Educator Resources

Anthropology

  • 423: The Invention of Money

    423: The Invention of Money

    Subject: Anthropology
    School Level: College
    I have used some episodes for class participation assignments (specifically episodes 423, The Invention of Money and 341 How to Talk to Kids). I get them to listen to the podcast and answer questions for which they get participation points in the class. The last question is always what did the boss Torey Malatea say because they have to listen all the way to the end to get the answer to that one.
  • 360: Switched At Birth

    360: Switched At Birth

    Subject: Anthropology
    School Level: College
    Kinship is a big "thing" in anthropology that is often hard for students to understand because it is not something that, in North American culture, we spend a lot of time thinking about, even though it does influence many of our decisions. The episodes I use are #360 Switched at Birth and #352 The Ghost of Bobby Dunbar. Both of these stories bring up some very interesting questions about the difference between biological kinship and social kinship. In North America, we are fairly obsessed with biological kinship and these two stories illustrate how we don't quite know how to deal with social kinship, which is, in many ways, more important.
  • 352: The Ghost of Bobby Dunbar

    352: The Ghost of Bobby Dunbar

    Subject: Anthropology
    School Level: College
    Kinship is a big "thing" in anthropology that is often hard for students to understand because it is not something that, in North American culture, we spend a lot of time thinking about, even though it does influence many of our decisions. The episodes I use are #360 Switched at Birth and #352 The Ghost of Bobby Dunbar. Both of these stories bring up some very interesting questions about the difference between biological kinship and social kinship. In North America, we are fairly obsessed with biological kinship and these two stories illustrate how we don't quite know how to deal with social kinship, which is, in many ways, more important.

Art

  • 493: Picture Show

    493: Picture Show

    Subject: Art
    School Level: High School
    We listened to your prologue and act two (all while working on one point perspective drawings). After, I had them respond to three questions (in bold below). There answers were interesting to me and I thought I would pass them along to you as well. Share an example of a time where you misunderstood a picture or "imposed a story" on a photograph. Would you send your art work to Anthony... why or why not? Why do artists make art? Why do you make art?
  • 493: Picture Show

    493: Picture Show

    Subject: Art
    School Level: High School
    I recently listened to your episode "Picture Show" and thought it would be an awesome thing to listen to with my high school art students. We listened to your prologue and act two (all while working on one point perspective drawings). After, I had them respond to three questions: Share an example of a time where you misunderstood a picture or "imposed a story" on a photograph. Would you send your art work to Anthony... why or why not? Why do artists make art? Why do you make art?
  • 468: Switcheroo

    468: Switcheroo

    Subject: Art
    School Level: High School
    We study Cindy Sherman and her photography, using the theme of identity in art making as a huge focus in our own art making. I love using the phone call that you had with her regarding the stunt of someone "being" her at the MOMA. It's a great resource and my students now listen to NPR and TAL on their own time.
  • 379: Return To The Scene Of The Crime

    379: Return To The Scene Of The Crime

    Subject: Art, English
    School Level: High School
    Almost three years ago it occurred to me that I could use some of the cool stories from TAL in my lesson plans as I teach my sophomore students about informational texts. Some of the stories you have developed provided excellent examples of the same standards and objectives I should be teaching in the state of Ohio. I started browsing for some of my favorite stories and then choosing which ones I thought the students would like best. I selected some funny ones to engage the students at first and then shifted to more serious stories. For example, I have selected stories like Return to the Scene of the Crime, Middle School, Nobody's Family Is Going to Change, and Right to Remain Silent (which was ironically on last week). I have given students the option to listen to the stories on their own at times or we have listened to them in class and read along with the transcript. I ask questions that have to do with the students' ability to comprehend, analyze, evaluate, and synthesize (Bloom's Taxonomy). I have also engaged students in a twitter chat with one of the podcasts for homework one night since there was not time in class to discuss the story. I have found that TAL is much more engaging for students to learn about informational texts than reading these types of stories from a book.
  • 286: Mind Games

    286: Mind Games

    Subject: Art
    School Level: College
    I used the episode on the group that pretended to be groupies for an unknown band. It served as a "what not to do" essay for my performance art course in that it showed how performing can have a negative affect for the audience even when you intend to make them feel good. There are many examples of effective performances out there but few examples of people admitting to failure despite a good carry through. It made for a great discussion and set a low bar the students didn't want to touch. We simply listened to the episode and discussed it afterwards.
  • 268: My Experimental Phase

    268: My Experimental Phase

    Subject: Art, Performing Arts
    School Level: High School
    I use the episode about Curly Oxide. I teach a rock/funk based curriculum at a performing arts high school in Ohio. We use the episode to discuss the value of persona vs song writing.
  • 218: Act V

    218: Act V

    Subject: Art
    School Level: High School
    I haven't taught in years, but if I were to return to it, there is one episode I would absolutely use in the classroom (and it also happens to be my all-time favorite episode of TAL). That is Episode 218: "Act V" about the prison inmates performing Hamlet. It is to me the most perfect episode of This American Life, and has so much to say about the transformative power of theater.
  • 110: Mapping

    110: Mapping

    Subject: Art
    I taught a class called "Creative Cartography" to a group of about a dozen adults in Washington DC. After the third week, I was really struggling with moving us away from the literal use of mapmaking in art (that is, taking imagery from roadmaps or geographic maps and incorporating them into their work) and more toward a kind of conceptual, autobiographical mapmaking. I had tried getting the students to that place, but they were having trouble connecting with the idea of non-literal mapping (I'm sure I sounded like a madman trying to explain what I meant). But I stumbled upon TAL 110: Mapmaking and was deeply drawn to Ira's interview with Denis Wood - partly because I find his work deeply resonant on a personal level, but more pragmatically because it spoke to precisely what I was trying to get to in our class. The idea that maps can be non-linear, non-representative, imagined, multi-dimensional and even non-visual was articulated so clearly in Denis Wood's work, and drawn out even further in his interview with Ira. I was compelled to visit the local library and check out Wood's book, Everything Sings (which, coincidentally, the library had just acquired the day before!) and studied Wood's work further. When I played this interview with the class, I withheld the images within the book until afterwards - our conversation before they saw the images was incredibly rich, so much so that when they ultimately saw the images that Wood spoke about on TAL, they already had their own ideas about how they would map their experience, their stories, themselves in non-traditional ways. I'd say that's a success. Some of my students have even gotten back in touch with me after following Wood's work even further - I'm glad I'm not the only one down the rabbit hole.
  • 104: Music Lessons

    104: Music Lessons

    Subject: Art, Performing Arts
    School Level: High School
    I also use the David Serdaris family jazz band episode just for pure entertainment with the kids and to talk about how to practice and what it is like to teach lessons for a living.

Biology

  • 319: And the Call Was Coming from the Basement

    319: And the Call Was Coming from the Basement

    Subject: Biology
    School Level: College
    I am a biology professor, and I have used the episode "The Hills Have Eyes," specifically the portion about rabies (woman being attacked by raccoon) in my intro biology class. In fact, just yesterday, before class began, students were signing up for presentation topics, and one student said she wanted to present on rabies (we hadn't listened to the episode yet). And I said, that I was so excited someone was talking about rabies and a few other students joined our conversation. I began to tell just a little about rabies from the episode, and another student said, "Whoa, my mind is blown and we haven't even started class yet." It was awesome!

Business

  • 441: When Patents Attack!

    441: When Patents Attack!

    Subject: Business, Law
    School Level: College
    I am requiring my students to listen to When Patents Attack (both episodes)
  • 419: Petty Tyrant

    419: Petty Tyrant

    Subject: Business
    School Level: Graduate School
    case material for a course I teach on power and influence in organizations.
  • 418: Toxie

    418: Toxie

    Subject: Business, Law
    School Level: College
    I teach business law at Salisbury University in Maryland, and have used two episodes regularly in my classes. The first is Toxie, the Toxic Asset, which explores the mortgage crisis, and the second is the one that explains the financial meltdown, entitled Eat My Shorts. Both make a complex and difficult topic understandable.
  • 403: NUMMI

    403: NUMMI

    Subject: Business, Leadership
    School Level: College
    I use the NUMMI episode of TAL to illustrate the importance of creating a proper work environment. The class I teach is a leadership class for undergraduates, and the episode
  • 403: NUMMI

    403: NUMMI

    Subject: Business, Leadership
    School Level: College
    403: Nummi is an excellent case study for Operations Management courses and should be considered as such.
  • 386: Fine Print

    386: Fine Print

    Subject: Business, Leadership
    School Level: College
    I
  • 370: Ruining It for the Rest of Us

    370: Ruining It for the Rest of Us

    Subject: Business, Leadership
    School Level: College
    For Venue Management
  • 61: Fiasco!

    61: Fiasco!

