes the lessons of war, the impact fighting has on nature, as well as the resilience of his people. Listen to learn more about Beah’s harrowing but inspirational story.
Current Event October 5, 2015
Russia and the U.S. are conducting airstrikes in Syria, with the agreed target of ISIS. However, Russia has launched 20 airstrikes on other targets besides the terrorist group. The U.S. Defense Secretary said the strikes were expected, but to some, the targets may be a surprise. Russia is said to have targeted rebels who oppose Syrian President Assad, a Russian ally but no friend of the United States. The Defense Secretary said this development may prolong the civil war and drive Syrians toward ISIS. With both Russia and the U.S. conducting air operations in the same country, errors or mistakes are likely. This week, Russia and the U.S. will hold talks to make sure both sides’ pilots do not harm each other during the bombings. Listen to hear more about this developing conflict.
ELA High School
Herman Melville’s classic American novel “Moby-Dick” tells the story of whaling captain Ahab’s quest to kill the white whale Moby-Dick. This somewhat simplistic plot retelling misses the thematic and historical undertones of this massive novel. The novel was a critical and commercial failure when it was released in 1851 but experienced a resurgence after World War I. Listen to learn about the writing of “Moby-Dick” and how Melville was influenced by the works of Nathaniel Hawthorne and Shakespeare, as well as the tensions of pre-Civil War America.
Current Event July 7, 2015
In June a 21-year-old white man entered a historic black church in Charleston, South Carolina, attended the bible study, and then shot and killed nine of the black church members. The alleged shooter was later identified as Dylann Roof, a self proclaimed white supremacist who photographed himself with a Confederate flag and hoped to start a race war. Listen to this story to learn how the attack has reignited the debate about the role of the Confederate flag as a symbol of Southern heritage.
Update: South Carolina Governor signed a bill that removes the Confederate battle flag from the Capitol grounds on July 9, 2015.
Current Event May 24, 2015
Memorial Day is traditionally the weekend that heralds the start of summer barbeques, sandals and vacations. But the day has somber roots in the Civil War as Decoration Day, a day to remember Union and Confederate soldiers who died in the war. Today all soldiers who died in combat are remembered on Memorial Day, including one young soldier who was killed in Afghanistan in October 2010. Listen to learn more about the history of Memorial Day and how this loss changed the meaning of Memorial Day for one family.
Current Event January 23, 2014
Since the Syrian Civil War began, more than 2 million people have fled the country. Half of the Syrian refugees are children. A majority of Syrians have crossed borders into neighboring countries in the Middle East. Listen to this story to hear about a seventeen-year old Syrian refugee in Lebanon that must now support his family.
Current Event December 8, 2013
Outlaw Jesse James and his gang have become synonymous with the Wild West and horseback outlaws of the era, but the story behind his actions is far more complex. James and other members of the James-Younger Gang were Confederate guerrillas, known as Bushwhackers, before and during the Civil War. At the end of the war ex-Confederates were on the losing side and suffered the consequences. Disenfranchised and numb to violence after what they had witnessed during the war, they sought justice and revenge from the winners of the war. Listen to learn more about the life and exploits of these well-known outlaws.
Current Event December 2, 2013
Herman Melville’s classic American novel “Moby-Dick” tells the story of whaling captain Ahab’s quest to kill the white whale Moby-Dick. This somewhat simplistic plot retelling misses the thematic and historic undertones of this massive novel. The novel was a critical and commercial failure when it was released in 1851 but experienced a resurgence after World War I. Listen to learn more about the writing of “Moby-Dick” and how Melville was influenced by the works of Nathaniel Hawthorne and Shakespeare as well as the tensions of pre-Civil War America.