Topic: Education

Current Event October 23, 2020

Debate: Should Standardized Tests Resume?

Education

When the pandemic hit and schools closed in spring 2020, the U.S. Secretary of Education waived requirements for federal standardized testing in reading, math, and science. Recently, however, she said K-12 testing must resume. Those who support the move say the tests are a crucial tool in identifying students who have lost academic ground during the pandemic and can help to address the achievement gap. Opponents argue that the money would be better spent on other priorities, including collecting data locally much earlier on what kind of support students need. Listen to learn more about the controversy over testing and then debate: Should standardized tests resume?

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Current Event October 22, 2020

Teaching Black History as American History

Race Education U.S. History

High school students in Colorado took a trip that changed the way history is taught at their school. After the group traveled with their principal to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History & Culture in Washington, D.C., they realized that aspects of Black history were left out of their school’s American history curriculum that they thought should be included. Listen to hear the principal explain how the students pushed for change and what effect she hopes the new curriculum will have on teaching and learning.

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Current Event October 11, 2020

Weird News: Dog Receives Honorary Degree

Health Education Animals

Listen to hear about a dog receiving his very own college degree.

Vocabulary: honorary, veterinary, therapy

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Current Event October 2, 2020

Debate: Is Studying America's Flaws Unpatriotic?

Politics Education U.S. History

President Trump is establishing a new commission to promote what he calls “patriotic education.” Trump objects to teachers using resources such as the New York Times’ “1619 Project,” which addresses the history of slavery and systemic racism in America. He suggests that learning about these issues will brainwash students into hating their country and prefers that the curriculum focus on America’s strengths, such as its foundational democratic principles. Many educators believe that students benefit from examining America’s history in all its complexity, including where it has fallen short of the ideals expressed in its founding documents. Listen to hear more about the battle over teaching history and then debate: Is studying America’s flaws unpatriotic?

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Current Event September 25, 2020

Debate: Should Teachers Address Current Events?

Education

The dramatic events of recent months, including a worldwide pandemic, protests over racial injustice, and raging wildfires in the West, are on the minds of students and teachers, and some teachers are incorporating them into the curriculum. They say placing current events in the context of classroom study helps students make sense of the issues and boosts their civic engagement. Others worry that these issues can be polarizing or upsetting and want the classroom to be an escape for students from the drama taking place outside of school. Listen to secondary school teachers explain their views on bringing current issues into the classroom and then debate: Should teachers address current events?

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Current Event September 22, 2020

Increasing Young Voter Turnout

Politics Education

A majority of eligible young voters have not voted in recent elections, but the 2020 presidential election could mark a change in that trend. This year, many young people have become civically engaged, motivated by issues such as racial justice. A nonprofit, nonpartisan organization aims to boost youth activity at the polls. The group sets up voter registration programs in high schools, where students can lead efforts to register their peers. Listen to hear a high school senior explain why she encourages her classmates to vote, and learn why a professor believes civics education needs to change.

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Collection August 7, 2020

Collection: Social and Emotional Learning (SEL)

Health Education Psychology

Social and emotional learning (SEL) is essential to students’ growth, well-being, and success, both academically and personally. CASEL defines SEL as learning to “understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions.” These stories feature the voices of people who are working to develop these important life skills in a variety of circumstances, from being teased in a school hallway to sitting in a prison cell to rowing across the frigid Drake Passage. Their reflections on the challenges and benefits of actively grappling with the everyday dilemmas of being human are heartening, illuminating, and inspiring.

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Current Event July 22, 2020

The Dilemmas of Reopening Schools

Health Education

School leaders across the country are grappling with questions of when and how to reopen schools safely. While there is a shared interest nationwide in kids returning to school buildings, the virus is still widespread in communities across the country. Although kids are less likely to suffer from COVID-19, they may carry the germ back to their families and communities. The CDC’s safety recommendations are challenging for many schools to follow without additional space, staff, and supplies. Listen to school leaders throughout the U.S. discuss their hopes, priorities, and fears as they decide what school will look like in the fall.

This audio story was recorded in mid-July. The news about COVID-19 is changing rapidly and parts of this story may be dated.

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Current Event May 26, 2020

Seniors Prepare for Virtual Graduation

Education Health Human Behavior

To keep students and families safe during the coronavirus pandemic, school leaders are looking for alternatives to traditional, in-person high school graduations. Some are delaying graduation, while others are strictly limiting attendance or moving the ceremony online. As they make their decisions, they struggle to balance safety with the needs and expectations of graduating seniors. Listen to hear what high school seniors are saying about the unexpected changes to graduation rituals, and find out how their opinions swayed one school leader to act.