    Subject: Business, Leadership
    School Level: College
    I

Communications

  • 175: Babysitting

    175: Babysitting

    Subject: Communications
    School Level: High School
    Act 3 - see attached worksheet
  • 223: Classifieds

    223: Classifieds

    Subject: Communications
    School Level: High School
    Act 2 - see attached worksheet
  • 216: Give the People What They Want

    216: Give the People What They Want

    Subject: Communications
    School Level: High School
  • 216: Give the People What They Want

    216: Give the People What They Want

    Subject: Communications
    School Level: High School
    Act 3 - see attached worksheet
  • 178: Superpowers

    178: Superpowers

    Subject: Communications
    School Level: High School
    Act 3 - see attached worksheet
  • 178: Superpowers

    178: Superpowers

    Subject: Communications
    School Level: High School
    Act 1 - see attached worksheet
  • 173: Three Kinds of Deception

    173: Three Kinds of Deception

    Subject: Communications
    School Level: High School
    Act 2 - see attached worksheet
  • 149: Bedside Diplomacy

    149: Bedside Diplomacy

    Subject: Communications
    School Level: High School
    Act 4 - see attached worksheet
  • 145: Poultry Slam 1999

    145: Poultry Slam 1999

    Subject: Communications
    School Level: High School
    Act 2 - see attached worksheet
  • 145: Poultry Slam 1999

    145: Poultry Slam 1999

    Subject: Communications
    School Level: High School
    Act 3 - see attached worksheet

Diversity

  • 458: Play the Part

    458: Play the Part

    Subject: Diversity, Psychology
    School Level: College
    I teach an upper division elective undergrad class at UCLA called "Perspectives on Autism and Neurodiversity," cross-listed between the Psychology department and Disability Studies minor. I have played the story from Karen and Dave Fincher, "Wife Lessons" from Ep 405 to spur discussion about the "extreme male brain theory" of autism that was really popular for a while in the research field and is still common in popular understandings of high-functioning autism (is Dave just like a typical guy, but more so?). I also use it to illustrate how people might use diagnoses such as Aspergers to make sense of their own lives... It's a perfect way to illustrate the "lived experience" of neurological difference. I've taught the class for three summers and the students always love the podcast and it always leads to a really interesting engagement with class material, so thank you!
  • 449: Middle School

    449: Middle School

    Subject: Diversity
    School Level: Middle School
    N/A
  • 24: Teenaged Girls

    24: Teenaged Girls

    Subject: Diversity
    School Level: Middle School
    N/A
  • 27: The Cruelty of Children

    27: The Cruelty of Children

    Subject: Diversity
    School Level: Middle School
    N/A

Economics

  • 490: Trends With Benefits

    490: Trends With Benefits

    Subject: Economics
    School Level: College
    This is one of the best episodes of TAL I have ever heard, and I've been a fan of the show for years. In fact, this is one of the best examples of investigative journalism I have ever encountered. I'm a professional economist, and I had no idea about the growth of the Federal Disability program. I've used this in my introductory macroeconomics course to talk about structural unemployment, and will no doubt use it in my upcoming course on poverty and discrimination.
  • 474: Back to School

    474: Back to School

    Subject: Economics
    School Level: College
    I teach economics at a liberal arts college in Western New York (Hobart and William Smith Colleges). I taught an introductory class on the economics of education and also an upper level course on labor economics. I used this episode in both classes. Students were responsible for listening to the episode on their own outside of class and then we had a guided discussion in class. Students in the intro class were also responsible for reading How Children Succeed (which, I believe, is a focal point of this episode). I also played a clip of an episode for the labor course on discrimination. It was the story the attorney told about posing as waitstaff at a country club.
  • 423: The Invention of Money

    423: The Invention of Money

    Subject: Economics
    School Level: College
    I work with students with learning disabilities at Northeastern University. For my students who take Econ, I usually have them listen to episode #433, The Invention of Money. It really helps them get a perspective on what they're supposed to be learning in the class AND makes it really interesting for them. Learning is always easier and more interesting through stories, so this is a perfect episode.
  • 355: The Giant Pool of Money

    355: The Giant Pool of Money

    Subject: Economics
    School Level: College
    Every year I teach a large section of introductory macroeconomics (roughly 250 students). Just after the financial crisis happened, I realized the necessity of teaching the origins and consequences of the twin bubbles, in credit and housing. But I was at a loss to understand the specifics of how this nightmare developed, let alone explain it to my students. All of the acronyms - CDO, CDS, and MBS - were a mystery to me, as were the roles of the various institutions in creating this crisis, including mortgage lenders, Wall St., the Fed, etc. Then I listened to the "Giant Pool of Money" episode and holy crap it was like an entire 1970s-era-Howard-Johnson-sign's worth of light bulbs went off in my head. I got it, or came closer to getting it than ever before. Since then I've read a number of articles and a few books (currently reading "The Big Short" by Michael Lewis, which is really great), but I always returned to the "Giant Pool of Money." It's absolutely brilliant. Also, I just listened to "Inside Job" again, and will probably incorporate that into my lectures. I even created PowerPoint slides to explain all this to my students, using the "Giant Pool of Money" as the basis. I've attached the presentation.

Education

  • 474: Back to School

    474: Back to School

    Subject: Education
    School Level: Graduate School
    We have the following assignment for an online graduate level class for EDCI 504, Assessment and Evaluation, through Montana State University: This American Life: This week as possibly a very good change from our routine, you have the option of listening to a 57 minute podcast, instead of the quote and citation. The podcast is from This American Life out of Chicago, called Back to School (September 2012). I found it very interesting. As you listen, jot down anything that is of interest. You can share those items of interest and address this question: "Having listened to the podcast, what are the implications for us as teachers, now knowing what we do?"

English

  • 504: How I Got Into College

    504: How I Got Into College

    Subject: English
    School Level: High School
    I have recently begun to teach a course on American media, and in this class I present the students with examples of American media ranging from clips of popular American sitcoms to short segments from radio programs. Several weeks ago I shared with my students the episode of "going back to school", to highlight the similarities and differences of the US and South Korean university admission process. I began the class by asking the students to think about their own admission process at Sangmyung University (the name of the university where I teach). The students came up with their own lists and then I had them share their individual experiences in a group discussion to get an idea of how difficult or easy students' felt their experience to be. Students in general agreed that in South Korea the principle requirement to enter a good university (in South Korea there are 3 Ivy League caliber universities) was to receive a high mark on their CSAT (Korean university entrance exam). However, high marks in their high school courses would also aid them in the admission process, but not nearly as much as their test score. After creating their lists and concluding our short discussion, I then shared with them my own experience of applying to various universities and it quickly became apparent to the students that our processes were very different. For starters the number of universities I applied to was far greater than the number of universities most South Korean students apply to. There are a large number of universities in South Korea, but the majority of high school students are competing for the top three (imagine the level of competition!). I also explained to the students that it was very important that I had variety of extra-curricular activities on my educational resume, activities such as: sports, music, academic clubs, etc.. In South Korea most students don't have the time to participate in these types of extra-curricular activities so the fact that this was a deciding factor for some admission boards in the US came as quite a surprise. After comparing their experiences with my experiences, I played for them the into to the episode, and they listened to the interviews with the incoming freshmen at Columbia University and their explanations for why they believed they got accepted. What really stood out to the South Korean university students, was the fact that the more unique an American high school student is, the better chance they have to get into a good university. In South Korea if you stand out from the pack, that does not translate into being unique or more importantly a better student. The idea that an individual from a minority or from a special cohort would give an individual student an advantage was the most shocking revelation from the episode. Because the class is limited in time (1 hour) we had to cut the discussion short, however to keep the conversation going I gave all of the students a writing assignment. I asked all of the students to go home and write a paragraph about which country they would like to pursue their higher education, they would have to provide at least 3 pieces of evidence to support their decision as well as providing reasons for why they didn't select the alternative option. At the end of the class I had several students come up to me and ask me for the link to the entire podcast. A week later they came back and told me they were so grateful to have a class that opened their eyes to these types of cultural lessons. I was pleased to hear this feedback and I owe the success of that lesson entirely to the great journalistic work being done at This American Life. I will conclude this email with a breakdown of the lesson and the materials required to complete this lesson. Thank you again for all of your great work and I hope to use more episodes of TAL in class in the future. A Breakdown of the lesson: Opening (10 minutes): How easy/hard is it to enter a university in South Korea? Make a list of all the tasks you had to complete to enter Sangmyung University. Discussion (15 minutes): Share personal experiences related to the application process and how you felt before, during, and after the process. Teacher Experience (10 minutes): I will share with you my experience of trying to get into college and then we will discuss some of the similarities and differences. Listening (20 minutes): Listen to the podcast and then have a discussion about the students responses and try to highlight the reasons why they felt they were accepted by Columbia University and were their reasons similar to some of the students at Sangmyung University. Closing (5 minutes): I short wrap up of the days conversation with a summary of what we had learned in class with last comments from the students. Materials: Each student was given a transcript of the episode. I provided the students with a glossary of the difficult terms or phrases from the episode and we would discuss each term or phrase as we came to them.
  • 504: How I Got Into College

    504: How I Got Into College

    Subject: English
    School Level: High School
    good for students to hear what NOT to write in their essays.
  • 504: How I Got Into College

    504: How I Got Into College

    Subject: English
    School Level: High School
    I have also used the My Ames is True episode with my grade 10 students as part of a Common Core Common Assessment that answered the following question: After reviewing the 4 sources (This American Life was 1 of the 4), describe the transformative power that memory evokes within people.
  • 496: When Patents Attack... Part Two!

    496: When Patents Attack... Part Two!

