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The United States Constitution is the basis of our laws and structures our government. It contains the founding principles of our nation. Since its creation in 1787, Americans have debated its full meaning, and worked to apply it to new situations that the Founders could never have imagined—certain that this 18th-century document is ready to tell us what to do in the 21st century. Any group trying to make change calls on the Constitution for backup. Listen to learn how the Tea Party is using the Constitution to back its political goals and challenge the Bill of Rights.
Story Length: 5:37
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In Medieval England, British King John was at war with a group of English Barons because he extracted money from them to fight a war with France. To appease the Barons, the king wrote the Magna Carta, which essentially says the King cannot arbitrarily collect taxes from Barons. This revolutionary document, signed in 1215, limited the power of the monarchy and outlined the basic principles of the modern judicial system. The Pope invalidated the document just ten weeks later but its ideas have lived on and served as the basis of portions of the U.S. Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights. Listen to learn how the British library celebrated the 800th anniversary of this revolutionary document.
Thomas Paine was a British essayist and political philosopher in the years leading up to and during the American Revolution. His writings and the pamphlets he published were very popular among American colonists and politicians alike. He took on such ideas as America as universal concept, the supreme importance of liberty, and the proper role of a just government. His essay, “Common Sense,” written less than two years after Paine’s arrival from England, was the single most influential document leading to the Declaration of Independence. This audio story takes a brief look back at this influential writer and contains several passages from “Common Sense.” Listen to learn more about Thomas Paine’s life and ideas, and about how his writings helped inspire a revolution.
“Birthright” citizenship has been a very controversial subject in the United States for quite some time. The 14th Amendment guarantees automatic citizenship to any person born on US soil, but as the immigration debate has escalated over the past decade, there’s been a growing movement to change that provision. Listen to hear how other countries deal with birthright citizenship, and what one sociologist thinks will happen if the US removes that provision.
America’s founding was fraught with conflict. America in 1787-88 was a place of deep political divisions. Much of the root of those divisions was disagreement over how much power should be given to the central government. After the Constitutional Convention, political leaders split between supporters of the Constitution (Federalists) and opponents (Antifederalists). In an effort to sell the new Constitution to the country, three Federalists (James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, and John Jay) wrote a series of arguments, in essay form, we now call the Federalist Papers. These essays were designed to explain the Constitution. Today, they are regarded as America’s greatest contributions to political philosophy as is explained in this audio story.
The Lexile Audio Measure is an indicator of the complexity of an audio passage. It is based on a scientifically developed scale with a maximum score of 2000L.How to Use Lexile Audio Measures
Find stories at the right level of complexity for your students, so that they will be challenged without being frustrated. The measures are categorized into low, medium, or high in order to aid teachers in story selection when they do not know students’ Lexile listening levels.
|Listening Level||Lexile Audio Measures|
These recommended ranges are for instructional use of Listenwise audio content in combination with supports such as the interactive transcript, etc.
|Grade||Lexile Audio Measures (Recommended Ranges)|
|1||215L - 610L|
|2||490L - 855L|
|3||725L - 1060L|
|4||945L - 1250L|
|5||1045L - 1350L|
|6||1125L - 1430L|
|7||1190L - 1500L|
|8||1250L - 1555L|
|9||1300L - 1610L|
|10||1345L - 1655L|
|11/12||1385L - 1695L|