ELA Middle School
"The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian," tells the story of Arnold Spirit, a young Native American who leaves the reservation to get a better education. In this semi-autobiographical book, author Sherman Alexie discusses big issues including choosing your identity, figuring out where you belong and the hardships American Indians face living on reservations.
Current Event May 4, 2016
Colleges and Universities across the state of Texas are providing food pantries in order to keep students from going hungry. Schools don’t want students to skip meals, so they are providing this short-term fix to avoid their students going hungry. Some colleges have considered providing more access to school cafeterias or temporary meal plans for these students. Colleges don’t want to stop recruiting students who come from low income families, but they have had to increase tuition due to a decline in state funding. Listen to hear more about hunger on college campuses.
Current Event March 26, 2014
What does it take to be successful in school and life? Research shows that success is strongly correlated to something called “grit.” Grit combines determination, persistence and resilience. People with grit are able to push through difficulties, learn from mistakes, and pick themselves up and try again when they fail. Schools and teachers are trying to instill grit in their students, but is this possible? Listen to learn more from people who support and challenge this new direction in education.
Current Event May 28, 2015
Suicide on college campuses has been a persistent problem over the last decade. MIT, an elite university in Boston, Massachusetts, recently had a cluster of student suicides on their campus. In response to the tragedies, the MIT community reached out and promoted a conversation among the student body. One student took it upon herself to do more and encourage more student interactions all year round with wristbands that say TMAYD, which stands for Tell Me About Your Day. Listen to learn more about this effort and how it is changing the MIT community.
Current Event March 8, 2016
Some people have trouble staying focused. Many of those people have been diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, known as ADHD. A team at Yale University was able to identify children and adolescents with ADHD by studying certain connections in their brains. This finding adds to the evidence that ADHD is not just a behavioral problem. Listen to hear more about this new research.
Current Event May 25, 2016
The hit musical “Hamilton,” which tells the story of our nation’s first treasury secretary, has captured the attention of audiences around the country. Now, a Hamilton-based curriculum uses the play and its catchy music to teach history. Students have the opportunity to go to the musical, read related historical documents, and create their own projects inspired by the play. These activities help students empathize with important figures from our past and view history from diverse perspectives. Listen to hear more about how “Hamilton” is educating and inspiring students.
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.
ELA Middle School
In 2015, the United States resettled nearly 70,000 refugees as wars and political instability continue to drive people from their home countries. Resettlement isn’t easy for the person coming to a new country. One of those people, Barwaqo Mohamed was born and grew up in Somalia, but came to the U.S. as a political refugee in 2006. In this audio story, Barwaqo talks about her experience as an immigrant with a journalist who volunteered to tutor her in English for over four years. Barwaqo describes herself as a natural at learning languages and that helped her fit in. Listen to the interview to learn how that skill has served her since she came to the U.S.
Current Event May 19, 2016
Teenagers from low-income, immigrant families must overcome challenges in order to graduate from high school. For many new immigrants, work and family can become difficult to balance. These students often work to help support their families, which can take priority over schoolwork. One high school senior has been able to find success despite some difficult circumstances. She helps her family earn money, plays the viola, and is on track to graduate high school. Listen to her story about defying the odds.
Current Event August 25, 2015
Sleep is important for everyone’s health, but it’s particularly important for children and teenagers, whose brains are still growing. Teenagers are biologically inclined to stay up later, resulting in two-thirds of young people being seriously sleep deprived. Lack of sleep can lead to obesity, depression, smoking, drinking, lower grades, and can contribute to car crashes. To prevent these things, health experts recommend that middle and high schools start no earlier than 8:30 a.m. School districts are not following this recommendation, however, as five out of six schools start before then. Listen to more about this ongoing public health issue.
Current Event December 17, 2015
At a high school in Tennessee, a teacher asked his students to go without their phones for 24 hours. He says cell phones are an addiction where there is always something for students to see and something for students to do. He wanted them to see what happened when they lived a day without them. Listen to this story to hear the reaction of the students and how they filled their time without their phones.
Current Event February 24, 2016
In an average school day, student sit for about six hours. More and more research shows that sitting for long periods of time isn’t healthy. A new study shows that high school students increased their activity and sat an hour less every day by using a standing desk. An added benefit was that students who used standing desks also improved their cognitive function and memory. Listen to this story to learn more about the benefits of standing desks for high school students.
Current Event May 11, 2016
President Obama's daughter, Malia, is taking a year off before starting college in the fall. Taking a break from academics the year after high school before starting college is commonly called a "gap year." Although it’s often an option for wealthy families, it’s starting to be a real option for more high school graduates. Colleges are looking for students who have more life experience and independence. Listen to hear more about the benefits of taking a gap year.
ELA Middle School
The United States declared war on Afghanistan in response to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. But Afghanistan had already been a troubled and war torn country for many, many years. In 1996, the Taliban seized control of the country, imposing strict rule over all of its citizens. This story focuses on how the strict rules of society in Afghanistan continue to affect its people--especially children and girls. Listen to this interview with the author of “The Kids of Kabul” and learn more about the challenges faced by Afghan children and women, especially in the area of education.
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 March 15, 2015
The rights of women around the world vary widely. Women in Saudi Arabia have fought for their right to drive, be part of government, compete in the Olympics and, most recently, attend gym class. The school system in Saudi Arabia is divided by gender. Boys schools have long had gym class; a new policy would allow girls schools the same. The reaction within the country has been mixed. Some argue it breaks religious law, others say it is a natural and healthy way for young girls to grow. Listen to hear from women in Saudi Arabia.
Current Event September 18, 2015
Colleges compete to enroll the best students. Traditional admission methods look at SAT and ACT test scores, GPAs and extracurricular activities. Now there is an increasingly popular trend: colleges that tell students the SAT and ACT are optional. They are choosing not to emphasize standardized test scores in their admissions decisions. The hope is that this will diversify enrollment and open doors for underrepresented populations. But there is some evidence that it does not achieve those goals. For example, test-optional colleges may increase their applicant pool but not their enrollment numbers. Listen to hear both sides of this debate.
Current Event March 11, 2016
There are at least 600 schools across the country that have handed iPads to every student. At Burlington High School in Massachusetts, the students are using iPads and not textbooks. The principal states that everything students need for learning can be found on their web-enabled devices. Textbooks are static and publisher-driven, whereas in this school they focus on personalized learning where students frame the coursework. Some say technology should be limited in order to engage students in real world experiences, and that textbooks are an important part of how students learn. Listen to the story of this High School and debate with your students: Are textbooks or tablets better for student learning?
Current Event November 26, 2013
From accents to slang to dialect, people who speak English do not always sound the same. The way people speak reflects a lot of different factors in their lives including region, race, class and education. Some slang is reflective of an era. The word “groovy” will forever be linked to hippies, while other pronunciations reflect a longer history of language, colonization and power. Listen to learn how the pronunciation of the word “ask” has changed over time, and how the black community uses code-switching to adapt to their surroundings.