Cultivating Informed Citizens with Listenwise

As concerns about fake news mount, it’s increasingly important that we expose students to high-quality news stories about current events and encourage them to think critically about those stories.

The more informed our students are about the world around them, the less likely they'll be duped by fake news stories.Click To Tweet So, I was excited to stumble on Listenwise, which is bringing public radio into the classroom.

Listenwise offers educators a growing collection of news stories tagged as ELA, science, or social studies. The audio recordings effectively weave the information into a story that is both interesting and informative.

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The audio recordings of each news story can be played at their normal pace or slowed down for students who need it. This is an easy way to allow students to control the pace of their learning and make accommodations for second language learners.

There are  Listening Comprehension Questions, which I love! It’s so important for students, who are constantly consuming information in the form of audio, to really think about what they are hearing.

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I’ve used Socrative quizzes and space races with my students for years, so I was excited to see that the individual lessons have Socrative quizzes available for anyone to use as a quick assessment tool!

There are, of course, more bells and whistles for schools and districts who pay for the PREMIUM plan, but the basic free version is a wonderful resource to help teacher cultivate informed students prepared to think critically about the news.

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#BLinAction Book Club – Join the Conversation!

Join the conversation on blended learning!

After just two months, there are over 2000 readers engaged in Blended Learning in Action! I am excited to announce the start of our #BLinAction book club discussions to help readers stay connected and share ideas about each chapter. We’ll take a deep dive into one chapter per week.

The book chats will run “slowchat” style with one thought and one question posted per day throughout the week. We hope you’ll join us in these discussions by following #BLinAction and contributing your thoughts, questions, and insights.

We will be sharing the conversation on our website blinaction.com. Thank you for reading and for contributing to this awesome thought cloud around Blended Learning in Action!

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MyShakespeare

I’ve been in love with Shakespeare since college. However, the very thing I love about Shakespeare’s plays–the language–is the exact thing that alienates so many students. The language is foreign and the humor goes over their heads. I’ve tried a variety of techniques to hook my students from having them complete soundtrack projects for the plays to performing the scenes in class. These have helped to engage my students, but I still finding myself spending a lot of time explaining what words, phrases, jokes and put downs mean.

While teaching a course at Stanford this year, I was fortunate to cross paths with the creators of MyShakespeare. This is a fantastic resource for teaching Shakespeare in the digital age. The site is brand new and there are currently 4 plays available–Julius Caesar, Hamlet, Romeo & Juliet, and Macbeth. 

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The site has interactive full-texts of each play complete with footnotes and multimedia resources. Each play includes:

  • Complete audio recordings that emphasize clarity and comprehension
  • Contemporary translations to make the language more approachable
  • Popup notes offering insights into literary devices
  • Animated videos that explore the play and spark further discussion
  • Performances of key scenes to bring the play to life
  • Interview with characters about the events unfolding in the play.

It was clear watching my students navigate the site that they enjoyed listening to the audio recording, reading the modern definitions of archaic words, and engaging with the popups that provide explanations about what is happening in each scene.

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The video interviews with the characters are high quality and entertaining. They provide insight into the characters’ thoughts, feelings, and motivations. These video elements are perfect conversation starters. They are also a great model for any teacher who wants his/her students to role play in order to learn more about the characters.

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If you (or someone you know) is teaching Julius Caesar, Hamlet, Romeo & Juliet, or Macbeth, I’d recommend checking out MyShakespeare! It’s exciting when new, high-quality resources pop up for our favorite texts.

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