Current Event December 7, 2013
The works of American author Mark Twain are widely studied, but the man behind this famous pen name is less understood. Samuel Clemens was born in a small Missouri town and through challenges, travels and adventures he became and created Mark Twain. This self-educated “border ruffian” became a successful and famous “Connecticut Yankee” by combining his life experiences, sense of humor and renowned writing talents. Listen to learn how the life of Samuel Clemens created the Mark Twain we know and love.
Current Event October 12, 2015
Columbus Day celebrates an event from 1492, but it didn’t become a U.S. Federal holiday until over 400 years later. Some people think it shouldn’t be a holiday at all. To some, Columbus did not “discover” America. Instead he represents the beginning of European colonization of America. Some states and cities across the United States are renaming Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples Day and celebrating Native American tradition and culture. Listen to this interview with advocates who pushed Minneapolis to rename this holiday.
ELA High School Medium ELL
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 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 Students have the opportunity to go to the musical, read related historical documents, and create their own projects inspired by the play.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 February 10, 2016
Traditions and history are important, but in some places that is being set aside if they are seen as offensive. A college in western Massachusetts is named after the town of Amherst, and their mascot is Lord Jeffrey Amherst who was a British General during the French and Indian War. Some say the General is an example of hate and discrimination because he called for giving blankets with smallpox to Native Americans. Some say he was a hero because of his military service. Listen to hear more about how this man’s history has entered into the debate over a college mascot.
Current Event January 21, 2016
The smash hit Broadway musical "Hamilton" mixes hip-hop with American history and features a multiracial cast. The songs celebrate the founding fathers of the United States, primarily how Alexander Hamilton created the foundations of America's modern economy. Listen to this story to hear about how the musical accurately portrays Hamilton’s accomplishments.
Current Event August 26, 2015
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the Mormon Church) has recently provided detailed explanations for how their scriptures were translated. This is the first time the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has published images of the seer stone, the stone that founder Joseph Smith used to translate the scriptures in the 1820s. The Mormon Church has said it wants to be more open about the origin of their religion, and is providing full-color photographs of the seer stone. Listen to hear more about these new church documents that were recently released.
Current Event June 25, 2015
Why do Americans celebrate Independence Day on July 4th? John Adams himself thought that July 2nd would be the day Americans celebrated independence but he was wrong. What happened on July 4th to mark such an occasion? This story explores the origins of Independence Day and examines the issues of slavery and immigration in the early days of the United States.