    Subject: English
    School Level: High School
    I've also used "When Patents Attack: part 2" to achieve two goals: 1. Thank you for providing a real life example of how misusing an apostrophe can cause real life problems. (That's the first reason I've used the show.) 2. How does the order of ideas create meaning? The students listen to the show, then look at the transcript which I have cut into different sections. (The show has neat little small episodes, so this works nicely). The students must rearrange the order of ideas to create a new meaning. By starting and ending with different parts of the show, perhaps eliminating two segments, the students can shift the emphasis, leading the reader/listener to different conclusions than those created in the original show. (The goal of this exercise is for students to explore possible ways of creating meaning, not arguing for/against different versions of truth.) Sometimes they make the show sympathetic to people who simply want to make money, sometimes they make the show supportive of IV. They have fantastic discussions and develop their analytical skills, considering how structure of ideas is a powerful force in creating meaning.
  • 492: Dr. Gilmer and Mr. Hyde

    492: Dr. Gilmer and Mr. Hyde

    Subject: English
    School Level: College
    Episode 492, Dr. Gilmer and Mr. Hyde, shows students how necessary it is to look at both sides of a story. This works really well when we talk about the argument and the counterargument.
  • 487: Harper High School, Part One

    487: Harper High School, Part One

    Subject: English
    School Level: High School
    Any teacher of Language Arts can tell you that it is extremely difficult to locate texts that have both literary merit and are met with enthusiasm on the part of the students. I have tried to err on the side of pleasing my own tastes, and I have also tried to indulge my students by delving into theirs-- generally someone winds up unhappy and confused. Then one day I was looking through the This American Life radio archive trying to pass an hour listening to some old episode I may have missed, and I found myself thinking: this show is amazing. Almost every episode is well crafted. It is, like, a study in writer's craft and speech. And their stories are so darn interesting too! And bingo! Just like that, I realized that I had literally hundreds of great stories which could be put to use in my classroom. And because my students are all lucky enough to be equipped with Chrome books, they all have access to the technology. After careful searching and consideration, I decided to use the two-part Harper High School episode as the central text in the first unit of my sophomore Language Arts class. Unit one is a study of non-fiction, and in it we ask the following essential question: Consider the writer's choices. How do these choices impact the reader's understanding of the text? This question is at once fairly basic and deceptively complex, and I found that the Harper episode was uniquely well qualified to help us answer it. Because Harper is really an audio text (though we followed along with the transcript very closely) it really opened up the whole notion of "writer's choices" to much more than the printed words. Here is just a very small sample of some "choices" that my students raised and grappled with: What is the purpose of transitioning to a different "act" at this particular location? What would have been the effect if the transition had been inserted a little earlier? Why does Ira Glass interrupt the speaker here? Why is he summarizing her words for her? What were the other editorial options open to him? Why is this story set primarily in the counselor's office? How would this story be different had it been set primarily in the cafeteria, or in a more academic setting? What is the impact of "background noise" on a scene? How does it impact our judgement? How do the writers create sympathy for some of the people interviewed? After grappling with these questions and writing about them as a class, I gave my students a few days to peruse the This American Life archive and find their own podcast to explore. Having done so, they are now attempting to answer the same essential question with reference to their own story in the form of a written extended response. Writing is hard work, without exception, but I truly cannot recall a time when my students and I shared such a total, genuine, and heartfelt appreciation for the same text. It helps enormously.They are all hooked. It is amazing.
  • 487: Harper High School, Part One

    487: Harper High School, Part One

    Subject: English
    School Level: Middle School
    I thought long and hard about how to connect Harper to what we were doing in class. We were reading The Outsiders. I found a way for the children to connect the characters and problems faced in The Outsiders to workable solutions for the community surrounding Harper. Overtime the connections between this work of fiction and Harper kind of seemed astounding to me. Me I was reaching but I felt like it just worked. It brought the Socs and Greasers to life. I've included a few of the materials I used for this multipart lesson. We worked with the podcast for over a week. One of the culminating activities centered around clothes line being run from different Outsider character posters around the room to a box in the middle that had images from Harper and TAL pasted on it. Children clipped the connections from each character along the line back to Harper. It was one of the best lessons I've ever taught and left quite a few of my students with tears after listening to the plight of Harper. Anyone who wants to argue that 13 year olds lack empathy should have been in my class that day. I hope these materials benefit someone.
  • 487: Harper High School, Part One

    487: Harper High School, Part One

    Subject: English
    School Level: College
    This semester, I asked students to evaluate the "Harper High School" podcasts in my academic essay writing class (they're all social service worker students).
  • 487: Harper High School, Part One

    487: Harper High School, Part One

    Subject: English
    School Level: College
    We use the Harper High pieces in our Intro to Journ classes as an example of in-depth storytelling.
  • 487: Harper High School, Part One

    487: Harper High School, Part One

    Subject: English
    School Level: High School
    I have used the Harper High School piece to couple Alex Kotlowitz's There Are No Children Here with my Senior AP students.
  • 487: Harper High School, Part One

    487: Harper High School, Part One

    Subject: English
    School Level: College
    I also use the episodes about Harper High School because it discusses the way students are "captive." I like the way you incorporate so many different voices in a story. This teaches students how important it is to go beyond themselves. I always tell them, when they write, to use their authentic voice, and that is what they hear when they listen to TAL. It works on many levels.
  • 486: Valentine's Day

    486: Valentine's Day

    Subject: English
    School Level: High School
    Last year, I worked at a boarding school in New Hampshire and used Mike Birbiglia's story "My girlfriend's boyfriend" for a special week-long class called "Telling Your Story." We used it specifically to talk about pace and tone. I used it for obvious reasons like, it's a good story, and it's funny enough to hold the kids' attention. But I also used it because I like the way that Mike tells stories. He clearly uses his own voice, and it sounds like he's speaking off the cuff, but it's also polished. I wanted my students to think about the ways in which they could use their own stories and their own voices but still be prepared and put the effort into a well designed story.
  • 483: Self-Improvement Kick

    483: Self-Improvement Kick

    Subject: English
    School Level: High School
    I wanted to share my thanks for your recent program on the charter cities in Honduras. I used the radio story as a springboard for a very engaging and thoughtful conversation with my 10th grade World Literature classes; we are currently studying Imperialism, and this story provided an interesting way to consider similar themes in today's global society.
  • 483: Self-Improvement Kick

    483: Self-Improvement Kick

    Subject: English, Literature
    School Level: High School
    I wanted to share my thanks for your recent program on the charter cities in Honduras. I used the radio story as a springboard for a very engaging and thoughtful conversation with my 10th grade World Literature classes; we are currently studying Imperialism, and this story provided an interesting way to consider similar themes in today's global society.
  • 479: Little War on the Prairie

    479: Little War on the Prairie

    Subject: English
    School Level: High School
    The "Little War on the Prairie" episode was great for introducing a lesson on memorials and perspective around Thanksgiving. I created active listening questions, which students completed while listening to the episode. Then, we had a discussion afterward. In the days at followed, we did a webquest on several controversial Newark celebrities (Amiri Baraka, Assata Shakur, Nat Turner [a local park is named after him], and Sharpe James), with the ultimate goal of supporting an argumentative essay about whom the new local middle school would be named after. Students were instructed to examine all sides of the story, like the This American Life piece had done. WebQuest is attached. Feel free to use with or without my name.
  • 476: What Doesn't Kill You

    476: What Doesn't Kill You

    Subject: English
    School Level: College
    In the first-year composition classes I taught, I focused on argumentation and rhetorical analysis, as opposed to the traditional (and antiquated) literature-based comp curriculum. My classes placed value on rhetorical situation, which is comprised of four elements: writer, reader, text, and context. Text, in my class, is defined as any medium that holds and transmits information. An empty classroom is a text. A conversation is a text. A glance from a cute person walking down the street is a text (should you choose to read it as such). To determine the argument that it makes, intentionally or not, we have to analyze and interpret all four of those elements. Who
  • 474: Back to School

    474: Back to School

    Subject: English
    School Level: College
    See attached worksheet
  • 474: Back to School

    474: Back to School

    Subject: English
    School Level: College
    I used "Back to School" (Sept. 2012) in a freshman (college) writing class last fall. The students in all sections were required to study Paulo Freire's banking concept of education. I decided to make education the focus of the course. Let me say that my sections were at-risk mostly African-American students with marginal preparation for college and little understanding of how to succeed. I was hoping elements of the course would help these students find paths to success in college. We looked at an NYT essay by Charles Blow on his experiences as a child with PBS as an educational tool (this was when Mitt Romney was promising to "get rid of Big Bird" if he won the presidency). And I had chosen from the class text an excerpt from John Edgar Wideman's Brothers and Keepers. Wideman worked pretty well. One brother used education to launch himself into a better future - the other, younger brother scorned school and following a "straight" path and ended up in prison. While the language was difficult in place, the story resonated. But I had many problems with students not attending and not doing assignments. I was sitting at home one Saturday stressing about how to reach my students when the "Back to School" episode - with information and tools my students needed to get through the semester. The experience in TAL of Chicago student Kewauna Lerma was especially helpful. I decided to approach the subject in an oblique way, asking them how the younger brother in Wideman, Robbie, could have applied the concepts in the TAL episode to his own life (rather than using it to lecture about what I thought they should personally do). Ultimately, comparing elements in Wideman to elements in TAL was very successful (I'd be lying if I said the class ended up going well - nearly all of them shut down and refused to engage with Freire). I would use the TAL episide again if I had the chance. For at-risk students, it was a practical roadmap.
  • 465: What Happened At Dos Erres

    465: What Happened At Dos Erres

    Subject: English
    School Level: High School
    When reading Night (about the Holocaust), I ask my students if it could happen today and if there is still prejudice. Then I play Dos Erres or the episode where the Muslim girl is told that a candy cane is shaped in a "J" for Jesus and the red is symbolic for the blood of Jesus.
  • 465: What Happened At Dos Erres

    465: What Happened At Dos Erres

    Subject: English
    School Level: High School
    We read The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver in which two characters are illegal immigrants fleeing the Guatemalan government after their daughter has been kidnapped and held for ransom. The students struggle with understanding what happened and why it was so dangerous, so we listen to Dos Erres and then they write an essay about the characters in the book. It
  • 464: Invisible Made Visible

    464: Invisible Made Visible

    Subject: English
    School Level: High School
    I show Mike Birbiglia's "D-U-Why?" from the live show DVD as a way to teach narrative arc and how to plant a motif (the repetition) for a powerful payoff at the end ("she only had to say it once").
  • 460: Retraction