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Current Event May 22, 2020

Debate: Should Colleges Open in the Fall?

Health Education Business

Colleges and universities around the country have shut down during the pandemic, but many school leaders are considering how they might safely open their doors in the fall. In this audio story, the president of Brown University makes the case that welcoming kids back to campus is crucial, both for students and for the economy. Some, however, believe that the health risks associated with large groups of students living and learning together are too high. Listen to hear a university president describe her vision for an adapted college experience and then debate: Should colleges open in the fall?

This audio story was recorded in late April. The news about COVID-19 is changing rapidly and parts of this story may be dated.

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Current Event May 12, 2020

Kids' Reflections on the Pandemic

Education Human Behavior

The coronavirus pandemic has changed the lives of every American. As schools around the country have closed, students have faced enormous shifts in their routines, social lives, and in how they learn. In this audio story, students in elementary, middle, and high school reflect on their experiences during the pandemic. Listen to hear the voices of kids expressing fears, sharing coping strategies, and explaining what they have come to appreciate.

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Current Event May 4, 2020

The Uncertain Future of School

Health Education

After months of closures due to COVID-19, school officials across the country are considering how schools can be reopened safely. Experts say that social distancing is the key to preventing the spread of disease, although that is especially challenging in crowded classrooms. Other countries have found ways to limit student contact through smaller class sizes, fewer students on the playground, and other strategies that could inform U.S. actions. Listen to hear how the school experience may change in the fall, and learn about some creative strategies for interacting safely.

This audio story was recorded in late April. The news about COVID-19 is changing rapidly and parts of this story may be dated.

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Current Event April 12, 2020

Weird News: Students Design Minecraft School

Technology Education

Listen to hear about how students recreated their school in the virtual building game Minecraft.

Vocabulary: scale model, congregate

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Current Event April 9, 2020

Laptops for Remote Learning

Technology Education Class

With schools around the country closed due to COVID-19, teachers are using technology to help educate kids remotely. However, some students lack access to a computer, making online learning impossible. One school district in California is leveling the playing field by distributing laptops to children from low-income families. Listen to hear a principal describe the joy of seeing students in the computer line, and learn how a high school student has been spending her time at home.

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Current Event March 17, 2020

Schools Closing Around the Country

Education Health Viruses

Leaders in over 30 states have closed schools statewide to help contain the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. Millions of students will be home, and parents and guardians are scrambling to find child care. Children from low-income families who rely on free or reduced-price lunches, and parents who are unable to stay home from work, will face particular challenges. Listen to learn why schools are closing for long periods of time and what politicians are doing to help people affected by the virus.

This audio story was recorded in mid-March. The news about COVID-19 is changing rapidly and parts of this story may be dated.

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Current Event March 3, 2020

Crossing the Southern Border for College

Education International

The high cost of college in California is prompting students to cross the Mexican border in search of affordable options. CETYS, a private university with campuses in three Mexican border towns, currently enrolls over 300 California students. Many live at home and make the short commute across the border each day. Listen to hear CETYS students explain what drew them south for college and how their American friends and family reacted.

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Current Event February 14, 2020

Debate: Should College Admissions Include Adversity Scores?

Education Class

The College Board has dropped the practice of assigning an “adversity score” to college applicants taking the SAT exam due to objections from parents and students. The score was intended to provide college admissions offices with information about economic hardships faced by students. Supporters of the score say it can help colleges understand the challenges faced by low-income applicants compared to their more affluent peers. Opponents argue the score cannot capture the complexities of people’s experience and might be used against poor students. Listen to hear arguments on both sides and then debate: Should college admissions include adversity scores?

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Current Event February 11, 2020

Love Poems from Kids

Education Poetry Creative Writing

Poetry allows writers to express deep thoughts and feelings. In the classroom, it can strengthen bonds between teachers and students by helping them get to know each other better. For Valentine’s Day, poet Kwame Alexander asked teachers around the country to challenge their students to write poems about love. Listen to hear the whimsical, poetic, and practical responses of students of all ages to the prompt, “Love is…”

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Current Event February 7, 2020

Debate: Should Everyone Use the Same Textbooks?

Politics Education U.S. History Censorship

Students around the country may learn different versions of U.S. history depending on where they live. Textbook publishers often customize textbooks for different states in response to political pressure, covering specific topics differently. Some say that this is important because different regions have different populations and different priorities. Others believe that all students in the country should have access to the same information and that variations in textbook content contributes to deepening the political divide. Listen to hear more about how textbooks differ from state to state and then debate: Should everyone use the same textbooks?

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