Tag Archive for critical thinking

Radiolab: Media Literacy and Listening Skills

One of the best ways to employ Radiolab in the classroom is to treat it as a text.  The difficulty?  This text requires students to listen and respond without visuals.  This means a bit of explanation and modeling upfront.

A good opener is a Ted talk by Julian Treasure: 5 Ways to Listen Better.  In under eight minutes Treasure highlights the value of listening and skills to become better listeners.

During the video, have students watch, listen, and take notes on the following questions:

  • Identify two of Treasure’s arguments about modern society and listening.
  • List two things Treasure identifies as making listening difficult.
  • List the ways in which Treasure claims we can become better listeners.

After the video, have students examine Treasure’s arguments again.  Now, have them evaluate via writing and then discussion the validity of these arguments. Read more

Radiolab: Overview


On a Sunday night several years ago, I was held captive by an episode of Radiolab.  The episode, which examines “the line between music and language,” has a particularly engrossing segment about Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring.

Within the segment hosts Robert Krulwich and Jad Abumrad discuss how The Rite of Spring changes in the span of 30 years from a piece that causes audiences to riot, to an accepted form of classical music, to the score for Fantasia.  It’s at that moment that you can clearly see multiple overlapping arguments about society, the role of music, the passage of time, etc. Read more

Novel and Unit Projects: Week in Review

     Friday Dialogue from Your

                                    Two Favorite Educators 

As Emily and Aubrey look back over the week they use their razor sharp wit to assess their innermost feelings about end of the novel projects.

1.  Why do we need to have end of novel or unit assignments?  Why can’t we just let things go?

Emily:  For me, I like to see them comprehend how individual portions of a book correlate to the whole.  Just because a student comprehends chapter one of The Great Gatsby doesn’t mean that they actually understand the whole novel.

Aubrey: I, too, want them to see how all the threads of our study fit together.  I want them to be engaged in their own education, research, critical thought, peer evaluation, etc.  I also want to see if they bring something different to the text than I do.  That’s always the best part of this grueling gig.

Emily:  You have a great point about having the students being engaged in their education, but for that to happen students have to be reflective.  I think the best projects are the ones that allow students choice and control, not ones with 1,000 steps and directives from teachers.  However,  some students are so burnt out with a novel that the only reflection I get from them is “I hate Holden.”

2.  Did you create anything particularly meaningful in an end of novel/unit project?

Emily:  I know I’ve created a lot of videos reenacting scenes from a novel.  The funniest is when I read the book about Patty Hearst and the Symbionese Liberation Army then and created a video in my friend’s wooded backyard.

Aubrey: Patty Hearst?!  Once again I have to say 9th grade English and Romeo and Juliet.  I feel as if those weeks probably were the most memorable of my high school career.   We were given a choice for our end of unit assignment. Construct a cookbook of recipes that Romeo would have enjoyed.  Rewrite the play as a children’s book.  Write a letter to the editor of “weekly newspaper” discussing your dismay at the violence in Verona.  Now honestly, even at this tender age I knew that there was something wrong in those choices.  A children’s book?  Recipes?  No.  I knew what I wanted to be was a journalist.  A serious journalist for the Verona Evening News.  I can’t remember what I said.  I can’t remember how long I spoke.  What can I remember?  The cream colored turtleneck I wore complimented by a vest that looked like a floral tapestry.

Emily:  A cookbook?  Hmm…I wonder what Romeo and Juliet’s last meal would be!

3.  In light of Aubrey’s shameless Charlie Sheen reference on Thursday, what are your thoughts about his current status?

Emily:  Okay, I’m so glad you referenced something from Hollywood.  I feel like our blog is remiss to not mention Arby’s or some celebrity action.  I love Ashton Kutcher and have a hard time hiding myself from all the Ashton hype.  Yeah, I’m a fair-weather fan.  But between his potential divorce from Demi Moore and his addition to Two and Half Men I can’t get enough news about him.  I can’t even focus of Charlie Sheen, who is now the poor man’s Ashton.

Aubrey: Well Ashton Kutcher is no Charlie Sheen but is Charlie Sheen really Charlie Sheen anymore?  I think I read that Two and Half Men still has way too many viewers for the quality of the show and that his TV show Anger Mangagement was still in the works.  Where did I get all of this great information?  Well from TMZ of course.  And Forbes.  Some of the most important sources in the known universe for information.