    460: Retraction

    Subject: English
    School Level: High School
    Hello! I'm in my 29th year of teaching secondary English. For the past 14 years, I've been in the Netherlands, teaching grades 10-12 at the International School of Amsterdam. Like most international schools, the student population is globally mobile. English is the language of instruction, so all of the kids speak/use English at the same level of kids in the US. (I've taught there, too.) Many international schools use the International Baccalaureate (IB) programs because using a common framework/curriculum provides better transition for the students when they move between IB schools. In grades 11 and 12, the students take the International Baccalaureate Diploma Program. It's a rigorous program. Now, to your question: Here's how I use your show: The IB has a new English course, called Language and Literature. Text type analysis is the basic focus of the course. Your program "Retraction" makes it crystal clear why using the correct text type is critical to accurate, effective, honest communication. Suddenly the students understand this concept, all within the framework of great reporting, story telling, and seeking of truth.
  • 459: What Kind of Country

    459: What Kind of Country

    Subject: English
    School Level: High School
    we listened to episode 459: What Kind of Country. The bell rang only a couple of minutes after the episode ended, so we didn't talk about it very much, but before we left we were prompted to think about what makes people change their opinions, when it happens, and if simply learning new information on a topic causes them to immediately change their opinions.
  • 454: Mr. Daisey and the Apple Factory

    454: Mr. Daisey and the Apple Factory

    Subject: English
    School Level: College
    The first compares the two Apple podcasts (I have a copy of "Mr. Daisey and the Apple Factory" in mp3 format that students can listen to). This assignment helps them to understand the skill of argument, author/narrator skills in creating believability/credibility, as well as the importance of thorough research (sorry). We take them up in class and discuss students' answers and reactions to the episodes.
  • 454: Mr. Daisey and the Apple Factory

    454: Mr. Daisey and the Apple Factory

    Subject: English
    School Level: High School
    part of a larger unit on journalistic ethics.
  • 454: Mr. Daisey and the Apple Factory

    454: Mr. Daisey and the Apple Factory

    Subject: English
    School Level: High School
    I'm a high school English teacher and this year I'll be using both Fox con stories, I was able to buy the 1st one on Amazon before you took it down. Ira skewering Daisey is a good lesson concerning academic honesty and how devastating it can be when you have little regard for your own integrity as a writer/story teller (or just get carried away), and (sorry about this) the importance of using credible sources when writing is also a lesson that comes across nicely.
  • 454: Mr. Daisey and the Apple Factory

    454: Mr. Daisey and the Apple Factory

    Subject: English
    School Level: High School
    I teach a course called "Writing for the Media" to 11th and 12th graders. Last Spring was the first time I used This American Life in this class and it was very successful. I introduce the podcast telling the students we will be discussing "Investigative Journalism." I play the "Mike Daisey and the Apple Factory" episode 1. The kids are fascinated by the story. They love their iPhones so there is nothing more relevant to them. I show pictures of FoxConn and the suicide nets while it is playing. They often come back to class the next day after having conducted their own research on the topic. They are excited to discuss the story with me after class because they feel completely outraged at Apple. On Day 2, I play "Mr. Daisey and the Apple Factory: RETRACTION." The kids are SHOCKED! They feel completely duped and angry. They are often mad at ME for not telling them that many of the facts in Mr. Daisey's story were false. I then reveal that our true unit of study was "Journalism Ethics." We discuss the episode at length. They question if Mike Daisey was to blame or if the fact checkers were to blame. It leads to a really great discussion about the code of ethics when it comes to writing and the responsibility of fact checkers. I also show the movie "Shattered Glass" about Stephen Glass as well as have the students read Janet Cooke's false article about the 8 year old heroin addict: Jimmy's World. They analyze all three. Here is the document I use for this analysis of Journalism Ethics: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1RbaO0jJzt3oyyRCTKOtwinfEknM65nn7ozs0LIifRv4/edit?usp=sharing This unit is really successful and interesting to the students and I personally love an opportunity to share my favorite radio broadcast with my kids!
  • 451: Back to Penn State

    451: Back to Penn State

    Subject: English
    School Level: College

    I didn’t know much about Florida State before I came here for my master’s degree, but I learned quickly that they are football crazy here. It’s not something that should have surprised me — I attended a state school myself, Ohio State, and football is nearly elevated to a religion there. Teaching at Florida State, however, was my first time observing college football madness from an outsider’s point of view. And let me tell you, it was disconcerting.

    On game day, students get up before sunrise to start drinking, holler at anyone not dressed in Garnett and Gold, and back up traffic for miles. Entire streets close down. Speaking of elevating football to a religion, there’s an enormous stained-glass window of former football coach Bobby Bowden at the stadium. All of which is to say nothing about the school’s extremely problematic mascot, Chief Osceola, or the racist chants like “Scalp ‘em. Noles!”

    Of course, a lot of this will be familiar to you at This American Life. It’s essentially a North Florida version of what goes on at State College, PA every weekend. The binge drinking, the rowdy school spirit, and the blind loyalty are all there. It made me concerned for my students — not just their physical safety, but their critical thinking skills. How can you truly be a critical thinker when football trumps everything?

    That’s when I decided to put the prologue of Episode 451, Back to Penn State, on the class blog. The (possibly) drunk girl talking about how the administration handles things perfectly (only two years away from news of the Sandusky scandal breaking) could have been any number of Florida State students talking to This American Life reporters. I posted the clip alongside a journal prompt titled, “What if Penn State Had Happened at Florida State?” I asked them to consider, in their responses, the influence of football over student life, the accountability of administrators, the nature of fandom. I have a link to the prompt and the responses here.

    The responses were OK. Hannah B worried the school’s current winning record would blind some people to doing the right thing, and Kaitlyn K addressed the dangers of fan violence. No one really questioned the importance of football or renounced the corporatization of state schools like I’d hoped. A fair number of the posts, to my chagrin, ended with something like, “I’d be sorry it happened, but I’d still be proud to be a Seminole.”

    Truth is, my hardest-working students had mostly completed their allotted blog posts by this point in the semester, so online discussion was not as rigorous as I’d have liked it to be. We had some decent carry-over of the discussion during class time, but I didn’t play the clip from the episode in class. All of which is to say: the lesson could have gone better, but that’s on me, not This American Life. I think I’ll definitely use it again in semesters to come.

  • 448: Adventure!

    448: Adventure!

    Subject: English
    School Level: Middle School
    I have students listen to the Dave Eggers story from episode 448: Adventure! I tie it to our anthology unit on mood, tone, and style. Students analyze the text and audio to determine how the author created a tense/suspenseful mood. I give them the text and some accompanying questions to guide their analysis (worksheet attached)
  • 448: Adventure!

    448: Adventure!

    Subject: English
    School Level: Middle School
    I'm student teaching this year and we're doing a unit on short stories, timed so the students write stories by Halloween - we used the Adventure! episode (448) and specifically Dave Eggers creepy story to introduce short stories (and the elements thereof and how Eggers subverts some more traditional story-writing aspects, etc.) to the students.
  • 443: Amusement Park

    443: Amusement Park

    Subject: English
    School Level: High School
    I just finished up a two year stint teaching high school English in Mexico. I used This American Life in my Journalism class as an extra credit assignment. I posted links to some of the easier episodes to understand (i.e. Amusement Park, as opposed to ones on US politics), and students would listen. Then, they had to summarize the main points of the show.
  • 431: See No Evil

    431: See No Evil

    Subject: English
    School Level: High School
    Still, my favorite use would have to be for their research paper at the end of the course, which covers the thread of good vs. evil throughout all of the works we study. In short, the research paper asks them to choose which type of evil is the worst/most dangerous (personal, social, or religious) then substantiate their claim by referencing works that we have read throughout the year. In addition, they must link the evil from the literature to the same type of evil in modern society. For this portion, I give them a list of This Life episodes that could be applicable. So if a teacher wanted to do a similar project/paper about good vs. evil in both literature and real life, I highly suggest having the students listen to certain Acts from these episodes. For example, some great talking points for social evil come from Episode 431 (See No Evil), Act II, which gets into possible government corruption and cover-ups regarding the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan. Episode 493 (Picture Show), Act I discusses how Israeli soldiers use random house visits to keep track of Palestinians in the West Bank. Additionally, I also use the following episodes: 392: Someone Else's Money (re: health insurance) 2: Small Scale Sin (Act III--computer hacking) 168: The Fix is In (corporate corruption) 197: Before It Had a Name (Act I--the Holocaust) 5: Anger & Forgiveness (Acts I, III, & V) 317: Unconditional Love (Prologue) 213: Devil on my Shoulder (Acts I & II--religious evil)
  • 428: Oh You Shouldn't Have

    428: Oh You Shouldn't Have

    Subject: English
    School Level: High School
    I used Etgar Keret's "What Of This Goldfish Would You Wish?" as an intro to Crime and Punishment
  • 413: Georgia Rambler

    413: Georgia Rambler

    Subject: English
    School Level: College
    I use Georgia Rambler for any of my Intro Journalism classes. . . as instruction on GOING OUT AND GETTING STORIES. . .
  • 402: Save the Day

    402: Save the Day

    Subject: English
    School Level: College
    I teach an introduction to composition to first-year college students at a large public university, and sometimes at a local community college as well. I use the Life Raft Debate segment from episode 402, "Save the Day," to talk about counter arguments, acknowledging your opponents' views, ethical argument, and, of course, fields of college study (which is usually my writing topic for their papers). Often I have us listen to this episode, look up how the debate went this most recent year, and prepare to have a debate in our classroom about some other topic.
  • 396: #1 Party School

    396: #1 Party School

    Subject: English
    School Level: College
    Coming up soon, I am going to be using "#1 Party School." My students are learning to write a profile of something
  • 387: Arms Trader 2009

