Find Public Radio Programs By Topic


I spend a lot of my busy time (dishes, laundry, cleaning…) listening to podcasts, many of which are produced by the excellent National Public Radio. The wealth and breadth of the coverage means that programs are often relevant to the classroom, but finding specific content can be a difficult task. Listenwise (previously known as Listen Current) is an excellent educational website which lets you find public radio programs by topic and tie them to your curriculum.

Carl Kasell on NPR

Carl Kasell on NPR, Chicago Tribune 2014

Search Public Radio Audio Database

Engaging your students with videos taken from YouTube has never been easier. Finding relevant audio programs is a more complicated affair. Listenwise fills the gap between the radio show and schools by providing a centralized point to access public radio podcasts on a variety of topics.

Add Public Radio to Your Lessons

Add Public Radio to Your Lessons

Searching through the vast list of radio broadcasts is easy thanks to a tagging system based on:

  • Subjects: ELA, Social Studies and Science;
  • Language Challenge: Low, Medium and Highl
  • Grade Level: Middle and High School;
  • Type: Lesson Plan and Current Events;
  • Topics: Civics, Life Science, US History, Geography, Health, Ancience Civilzation, Environment, Psychology, etc.

This organization combined with an effective website design make it very easy to find a resource which connects George Orwell’s Animal Farm to modern day China for example.

In order to listen to a show, you will need an account. Creating an account is free for teachers and you can use your Google credentials. Once logged in, you can click on the player to listen to the show from the page. You will also gain access to further features.

Create Comprehension Quiz

Short comprehension questions are included on each podcast page. Another piece lets you assess your students in a much better way though. My favorite feature of Listenwise is the ability to import pre-built comprehension quizzes into Socrative’s interactive system. We previously featured Socrative as a great way to poll your students. Thanks to the codes shared on Listenwise’s audio program’s page, you can have your students follow-up on their listening session with an interactive assessment in the form of a short answer or a multiple choice quiz.

Socrative Quiz Based on Public Radio Program

Socrative Quiz Based on Public Radio Program

For our sample story on carbon and climate change, using the code “SOC-1070409” into our Socrative account imports an already made multiple choice quiz with 4 questions. Sharing this quiz with students, gathering answers and analyzing comprehension is very straight forward.

Citing your Sources

More challenging is the fact that Listenwise does not link back to the original content. Possibly because they are trying to protect the monetization of their premium features, the references to a radio show are not hyperlinks, when they are at all listed. This is probably the biggest pitfall of Listenwise. Although it is not difficult to find the source by doing a quick search with the title of the piece, this lack of transparency is troubling for an educational website.

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