Tag Archives: Listening

listenwise book review

Monica Brady-Myerov has created a wonderful educational platform that teaches students to improve their listening using audio stories that cover content standards in Science, ELA, and Social Studies. She and her team have refined Listenwise over the years to precisely measure students and their progress at mastering eight key listening skills. With the recent inclusion of the Lexile Framework for Listening, I expect this area to increase in educational importance. California is one of 22 states that assesses listening on their annual tests. Listening is especially important to English Learners who will make up one out of every four public school students by 2025. The combination of reading and listening builds their second language proficiency faster. Students gain confidence with their pronunciation when they hear the words spoken correctly.

Monica describes what she has learned along the way. She covers topics like storytelling, listening skills, how to teach listening, the connections between listening and reading, the benefits of listening for English Learners, assessing listening, and creating podcasts. In short, good listeners become great communicators. Peppered with personal stories, lessons, activities, reflection prompts, and planning tools; this book is a must for all interested in improving their communication skills. The author shines when she elaborates on her life-long love affair with the intimacy of audio and when advising teachers not to underestimate the impact of using their voices to read to students at any age. What does a future driven by voice-activated artificial intelligence sound like? Alexa, Siri, and Google have all read this book and so should you.

Full disclosure: I contributed an educator’s story on p. 174.

When I first started using Listenwise in my classroom, I noticed that almost every high school student would reach for their phone as soon as I hit play on the audio. However, when I prompted them on how important it was to listen intently and with 100% focus, their test scores started soaring. Typically, I read between 30-40 books per year. During the last year, with the pandemic, I learned how easy it was to get distracted and only read 6 books. This shameful fact reveals how dependent I have become on listening to books in the car. This book is already helping me sit down, tune out distractions, and put my focus back on reading every day. Still, I wish there was an audio version.

Outstanding Speech

1389.8 Holocaust C

The speech below was one of 126 delivered in my World History class this spring. The student gave a forceful and emotional reading that enthralled the audience and effectively placed them at the scene of Kristallnacht. At 487-words, this speech took the student 3:47 to deliver. It was a tour de force. I wish more than 40 people had been in my class to witness it.

The Night of Broken Hearts

We went out into the street. The crowd of people became the street, all tripping over each other towards a nearby synagogue, all shouting angrily. We had followed. As we reached the synagogue and halted, silent and angry, we could see at the end of the building, flames rise. The crowd rushed forward and their greedy hands tore seats and woodwork from the building to feed the flames coming from the east of them.

Behind us we heard more shouts. We turned, and saw a part of the mob start along the road to Israel stores. During the days the store’s held granite cubes ostensibly used for repairing roads. Youths, men, and women, screaming deliriously, hurled these blocks of granite through anything glass. Within a few minutes the doors gave away and the indignant mob rushed inside to pillage and loot.

By then the streets were chaotic, filled with bloodthirsty people screaming for the death of Jewish people. A man tried to protect an aged Jewess who had been dragged from her home by a gang. Provided, I pushed my way through to help him and, between us, we managed to heave her through the crowd to a side street and safety.

The center of their hate was a hospital for sick Jewish children, many of them cripples or immobilized. In minutes the windows had been smashed and the doors forced. We arrived when, the swine were driving the wee mites out over the broken glass, bare-footed. The nurses, doctors, and others were being kicked and beaten by the mob leaders.

This was the personal story of Michael Bruce, a non-Jewish Englishman. He had watched this horrid act along with many others would had stood by while it occurred. This event is known as “Kristallnacht,” where Nazis and their supporters in Germany engulfed synagogues in flames, vandalized Jewish homes, schools and businesses, in addition to killing close to 100 Jews, but what had caused this event?

In 1938, Herschel Grynszpan, a 17-year-old Polish Jew learned that the Nazis had exiled his parents to Poland from Hanover, Germany. As retaliation, on November 7, the teenager shot Ernst Vom Rath, a German diplomat in Paris. Rath died two days later, and Hitler attended his funeral. Joseph Goebbels, who was the Nazi minister for public enlightenment and propaganda, immediately seized on the assassination to rile Hitler’s supporters into a rage that would cause a terrifying wrath.

The Night of Broken Glass was the result of that rage. After all these atrocities, little action was taken by neither Europe nor the United States. Even if President Roosevelt instructed that refugees already in the U.S. could stay, that does not excuse the fact that we did NOTHING to stop it.

Therefore, we must honor the people who died. We must honor the people we did not save. We must remember the innocent people whose lives were stolen.

kristallnacht-burning-380

Works Cited

“Kristallnacht Eyewitness Accounts and Reminiscences – Simon Wiesenthal Center Multimedia Learning Center.” Kristallnacht Eyewitness Accounts and Reminiscences – Simon Wiesenthal Center Multimedia Learning Center. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 Feb. 2015. <http://motlc.wiesenthal.com/site/pp.asp?c=gvKVLcMVIuG&b=394831&gt;.

Ballastk, Angela. “Kristallnacht: Background & Overview.” Background & Overview of Kristallnacht. The Holocaust Shoah Page, 2000. Web. 03 Feb. 2015. <http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Holocaust/kristallnacht.html&gt;.

Shirvanian, Armen. “The History Place – World War II in Europe Timeline: November 9/10 1938 – Kristallnacht, the Night of Broken Glass.” The History Place – World War II in Europe Timeline: November 9/10 1938 – Kristallnacht, the Night of Broken Glass. The History Place, 1997. Web. 05 Feb. 2015. <http://www.historyplace.com/worldwar2/timeline/knacht.htm&gt;.

Feedback

I have been experimenting with a robo-grader called PaperRater.  It gives the students immediate feedback on (1) originality, (2) spelling, (3) grammar,  (4) word choice,  (5) transitional phrases, (6) sentence length, and (7) academic vocabulary. This enables the students to shore up any weaknesses in their writing before they give it to me. You can read the report on this speech HERE.