Follow This Blog: RSS feed
Neverending Search
Inside Neverending Search

Listen Current: Leveraging public radio for learning

If, like me, you are a victim of the paralysis of driveway moments . . .

If you are a devoted public radio listener who appreciates the power of quality journalism, the engagement of nonfiction storytelling, and the drama of the real voices you hear, and you always wish you could share that story you just heard with your students or a specific teacher, Listen Current is for you.  You’ll want to introduce it to your students and teachers across the disciplines.

It’s long been a challenge to find, refind, mine and curate radio stories and to efficiently integrate them into curriculum.

Listen Current does the thoughtful, heavy lifting, making it easy to bring authentic voices and engaging non-fiction stories to the classroom, curating the best of public radio to keep teaching connected to the real world and build student listening skills at the same time. The platform offers access to carefully selected and curated daily current events as well as teacher resources–listening guides, vocabulary, related current events, discussion themes, and suggested class activities.

The wide array of standards-aligned lessons may be searched as a whole, or browsed by CCSS Standard or content area connection: Social Studies, Science, or ELA and further filtered by middle or high school level and subject tags.

Pre-made Socrative assessments and codes are attached to lessons.

current events


recent lesson

In a post for edSurge, founder, CEO and public radio reporter, Monica Brady-Myerov lamented that students are missing out on the type of fact based, objective, compelling stories produced by public radio.

Her pet peeve is that

auditory learning is overlooked in the classroom . . . [W]hen you think about the skills students will need to succeed in a career, it all comes down to listening. Does your boss give you a video game to play when she is conducting your performance review?  Or a video to watch while you are brainstorming a marketing strategy? 

Brady-Myerov points to the Common Core’s anchor standard of Speaking and Listening and its focus on nonfiction and informational literacy.  And she lists five compelling reasons for sharing radio, rather than other formats, with learners:

1. Evocative Writing: When you have no pictures to show your readers what you are talking about, radio reporters must rely more on carefully chosen words that allow listeners to form pictures in their minds. In this profile of a politically active 11-year-old, the words bring the main character to life. Listening is a great mode of delivery for informational “texts”. Public radio stories can be a great example of spoken academic language.

2. Emotion: Both print and radio reporters interview people for their stories. But only in radio do you hear how someone sounds when they voice their thoughts or opinions. You can hear if they are angry, sad or scared. This gives students a powerful connection to the speaker. In this look at unequal policing the emotion is raw and clear.

3. Pacing: Radio announcers use techniques in their voicing that keep you listening. They create drama with their voice. They speed up or slow down to guide your ear through the story. This story takes you to a little league watch party in Chicago, and its artful pacing keeps you engaged and wanting more.

4. A Sense of Place: Audio stories often take the listener into the story with ambient sound that makes you feel like you are in a different place. A story about antibiotics and chickens starts in a hatchery where little chicks are peeping.

5. Length: In under 5 minutes, public radio stories give students lots of the background they need to understand the story. But they also leave them wanting more, asking questions. And that’s where we want, right? Wanting more. In just four minutes students can get an overview of the Scottish independence referendum and consider how this will impact Scotland’s future.

While sign-up and access the stories and teacher resources is free, Listen Current is looking for teachers interested in beta testing a premium version that will include transcripts, online graphic organizers, differentiation strategies, a teacher dashboard offering the ability to create assignments and metrics to track student progress, the ability to edit questions and assignments.   To volunteer to offer feedback, write to at



Joyce Valenza About Joyce Valenza

Joyce is an Assistant Professor of Teaching at Rutgers University School of Information and Communication, a technology writer, speaker, blogger and learner. Follow her on Twitter: @joycevalenza

Speak Your Mind