    387: Arms Trader 2009

    Subject: English
    School Level: College
    I like to start out a semester by assigning Arms Trade, episode 387. We often talk about captivity, the ways in which we are all held captive, either directly or indirectly, and this episode provides a compelling example. It makes the students think about how we end up in certain situations, and if we deserve to be there. There is always an argument to be had.
  • 381: Turncoat

    381: Turncoat

    Subject: English
    School Level: High School
    When reading 1984, I have my students listen to the "Turncoat" episode and ask them if what happens to O'Brien and Winston is analogous to what happens in the show.
  • 379: Return To The Scene Of The Crime

    379: Return To The Scene Of The Crime

    Subject: English
    School Level: College
    Dan Savage's story
  • 379: Return To The Scene Of The Crime

    379: Return To The Scene Of The Crime

    Subject: Art, English
    School Level: High School
    Almost three years ago it occurred to me that I could use some of the cool stories from TAL in my lesson plans as I teach my sophomore students about informational texts. Some of the stories you have developed provided excellent examples of the same standards and objectives I should be teaching in the state of Ohio. I started browsing for some of my favorite stories and then choosing which ones I thought the students would like best. I selected some funny ones to engage the students at first and then shifted to more serious stories. For example, I have selected stories like Return to the Scene of the Crime, Middle School, Nobody's Family Is Going to Change, and Right to Remain Silent (which was ironically on last week). I have given students the option to listen to the stories on their own at times or we have listened to them in class and read along with the transcript. I ask questions that have to do with the students' ability to comprehend, analyze, evaluate, and synthesize (Bloom's Taxonomy). I have also engaged students in a twitter chat with one of the podcasts for homework one night since there was not time in class to discuss the story. I have found that TAL is much more engaging for students to learn about informational texts than reading these types of stories from a book.
  • 379: Return To The Scene Of The Crime

    379: Return To The Scene Of The Crime

    Subject: English
    School Level: High School
    A favorite lesson of mine is to use Mike Birbiglia's tale in the episode "Return to the Scene of the Crime," wherein he tells of getting T-boned in an auto accident, becomes obsessive about righting wrongs, and somehow integrates how he came to propose to his girlfriend. The story fits well after we study Greek tragedy, story theory, and Aristotle's Poetics. The point I make is that it is not just playwrights and novelists who tell stories of characters who move from ignorance to knowledge--it happens in life as well. To all of us. Birbiglia's story is brief, hilarious, touching, and true. Just like Antigone (except for the hilarious part). Thanks to This American Life for helping fuel my instruction. (I also love sharing the Hamlet-in-prison episode and the parodies of William Carlos Williams' "This Is Just to Say.")
  • 374: Somewhere Out There

    374: Somewhere Out There

    Subject: English
    School Level: High School
    I find the program on transgender kids extraordinary, since it raises many delicate questions and issues for interesting discussions aiming at improving our students' awareness of the gender situation, as well the their proficiency of the English language, of course.
  • 364: Going Big

    364: Going Big

    Subject: English
    School Level: High School
    I love to use Act III of Episode 364 (Going Big) to do a compare/contrast with Macbeth--the students enjoy listening to Daisy and Robin's story and can also recognize parallels between the women and Shakespeare's tragic hero.
  • 364: Going Big

    364: Going Big

    Subject: English
    School Level: High School
    Near the beginning of Sophomore year in English 10 Honors, Mr. Nagro had us listen to Act 1 of episode 364: Going Big. I think at that point he just really wanted to introduce us to how important reading is. We talked about why reading is important and discussed the themes in class then did some writing exercises to practice writing in active voice, if I remember correctly. Finally in my senior year I took AP English from Mr. Nagro. For this class we would prepare to take the two AP English tests (Language & Composition and Literature), so we studied both fiction and non-fiction. We again listened to Act 1 of episode 364: Going Big, but this time focused on what defines "The American Dream" and if this "dream" even exists. We read the first hundred pages or so of Malcolm Gladwell's Outliers to aid in our discussion about what makes a "successful" person so successful. Branching off of the American Dream and success, we talked a little bit about the cycle of poverty and how reading plays into breaking away from poverty.
  • 363: Enforcers

    363: Enforcers

    Subject: English
    School Level: High School
    I've played the segment "Hanging in Chad" as a way to set up the idea of moral ambiguity (as part of a unit on Antigone, where the good vs. evil dichotomy breaks down, as both Antigone and Creon are good AND bad).
  • 359: Life After Death

    359: Life After Death

    Subject: English
    School Level: High School
    I am currently teaching a unit on Macbeth to my English 12 class at Wellspring Preparatory High School in Grand Rapids, Michigan. For each unit that I teach, I choose an overarching thematic concept that prepares students for the primary theme that they are about to encounter in a difficult text. For Macbeth, my framing device is the topic of guilt. I developed the attached scenarios as a pre-listening activity for the "Guilty as Not Charged" story from Episode 359 (Life After Death). Students are asked to complete the scenarios individually before breaking up into groups. Once they are in small groups of four, they must debate the "correct" ranking order. We then have a large group discussion in which I rank all of their responses using the attached template (projected onto the whiteboard), and then we open up the floor for class wide debate. It can get pretty heated. Afterwards, we listen to "Guilty as Not Charged" and the students respond to the following writing prompt: As we listen to This American Life, please respond to the following questions in your journal. What are the circumstances of the story? Do you understand the narrator's guilt? Do you empathize with Darin? Do you think his feelings of guilt are justified? Why or why not? Given the same set of circumstances, how might you respond? The next day, we read and listen to the story "Guilt" by Judy Budnitz as read by Matt Malloy in the "Tin Man" segment of Episode 446 (Living Without). I then use the following discussion questions to lead a class wide conversation. Often I will have them respond to the questions in writing first. Why do you suppose the author decided to name her short story "Guilt"? What might the author be trying to say about the topic of guilt through this story? How do you know? Were the aunts justified in "guilting" the narrator into his actions? Was the narrator justified in feeling the "guilt" or responsibility for his mother? Do you understand why the narrator made the decision that he did? What would you have done given the same set of circumstances?
  • 354: Mistakes Were Made

    354: Mistakes Were Made

    Subject: English
    School Level: High School
    I'm trying to figure out ways to integrate "Mistakes were made" into my AP poetry unit, particularly the use of "This is just to say." Brilliant!
  • 352: The Ghost of Bobby Dunbar

    352: The Ghost of Bobby Dunbar

    Subject: English
    School Level: College
    The most useful ones for me, so far, have been used as examples to unravel the mysteries of narrative non-fiction. The Suspect Car and The Ghost of Bobby Dunbar have proven useful. They
  • 348: Tough Room

    348: Tough Room

    Subject: English
    School Level: High School
    While I find myself using countless episodes that relate to various areas of study in both my English and Creative Writing classes, a stalwart in my stable of shows is Episode 348: "Tough Room." As soon as the subject of what is funny and what is not surfaces in my Advanced Creative Writing class (and it always does), I let them listen to The Onion staff break down their headline selection process; a tutorial that's a necessary rite of passage in the process of writers developing the thick skins needed to endure and appreciate meaningful critiques of their work. We too debate why "Local girlfriend always wants to do stuff" gets the nod over "Nations' girlfriends call for more quality time," and we have TAL to thank for that!
  • 347: Matchmakers

    347: Matchmakers

    Subject: English
    School Level: High School
    My favorite TAL piece to use in the classroom is Elna Baker
  • 322: Shouting Across the Divide

    322: Shouting Across the Divide

    Subject: English
    School Level: Middle School
    We use this story as part of a unit on Pearl Harbor, September 11th and the Patriot Act and also as a year long unit on being an outsider. We focus on Chloe's story. The students LOVE this story because they get SO OUTRAGED at the teacher and what she does. We use this story for several reasons, one being that since the students were either very young or not alive when 9/11 happened, this helps explain some of the backlash against Muslims afterwards in a very reachable, understandable way.
  • 340: The Devil in Me

    340: The Devil in Me

    Subject: English
    School Level: High School
    we listened to Act 1 of episode 340: The Devil in Me. Again, we talked about the themes and about how Sam Slaven's experiences in overcoming his biases relate to how Reuven Malter of Chaim Potok's The Chosen changes his views about truth and his world.
  • 340: The Devil in Me

    340: The Devil in Me

    Subject: English
    School Level: College
    I teach Interpersonal Communication along with other communication courses at a two year two year technical college. I routinely use "the devil in me" to spur a conversation about how powerful perception can be, how difficult perspective taking can be and the power of empathy.
  • 329: Nice Work If You Can Get It

    329: Nice Work If You Can Get It

    Subject: English
    School Level: College
    I have used "Just One Thing Missing" from Nice Work if You Can Get It and "NRA vs. NEA" from Guns for a unit I am doing on writing profiles of people. (See attached unit plan.)
  • 323: The Super

    323: The Super

    Subject: English
    School Level: College
    students love this show. Huge hit. I use it as an example of great storytelling, details, description, dialogue, etc.
  • 310: Habeas Schmabeas

    310: Habeas Schmabeas

    Subject: English
    School Level: High School
    Later that year we listened to episode 310: Habeas Schmabeas when we began to write persuasive essays. The essay we were preparing to write dealt with whether the U.S. should spend its resources on issues overseas, so we were given other things to listen to and different articles to read. I don't remember what all of the resources we were given were, but one of them was an episode of RadioWest called God's Jury about the Spanish Inquisition and how the U.S.'s use of torture reflects the Inquisition.
  • 291: Reunited (And It Feels So Good)

    291: Reunited (And It Feels So Good)

