Current Event October 20, 2017
Middle and high school students can spend a lot of time on their phones. Teens use technology to communicate and share information and a new study by the Pew Research Center finds this is helping teens be more creative and collaborative. But many teachers say students are taking shortcuts to writing and finding it difficult to understand longer material. Listen to this story and then debate: Does technology help or hurt writing skills?
Current Event September 29, 2017
Teens who vandalized an historic black schoolhouse in Virginia got an unusual sentence. The teens pled guilty to spray-painting swastikas and lewd symbols on the building. Instead of jail time, the judge ordered them to visit the U.S. Holocaust Museum and read books written by black, Jewish and Afghan authors and write essays about them. Listen to this story and then debate: Can consequences change the way students think?
Current Event September 28, 2017
Houston, Texas is recovering from Hurricane Harvey and students were delayed in going back to school. Many students are staying in shelters and teachers are volunteering to provide learning opportunities to children who were traumatized or displaced by the hurricane. One special education teacher created a group of educators called Teachers Volunteering in Shelters to help these students. Listen to hear more about these volunteers.
Current Event September 21, 2017
More and more trash is being recycled instead of going into a landfill, but we are not very good at sorting out what is not recyclable. There are 400-500 tons of recycling that come into one facility in Rhode Island each day. In the pre-sort area, workers stand at the conveyor belt and remove anything that isn’t recyclable, especially items that will get tangled in the machinery. Some people are still confused about what can be recycled, such as plastic bags or kitchen knives. Listen to this story to hear about the types of trash at a recycling facility and the steps workers and agencies are taking to solve this problem.
ELA Middle School
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.
Current Event September 14, 2017
The cafeteria can be a scary place when you do not have a place to sit. Natalie Hampton, an 11th grader, has created an app to help students avoid this feeling. The “Sit with Us” app helps students find “open lunches”, which are tables with students willing to have people they don’t know join them. Listen to hear about how Natalie Hampton took her lunch time struggles and created an app to save students from facing public rejection in the cafeteria.
Current Event September 12, 2017
Going to college is a dream for many people. Alex Gutierrez is a 16-year-old junior at International Leadership of Texas high school, and would like to go to college and study criminal justice to become an FBI agent or a police detective. Her mother also has hopes for Alex to be successful. But finding and applying for college can be overwhelming. Listen to hear about the fears and hopes of Alex as well as her mother, about going to college. This story from KERA also has resources that can provide more information about the process.
Current Event September 7, 2017
Minecraft has become one of the largest and fastest growing games of all time. It is a game of free realm, allowing people to build whatever they please, with creativity and innovation. Unfortunately, not everyone has equal access to Minecraft as it is costly to have all the equipment. One non-profit group is helping to provide access to a wider audience of future coders. Listen to hear about how this Minecraft camp exposes young kids to a future where creativity and computer science collide.
Current Event September 5, 2017
Humans and baby birds appear to be very different creatures, but scientists are studying certain birds because they learn their songs in a similar way that humans learn speech. A new study from University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center has shown similarities between how both species develop language. Listen to the lead scientist as he explains how a network of neurons in the brains of zebra finches could provide insight into how humans learn to speak.
ELA High School
Writing college application essays can be stressful. Some companies are trying to help applicants through the process by analyzing essays of admitted students, gathering data, and offering targeted advice. But one college counselor cautions that sometimes, trying to follow these tips can lead students astray. Instead, she hopes that students will look to themselves for inspiration and write essays using their own voice. Listen to hear more about how students can stay true to themselves as they write college essays.
Current Event August 17, 2017
The youngest recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize is 20-year old Malala Youzafzai, a Pakistani girl who was shot by the Taliban for going to school, has campaigned tirelessly for girls’ rights to education. Youzafzai recently finished high school in England and is looking forward to not only continuing her own education, but ensuring access to education for girls in regions of the Middle East that are undergoing political and societal chaos. Listen to learn more about her struggle to stay optimistic in the face of overwhelming adversity.
Current Event June 7, 2017
Chronic stress and lack of sleep seem to be the new normal for American teens. Most teens are not getting the 9-10 hours of sleep a night that their bodies require. As a result, some schools are purchasing nap pods—reclining chairs with a dome that blocks out light. The idea is that students can use the pods for 20-minute periods of rest and relaxation. These naps can boost memory and attention and help students perform throughout the day. Listen to learn more about the challenges facing modern teens and how nap pods can help.
Current Event May 26, 2017
A fidget spinner has two or three paddle-shaped blades attached to a central core. Kids hold it by the core and flick the blades to make it spin. Fidget spinners are popular in elementary and middle schools. They can be an effective calming influence and can help some students concentrate. They can also become airborne and create distractions to others who are trying to focus. Teachers have to decide whether to allow or ban them in their classrooms. Listen and then debate: Should fidget spinners be allowed in classrooms?
Current Event May 25, 2017
Some high schools give special recognition to students who can speak and read in two languages. At graduation, these students receive a bi-literacy seal on their diplomas that recognizes not only test scores but also the value of learning two languages. This distinction shows appreciation for cultural perspectives and celebrates diversity, along with making these students ready to succeed in a global environment. Listen to learn more about this new movement to honor fluency in a second language.
Current Event April 27, 2017
Student reporters for a Kansas high school paper uncovered that their new principal put misleading credentials on her resume. As a result of this investigation, the principal has been forced to resign. Now, journalists around the country are praising these student reporters for their detailed and conscientious investigation. Listen to learn more about the controversy and the investigative work of these high school students.
Current Event March 31, 2017
Howard Zinn is best known for his book, “The People’s History of the United States” in which he reveals the United States’ long history of war, invasion, and human rights violations. A lawmaker in Arkansas has introduced a bill to ban the writings of historian Howard Zinn from schools in the state. Some people view Zinn’s work as an important insight into the negative aspects of U.S. history, while critics say that it is anti-American. Listen to hear more about Zinn’s perspective on United States history and an Arkansas educator’s views on the proposal to ban Zinn’s books from schools. Listen and then debate with your students: Should some books be banned?
Current Event February 28, 2017
ISIS has been pushed out of the eastern part of the Iraqi city, Mosul. Under ISIS control, children in Mosul were not able to go to school. Now, schools in Mosul are beginning to reopen. In the years that schools were closed, students fell behind in their education. But recently teachers have returned to work, although they haven’t been paid, and schools are still without heat or electric light. Listen to learn more about how the Education Ministry in Mosul is working to rebuild the city’s school system.
Current Event January 6, 2017
China is working to improve its public education by focusing on sparking curiosity and encouraging students to think independently. Traditionally, the focus was on gathering knowledge, passing tests and following orders. Now, students in some schools do their own research and discuss their ideas, which is helping to improve student achievement. In a country where Chinese authorities traditionally assign students’ college majors and jobs, these changes in the education model will help students think for themselves and also thrive in Chinese society.
Current Event October 14, 2016
Implicit racial bias has been discussed in recent police shootings, preschool suspensions, and in both the presidential and vice-presidential debates. Unconscious attitudes or stereotypes can lead us to draw conclusions about each other that are sometimes opposite of what we consciously think or believe. In this study on bias, over one hundred preschool teachers looked for disruptive behavior in some children more than in others. Listen to hear how race and empathy are involved in how children are viewed, and debate whether you think everyone has a bias.