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Curriculum Organization Partners With NPR to Offer More Classroom Audio

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National Public Radio and an organization founded by a former public radio journalist are teaming up to bring more NPR segments into the classroom.

The main goal of the partnership between NPR and Listen Current, a Brookline, Mass.-based curriculum provider, is to help teach students how to become better listeners.

"It's a retro skill, but the one skill you really need in life is listening," Monica Brady-Myerov, the founder and CEO of Listen Current, said in an interview. The NPR stories and segments are used "to build critical listening skills," she said.

Listen Current already offers audio from NPR and other public radio sources for use by teachers, who have used them not just to build their students' listening skills but to help English-language learners and others who need a boost with language literacy, and as topical resources in subject areas such as social studies and science.

The agreement announced Tuesday at the South by Southwest (SXSWedu) Education Conference in Austin, Texas, will significantly scale up the partnership between the two organizations, Brady-Myerov said.

"This agreement allows us to work more closely with NPR to bring their journalism into the classroom," she said.

Emma Carrasco, NPR's chief marketing officer and senior vice president for audience development, said in a statement that the radio network is excited about the partnership.

"Listen Current has figured out how to make public radio classroom-ready and improve college and career readiness of students through authentic learning," Carrasco said in the statement.

Brady-Myerov is a veteran radio journalist who was a reporter and editor at public station WBUR in Boston, where she did award-winning reports on closing the achievement gap and the high school dropout crisis.

She started Listen Current, originally known as Listen Edition, to help bring radio reports into the classroom for educational use. Teachers can use the library of audio content for free, but Listen Current also offers a premium membership that provides interactive transcripts, standards-aligned lesson plans, and other bonuses.

Some of the lesson packages are "American Children, Immigrant Parents," about the U.S. immigration debate; "An Imminent Thaw," about the ecosystem of the Bering Sea; and "Coal Rules the World," about the role of that resource.

Brady-Myerov says that even in an age of boundless video content on the Web and elsewhere, audio has gained ground with teachers and students alike because the popularity of podcasts.

"Students can listen on their phones or other mobile devices," she said. "Teachers tell us it's refreshing."

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