    Subject: English
    School Level: College
    My classes use several TAL episodes when learning about and preparing to write profiles: "If by Chance we Meet Again," "Pray," "Harper High School," and "Friday Night Floodlights" from the Back from the Dead show. http://ucacomp1.wikispaces.com/The+Profile+Essay We listen and talk about how the episodes do what they do.
  • 286: Mind Games

    286: Mind Games

    Subject: English
    School Level: Middle School
    I used the segment
  • 283: Remember Me

    283: Remember Me

    Subject: English
    School Level: Middle School
    For the past 4 years I've used "Thinking Inside The Box" by David Wilcox. I teach memoir writing and this a nice short one for kids to listen to, reflect upon. When I first heard it I was driving across New Mexico to visit my mother for the last time. She was battling breast cancer and this came on the radio. I had to pull over and collect myself after it was done. Using this in class helps them learn to reflect, and reminds me to do it.
  • 241: 20 Acts in 60 Minutes

    241: 20 Acts in 60 Minutes

    Subject: English
    School Level: High School
    I've used both the "20 Stories in 60 Minutes" episode and the "Comedians of Christmas" episodes in the classroom as writing models (both with 9th graders). The first was used to illustrate that a complete story could be very short. And the second, specifically Wyatt Cenac's story, was used as a model for adding humor to a writer's voice. You don't know how many times teachers hear the question "can it be funny?" Yes, kids, yes it can.
  • 233: Starting from Scratch

    233: Starting from Scratch

    Subject: English
    School Level: College
    "The First Starting from Scratch" by Jonathan Goldstein is an absolute must hear when I am teaching Milton's Paradise Lost in my British Literature 1 survey. At the end of the class period before students are assigned to begin reading Milton, I hand out a copy of a few pages from Genesis, the Creation Story. We discuss the biblical account in class. I then play Jonathan Goldstein's account for them. I love to play it in class so that I can watch the reactions on my students' faces. After the podcast, we discuss how it differs from the account in Genesis. We discuss what the interpretation suggests about gender roles, about the representation of Satan/the snake, relationships, the representation and repercussions of the Fall, our notions of good/evil/knowledge. Then I send them away explaining that we'll be looking at another writer's "take" on the Fall of Man. His name is John Milton. I hope they enjoy it. "Paradise is Lost," I tell. "Let's go find it."
  • 219: High Speed Chase

    219: High Speed Chase

    Subject: English
    School Level: High School
    I've used the story about the cops chasing the couple (High Speed Chase) when teaching To Kill a Mockingbird. My suburban, mostly white, students in Iowa would walk away from TKAM thinking it was a thing that used to happen long ago in the South. I'd play High Speed Chase and then ask them to find and share an incident of racism that occurred within the last 5 years in Iowa or in a bordering state.
  • 218: Act V

    218: Act V

    Subject: English
    School Level: High School
    Teaching Hamlet
  • 218: Act V

    218: Act V

    Subject: English
    School Level: High School
    I love listening to "Act V" when teaching Hamlet. I'm sure I'm not alone. I've always been struck by a question Jack Hitt raises in the episode: can most people really relate to Hamlet? The plot is weird, and often downright ridiculous. Hamlet is saved from death at the hands of the king of England by the timely arrival of some pirates. Huh? Hamlet's father died, but he's somehow not the king now? And nobody really seems to care? The specifics of Hamlet feel so foreign to my life, and to my students' lives. Listening to Act V lets us have a conversation about the way the play might look to someone who's really grappling with the problems of conscience in the play. After students listen to the episode for homework, they come to class wanting to talk about the interesting personalities of the story - Big Hutch, the prisoner who plays the ghost - but also wanting to grapple with the big questions of the play in a more grounded, real way than is often possible when talking about 500-year-old literature. I like to pair "Act V" with Laura Bohannan's great "Shakespeare in the Bush," in which the author attempts to tell the story of Hamlet to members of the Tiv tribe in Africa. The Tiv elders' understanding of the themes and plot of the play in very different from Bohannan's, a result of different cultural understandings. Both "Act V" and "Shakespeare in the Bush" encourage thought about how universal Hamlet is, what kinds of divides art can overcome, and what kinds it can't. Also, "Act V" is just beautifully structured, well-written, and dramatic. Students get that, and are wowed by the episode as a piece of writing on its own. It is important for young writers to hear how great writing can be.
  • 218: Act V

    218: Act V

    Subject: English
    School Level: College
    What can I say. Those inmates nail the Bard better than anything I've ever seen or heard. Takes my students out of their comfort zone- they love it.
  • 218: Act V

    218: Act V

    Subject: English
    School Level: College
    I teach Shakespeare every semester and whenever students complain about Hamlet's inability to take action and his reluctance and killing Claudius, I tell them about the show and the line when the prisoner says (paraphrasing badly here) it's easy to judge Hamlet if you have never taken a life. But when you have taken the life of another human being, you realize how serious that decision is. He shouldn't be taking it lightly. I first heard that show before the first Shakespeare class I ever taught. That podcast made me approach the play with a level of maturity and empathy that was absent in my readings before. I don't know who that prisoner was, but I think about him a lot. Because the literature I teach was written so long ago, it's easy to approach it as a "text" and "characters on a page." But those texts were written by people who suffered and loved. Those writers knew joy and pain. They wrote hoping to find an audience who would connect on a human level. It's too easy to read these texts as intellectual exercises; it's far more challenging and rewarding to approach great works of literature with compassion and empathy. That prisoner taught me that. I've always wanted to thank him for that.
  • 218: Act V

    218: Act V

    Subject: English
    School Level: High School
    I have written a series of lessons on Shakespeare, and have incorporated the TAM #218 by Jack Hitt on Hamlet, Act V. I am currently undertaking my final practicum placement at an all boys school, with students from a very diverse range of backgrounds. Students that have been relocated from Sudan, Indonesia and China, with Indigenous students and very anglo students and students of other backgrounds who are first, second or third generation from migrants, the classrooms are rather magnificently diverse. Accessing Shakespeare is a challenge in this environment. Using your show, the language and connectedness to the text of Hamlet has been an amazing example to the boys of how meaning is made. Sometimes even if you're not in love with the text to begin with, your show revealed how the boys might discover something truly wonderful about themselves, or about the world beyond their classroom, if they are able to persist and listen. Reading means so much more than viewing words on a page.
  • 218: Act V

    218: Act V

    Subject: English
    School Level: High School
    The next school year I took Mr. Nagro's Shakespeare class. It is by far one of the best classes I took in high school; slackers took it since we didn't have any homework and of course the students interested in the Humanities took it, but by the end of the semester it seemed that almost everyone was pretty glad to be there. Nagro obviously recognized what kind of a group he had and was anxious to help us see that Shakespeare and other "prestigious" names and their works aren't just for scholars, but for everyone. We talked about this a lot more after we listened to episode 218: Act V. The one thing that stuck with a lot of us was when one inmate talked about how he found out he wasn't stupid - just uneducated.
  • 218: Act V

    218: Act V

    Subject: English
    School Level: High School
    I teach Hamlet and the episode you aired of the prisoners performing Hamlet at the maximum security prison in-- I believe-- Mississippi is incredible, moving and powerful. This episode connects kids to the real life of Hamlet and the stories of the prisoners are heart wrenching and so impactful. My high school seniors love it. Thanks for doing the positive powerful work you do. It enriches my work.
  • 218: Act V

    218: Act V

    Subject: English
    School Level: High School
    The TAL story that I've used the most regularly, and to the best student response, is "Act V," about the prison production of Hamlet's Act V. We listen to the whole episode (or as much as a class period can allow) after finishing our study of Hamlet, and the students always listen raptly. It brings such a different perspective for these kids-- fairly privileged tenth-graders-- to view Shakespeare as something that "real people," even felons, can get into. I love it!
  • 218: Act V

    218: Act V

    Subject: English
    School Level: High School
    I have only used one episode in my class (so far!)- Act V, about the prison that puts on a production of Hamlet. I use this during my Hamlet unit with seniors, and it always gives them a different perspective on the play. It shows them how Shakespeare can speak into different cultures and climates, despite the language difficulties.
  • 188: Kid Logic

    188: Kid Logic

    Subject: English
    School Level: College
    Finally, I have an assignment around "Kid Logic" when I'm trying to get students to think more about addressing their audience. I have them listen to the Prologue and Act 1. Then I have them think of something that they encounter every day but never think about how it works. I then have them write a description or explanation of this thing to a kid, but I warn them not to be condescending or to too obviously "dumb things down" for this kid
  • 186: Prom

    186: Prom

    Subject: English
    School Level: Middle School
    I use this with my journalism class to teach the question "What is news?" I love it because they can relate to it and they get really into it. We have a general comprehension discussion then I ask them wether or not it is considered news, and why or why not. It leads to a great discussion because it's news to them, but it's so unconventional (to them) in it's delivery.
  • 178: Superpowers

    178: Superpowers

    Subject: English
    School Level: High School
    Last year, I made them choose flight or invisibility (making definite decisions is difficult for many 15-year-olds, and they had to do this as they entered class in about three seconds), discuss their reasons with each other (working out the superhero-y kinks, making them think about defining the powers, and working them into their real lives), and write a short story about a character who has the power they chose.
  • 172: 24 Hours at the Golden Apple

    172: 24 Hours at the Golden Apple

    Subject: English
    School Level: High School
    I recently came up with the idea of using an episode of This American Life
  • 151: Primary

    151: Primary

    Subject: English
    School Level: High School
    One episode I have used with my AP Language class is the episode where Sarah Vowell reported on how changing one word used by Al Gore created such a backlash. Gore said "That was the one that started it all" and it was reported that he said "I was the one that started it all." I wanted my students to see the power of language and how we need to evaluate our sources for reliability.
  • 132: Father's Day '99

