Review by Stephanie Trautman, Common Sense Education | Updated February 2015

Listenwise

Bring real-world stories from public radio into the classroom

Subjects & skills
Skills
  • Communication & Collaboration
  • Critical Thinking

Subjects
  • English Language Arts
  • Social Studies
  • English Language Learning
Grades This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
6-12
Common Sense says (See details)
Teachers say (4 Reviews)

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4 images

Pros: Vast range of solid current event info and historical stories from public radio let students make genuine connections.

Cons: Audio-focused site could use a few more videos and images to entice kids used to snazzier visual content.

Bottom Line: A fantastic resource that brings both historical and current event public radio stories into the classroom.

Teachers will be able to search through comprehensive lessons and look at their essential questions and objectives. From there, each lesson contains class activities including a listening guide, discussion guide, vocabulary, and video analysis, as well as individual writing and extension pieces. Links to the public radio stories include transcripts, too. Teachers can check their students’ listening skills by assigning short-answer or multiple-choice Socrative assessments written for specific public radio stories, and the site also connects to StudySync. Great options for the technologically connected classroom! All lessons connect to Common Core standards, which are outlined for each specific lesson. Using the teacher dashboard, educators can see lessons and recent current events, and can assign lessons to their students for individual work, group work, or take-home activities.

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Listenwise is a website filled with public radio stories covering current and historical events. If you’re looking for ways to bring history to students, these stories provide interesting narrative and great music to keep kids engaged. At its core, the site offers language arts, history, and science lessons with great supports for further learning. The range of topics on offer is extensive, including diverse topics like nuclear power in India, GMO foods, and truth in nonfiction.

Teachers can use the site's search features to find suitable assignments for their students. The Premium subscription offers more extensive features for assigning stories to students, but the free version gives teachers lesson plans, activities, and tips for aligning stories to the Common Core State Standards. Some standouts include essential questions and objectives for each lesson, video analysis, and extension activities.

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Kids will be intrigued by these audio stories, particularly the eyewitness accounts of current events and historical stories. This tool hits the spot for kids used to using digital tools to boost experiential learning; the stories are powerful and engaging, and it's easy to navigate the site. Students take an active role in learning about new topics, but for optimal use, the stories should be listened to, and activities should be added along with them. It might also help to supplement the lesson with photos and videos, especially for kids who struggle with listening skills.

The site offers Common Core alignments, but its ultimate aim is to be used as a supplemental tool, not for primary instruction. The stories can be used to build understanding or scaffold lessons within a unit, or can be assigned for individual learning or research. Many stories have ELL supports, and students can choose to listen to any story at an original or slower pace.

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Overall Rating

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?

Students will enjoy the clean look of the site and the activities and connections they can make to other subjects they may study. Stories are concise but packed with relevant, entertaining information that will keep kids interested.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer?

Kids learn through connecting stories to the real world. With teacher guidance and assignments, students delve into essential questions and activities that help them gain deeper understanding beyond the story's plot.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students?

There are currently ELL supports available for some stories, but not all; the developer indicates that this feature will be more broadly applied to the site in the future. The Socrative connection is solid, helping reinforce ideas.


Common Sense Reviewer
Stephanie Trautman Classroom teacher

Teacher Reviews

(See all 4 reviews) (4 reviews) Write a review
Featured review by
Anabel G. , Classroom teacher
Classroom teacher
Lake Norman High School
Mooresville, NC
Enhances Listening, But Reinforces Reading, Writing and Speaking - Great Tool!

Listen Current is extraordinary. The resources provided in each unit provide numerous options for length and depth of teaching and learning. The scaffolds are helpful to ELLs at various levels and topics generate rich discussions while stretching their language and cognitive abilities. While I sometimes supplement the unit with materials and/or activities from other sites, Listen Current's premium version will provide enough resources to cover a topic in depth complete with detailed lesson plans. I think both new teachers and veteran teachers alike would enjoy using it. My only hesitation is the price for the premium version. Some schools may not find it affordable. However, I still highly recommend trying out the free version to enhance social studies, English language arts and science classes.

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