    132: Father's Day '99

    Subject: English
    School Level: High School
    I used Jack Hitt's story of the man who searched the dump for his son's lost Teddy Bear as an introductory brainstorming activity for an "everyday heroes" writing assignment: http://www.brockenglish.com/7/post/2013/08/writers-response-what-makes-a-hero1.html
  • 120: Be Careful Who You Pretend to Be

    120: Be Careful Who You Pretend to Be

    Subject: English
    School Level: College
    I often use excepts from TAL 120 ("Be Careful Who You Pretend to Be") in a course on African American literature. I pair it with Scott Magelssen's scholarly essay about Conner Prairie, and usually the discussion focuses on whether 'interactive history' is an appropriate and/or effective way to learn about slavery. Earlier in the semester we read various slave narratives, and when we get to Conner Prairie students often want to say that reading about slavery is ok but pretending to be a slave is not. But this forces them to articulate *why* that sort of play-acting is really so different from reading a book, and often the discussion also touches on what it is about the nature of slavery that renders it different from others kinds of experiences that might be more appropriate for interactive museums. (I sometimes include Octavia Butler's Kindred in this unit as well, since that also raises those kinds of questions.) Also, Alix Spiegel's writing in her segments of that episode is fantastic. In case it helps, I'll cut-and-paste below a short assignment I sometimes use on the day I assign the TAL excerpts. Magelssen notes that
  • 115: First Day

    115: First Day

    Subject: English, Law
    School Level: College
    "Squirrel Cop" has become something of a legend in my Writing for Law Enforcement classes. I am an English professor who specialized in Medieval and Early Modern Literature. I have absolutely no background in Law Enforcement. So when I was assigned this section, I immediately thought of "Squirrel Cop." I play the podcast in class and have students take notes about as many details as they can. It comes the day after the lesson on "Chronology in Police Report Writing," so the interview is a great example of telling the story in the order the events occur. The most important part, for me as an instructor, is at the end of the podcast when the officer admits that new officers are going to make lots of mistakes. As humorous as the story is, I think his advice at the end helps to alleviate students' anxieties about making mistakes in their writing and their apprehension about entering the work force. Writing can be revised, I remind them. Errors in writing can be corrected. And animals are seldom harmed in the writing process. At least once during the semester, I will pass a former Writing for Law Enforcement student in the hallway and he or she will yell "Squirrel Cop lives!"
  • 115: First Day

    115: First Day

    Subject: English
    School Level: Middle School
    I let students listen to "Squirrel Cop" from episode 115: First Day. I tie it to our study of point of view and character motivation. The comprehension questions tends to ensure students are paying attention to the audio, but the read work lies in the homework assignment. They need to rewrite the story (or at least a section of it) from another character's point of view. Many students tend to write as if they're the squirrel, which makes for some very interesting pieces. It makes a great sub plan too and at the end of the year many students report it was their favorite activity we did all year.
  • 110: Mapping

    110: Mapping

    Subject: English
    School Level: High School
    I wanted to use the Mapping episode, specifically the act about hearing, in my high school English class as part of some sensory language work within a poetry unit.
  • 110: Mapping

    110: Mapping

    Subject: English
    School Level: College
    I teach freshman level writing as an assistant lecturer. The theme for my course is Race & Class in Los Angeles and I played the first 12 minutes of the mapping episode for my students, then read them Ira's introduction in Denis Wood's book, Everything Sings. Then we discussed the maps in that book. Attached you'll find the assignment sheet associated with this lesson. I used the TAL episode to formulate their first essay prompt question for the semester.
  • 111: Adventures in the Simple Life

    111: Adventures in the Simple Life

    Subject: English
    School Level: High School
    I played the Eustace Conway story about traveling across the US on horseback as part of a lesson on Thoreau and naturalism.
  • 80: Running After Antelope

    80: Running After Antelope

    Subject: English
    School Level: College
    The exercise was to read the original story 'The Test,' first in Running with Antelope, and then listen to it in class as read on the show. I used it as an opportunity to discuss tone and authorial intent, and asked students to discuss how they interpreted the tone of the written story versus the audio story.
  • 27: The Cruelty of Children

    27: The Cruelty of Children

    Subject: English
    School Level: Middle School
    I wanted to share that I used the episode "Cruelty of Children" with my 7th grade gifted language arts class. I paired this with the Twilight Zone teleplay "Monsters Are Due On Maple" and the Ray Bradbury short story "All Summer in a Day".
  • 27: The Cruelty of Children

    27: The Cruelty of Children

    Subject: English
    School Level: High School
    The second week of class, we listened to Vivian Paley's classroom experiment ("You can't say you can't play") from episode #27: The Cruelty of Children. Students learned to take Cornell Notes by following along as I modeled the skill, then applied the notetaking system as we watched several other videos exploring the possibilities for classroom learning. Students reflected on the questions "What do we want our classroom to be like?" and "What would my ideal classroom look like?" and supported their thinking with these media texts and printed articles and commentaries. Our work culminated in a Socratic Seminar where we discussed these questions and established some goals for our year together. These activities support Common Core State Standards in every category (Reading, Writing, Language, and Speaking & Listening), and the podcast allowed students to focus on listening skills while learning a college-ready notetaking tool. The work and discussion set a tone for our year and students have risen to their own high expectations for learners.
  • 19: Rich Guys

    19: Rich Guys

    Subject: English
    School Level: College
    Coming up soon, I am going to be using "#1 Party School." My students are learning to write a profile of something

ESL

  • 409: Held Hostage

    409: Held Hostage

    Subject: ESL
    I used to be a full time ESL teacher in South America and in the US and used TAL with my students all the time! I love that it provides a variety of English accents. I think it's a great opportunity for students overseas to get a feel for how people talk in the US - especially since a lot of them have this idea that there is one "right" accent or that there is only one American, one British, one Australian (etc) accept. So I combed through my resources and unfortunately I could only find one. :( It's attached. Hope it's helpful others! I always love sharing with other teachers.
  • 388: Rest Stop

    388: Rest Stop

    Subject: ESL
    School Level: High School
    My name is Alia; I was in the Peace Corps from 2009 to 2011 in Ukraine, where my primary role was a middle school & high school English teacher. After school, I had an English club several times a week for various ages. In one of my advanced-level English club (which included adults and high school students), I played a portion of Act 1 of episode 388 (

Ethics

  • 459: What Kind of Country

    459: What Kind of Country

    Subject: Ethics
    School Level: High School
    I teach New Testament to 10th graders and Ethics to 11th graders at Holy Innocents' Episcopal School in Atlanta. I used the episode "What Kind of Country" in my Ethics class. I designed a guided listening sheet that went along with the first portion of the episode in New Jersey (so the kids could follow along) and then listed major discussion questions for the students to discuss with each other in pairs and then with the class as a whole. We listened to the first portion in New Jersey and the last portion of the episode in Colorado Springs. In addition to the questions listed at the bottom of the attachment, some other essential questions we've discussed were: -Do you think the Colorado Springs plan works? (having residents pay on their own for public services like park upkeep, trash removal, etc.) Why or why not? --Would YOU vote for a tax increase if it meant it would benefit all? Or do you think everyone should be
  • 391: More Is Less

    391: More Is Less

    Subject: Ethics
    School Level: College
    The one place where I explicitly include TAL in the lesson plan is the in my Bioethics course, which students have to listent to both hours of the 2-part episode on US health care system (More is Less and Somebody Else's Money) and then respond to the following question: "Respond to the two episodes of This American Life that examine the current health care system and the efforts to reform it. What ethical conflicts do the various stories illustrate or raise? As each story concludes, how does your understanding of the core principles of the American health care system change? What are those principles, as they exist today? What should they be, do you think? This exercise will be especially interesting if you can live blog your impressions while listening to the programs."
  • 344: The Competition

    344: The Competition

    Subject: Ethics
    School Level: College
    For several years I have used "The Competition" from a 2007 show to spark discussion in my Media Ethics and Law class. The students LOVE that one.

General

  • 506: Secret Identity

    506: Secret Identity

    Subject: General
    School Level: Elementary
    This week's story about the mascot will be a great one to have the students study. I may have them summarize and then recreate the story using ComicBook. Perhaps we will send them to the Tiger to share with her!
  • 484: Doppelgängers

    484: Doppelgängers

    Subject: General
    School Level: High School
    I wanted to tell you that I shared the piece about gun violence and PTSD with my 10th graders at Philomath High School today as part of our "Media Mondays." They usually bring in current event articles and we discuss them. Lately gun control and regulation has been a hot topic and most of my students are against any regulation (many are hunters and own guns). This show really effected them. They thought it was sad and moving and it helped them have a glimpse into what it is like to live in a big city like Philly.
  • 475: Send a Message

    475: Send a Message

    Subject: General
    School Level: Elementary
    I teach 5th grade and adore the show. I used my first episode in class last week, the Sister Rosemary piece by Sonari Glinton from the "Send a Message" show. I shared it with my class because it was a beautiful personal narrative and beautifully illustrated the "small moment" I emphasize with my students in narrative writing. It also brought about a fascinating discussion of religion and race in my classroom.
  • 475: Send a Message

    475: Send a Message

    Subject: General
    School Level: Elementary
    I run an elementary gifted education program in a suburban school district of Kansas City, Mo. Students attend my class for a full day, one day a week, throughout the school year. In my 4th grade class, we have been studying the influences of many great scientists in preparation for our upcoming Science Fair unit in a project titled "Standing on the Shoulders of Giants." The prologue of the TAL episode on Messages was the perfect conversation starter in my class, as many students were completing projects on Galileo and Kepler. What made this particular program so wonderful to share, however, was the inclusion of Latin mistranslations. You see, we also study Latin (at a very beginner level). My students laughed and laughed at Kepler's botched translations and it was reassuring to hear that such a talented Mathematician was a Latin failure. Many of my kids struggle with asynchronous development and learning that great geniuses weren't absolutely brilliant at solving every challenge they faced is a tremendous lesson for my kiddos. Of course, the twist of insane coincidence that came at the end the story when Kepler ACCIDENTALLY discovered that Jupiter had a big red spot was just the delicious icing on the cake! My favorite teaching moment came that day when one of the 9 year old boys in the back of the room (who rarely pays attention) looked up with astonishing eyes and muttered, "That's Mind-blowing!" Yes, yes it was. I am a huge fan of the show and now I find myself racing to the website every week to peruse through the newest episode, in hopes that I will find another gem story to share with all of my new little TAL fans.
  • 474: Back to School

    474: Back to School

    Subject: General
    School Level: Middle School
    I used the ideas in your Back to School episode plus the YouTube clip of Theo to help my students set goals and give themselves character-building encouragements.
  • 474: Back to School

    474: Back to School

    Subject: General
    School Level: Elementary
    Hi! I teach fifth grade (mostly math) in Macon, Georgia and I use TAL whenever I hear something about education and learning. It started with your show featuring The Marshmallow Test. I believe that we are emphasizing the results of learning instead of the process, and this episode helped me convey to my students that intelligence (something they do not have control over) is not as important to learning as will (something they can control). Now, I begin every year with a marshmallow in a Baggie, which they can eat or wait until the afternoon and get a second one.
  • 474: Back to School

    474: Back to School

    Subject: General
    School Level: Elementary
    I have been deeply influenced by one episode of This American Life in particular. Episode 474, "Back To School", affected me as soon as the prologue began. I shared the program with a number of other teachers and thought that would be the end of it. The episode felt like a compendium of source material to back up what each of us felt; that the most important thing we can do as teachers is strengthen who our students are as people so that they can have the tools available to define and pursue their own happiness. Just before the summer began, our school director asked two other teachers and me to spend the summer designing a program to be used in every homeroom class on a daily basis. He told us he wanted a character curriculum that included Angela Duckworth's studies on grit. My co-workers and I agreed immediately that episode 474 was the place to start. From there we all read Paul Tough's book, How Children Succeed. Further research included visiting a KIPP school, reading Martin Seligman's Learned Optimism and The Optimistic Child, James Heckman's actual GED studies, and of course Angela Duckworth. We had the school buy a copy of How Children Succeed for every teacher and made it required summer reading. We played "Back To School" in our first staff meeting to get our colleagues as excited as we were. The program has rolled out this year. It has its flaws and its weaknesses, but it makes explicit what has always been the undertone of what we do. My kids now know that giving up on a task is GED behavior. My kids know that when they just can't wait to blurt something out, that they are eating the marshmallow. We use our program to redefine how we as teachers approach our kids and how we approach our discipline. We use our program to redefine how our kids approach themselves, their community and their education. Our program is in every classroom at our school from grades 6-12. By next year, we hope to have a separate curriculum for each grade. "Back To School" was the inspiration and source material for what we are doing.
  • 450: So Crazy It Just Might Work

    450: So Crazy It Just Might Work

    Subject: General
    School Level: Elementary
    the intro from your "So Crazy It Just Might Work Show" was the provocation for great discussion in my third grade classroom. I teach third grade at an international school in Accra, Ghana and, during a math lesson one day, I mentioned a snippet of what I remembered from that show. (To be honest, I thought I was remembering a Radiolab episode, but the good folks at Radiolab pointed me in your direction...that's another story). Anyway, the students were so interested, that we listened to the story about Frank Nelson Cole the next day, which sparked amazing discussions not only about mathematics (prime numbers, odd and even, problem solving, time, large numbers, etc.) but also about character and life skills (perseverance, failing "well," creativity). In fact, Frank Nelson Cole has made it onto our "significant person" timeline. We are an IB school, which means we talk a lot about our IB Learner Profile. The kids have decided Frank Nelson Cole is definitely an IB Learner because he was an inquirer, risk-taker, thinker, knowledgeable, and a communicator.
  • 449: Middle School

    449: Middle School

    Subject: General
    School Level: Middle School
    I've given my students excerpts of "Life in the Middle Ages." They could relate with Annie, the narrator at the beginning and they liked listening to "Louis Time." This was done during our advisory session on Friday's along with our 2nd Step Unit.
  • 423: The Invention of Money

    423: The Invention of Money

    Subject: General
    School Level: Elementary
    Just this week, I used the prologue from 423: The Invention of Money to introduce a unit on Money with a class of 4th and 5th grade gifted students. We read the transcript while we listened. Other resources I used were videos from www.brainpop.com and the Federal Reserve
  • 414: Right to Remain Silent

    414: Right to Remain Silent

    Subject: General
    School Level: High School
    I teach students with significantly challenging behavior (often paired with diagnoses such as ADHD, Oppositional Defiant Disorder, Conduct Disorder, etc.). These are kids who just can't seem to keep themselves out of trouble. When I heard part one of "Right to Remain Silent", about Joe Lipari, I knew I had to use it in my classroom. We had a terrific discussion about impulsivity, saying/doing things we later regret, and responsible use of social media. They genuinely enjoyed listening to the story, and it made for a great discussion. I couldn't have asked for a more timely or apropos story to use.
  • 403: NUMMI

    403: NUMMI

    Subject: General
    School Level: Middle School
    there was a story about the concept of Kaizen -- always improving. It was in connection with an Asian car company and their philosophy of improvement. Since that story, I have several images of the Kaizen characters in my classroom and use Kaizen as a way to communicate improvement and quality work. I teach the concept behind it. I'm a middle school teacher and this works!
  • 370: Ruining It for the Rest of Us

    370: Ruining It for the Rest of Us

    Subject: General
    School Level: Elementary
    I work in a special education school, grades 6 through 12, with students who have severe emotional and behavioral disorders. It is a challenge to teach them as their behaviors often derail the class. In 2009, I started playing the prologue for them at the beginning of the school year. After we've listened to it, I ask for their reactions. We discuss what happens when one person pulls the rest of the group off task. We also talk about how the group can overcome the negative behavior of one person. Without a doubt, this exercise has improved the behavior of the students in my classes. I think that it opens their eyes to the fact that individual behavior can impact the progress of the group. And when a student begins to exhibit an undesirable behavior, I can often curtail it by saying, "Don't be the bad apple!"
  • 352: The Ghost of Bobby Dunbar

    352: The Ghost of Bobby Dunbar

    Subject: General
    School Level: College
    See attached worksheet
  • 201: Them

    201: Them

    Subject: General
    I used an episode called "Them" to discuss how an Us and Them binary can be created at large in U.S. society and internally. We talked about how this form of "othering" another person or ourselves can be transcended with messy + liberating results, but also how it can be a form of protection.
  • 61: Fiasco!

    61: Fiasco!

    Subject: General
    School Level: Elementary
    I teach 4-6 grade in a Montessori school in Vermont. Every year we write and produce our own play/musical based upon our studies. For most students, it's their first try at acting and in writing scripts. I have played a clip from your show every year on the day after the play. I have them lie down and relax and then put on the segment describing the production of 'Captain Hook' from the Fiascos show. It is the perfect thing for those kids at that time. They have just been through the emotional physical mental trial of the show and they love hearing the description of that disaster as it slowly plays out. They know exactly how those players feel and can also take the part of the audience as its relationship to the show changes over time.

GLBT

  • 220: Testosterone

    220: Testosterone

    Subject: GLBT
    School Level: College
    N/A

Health

  • 505: Use Only as Directed

    505: Use Only as Directed

    Subject: Health
    School Level: High School
    I am a homeschooling mom and have used many episodes over the years. Just used the Tylenol episode for part of my 17yo's health education.
  • 355: The Giant Pool of Money

    355: The Giant Pool of Money

    Subject: Health, Social Studies
    School Level: College
    I am a college professor in Southern California and in my class Health in a Global Society, I ask my students to listen to "The Giant Pool of Money" as a way of setting up for them an understanding of how interconnected the world really is, even if they don't necessarily feel it on a daily basis. My students - even college students - really don't have an interest in or appreciation for financial markets - until they hear this episode, of course. I'd say that even after they listen to it themselves and we go over it in class, they may not understand what CDOs are, but they do get that we live in a very tangled web of relationships and connection that have profound effects on each of us.

History

  • 479: Little War on the Prairie

    479: Little War on the Prairie

    Subject: History
    School Level: College
    N/A
  • 479: Little War on the Prairie

    479: Little War on the Prairie

    Subject: History
    School Level: College
    I used this episode to illustrate the struggles of the Native Americans and the colonists, settlers, pioneers and US government and military. It brings history to life and makes it relevant, as well as giving my students "study materials" that isn't just a reading. I also hope that it turns them on to podcasts.
  • 465: What Happened At Dos Erres

    465: What Happened At Dos Erres

    Subject: History
    School Level: College
    In my History of Latin America class (community college level), I've had the students listen to or read the transcript of What Happened at Dos Erres as homework for the class covering the civil wars in Central America. It provided a good starting point for discussion, and it got across the nature of the wars in a much more vivid manner than I ever could as a lecturer.
  • 455: Continental Breakup

    455: Continental Breakup

    Subject: History
    School Level: High School
    I plan to use Continental Breakup in my AP European history class toward the end of the course. Amazingly accessible explanation of the financial crisis in the EU and how it happened. I was going to have them listen to the podcast and then plan a scored discussion based on 5-6 prompts I will prepare and distribute ahead of time.
  • 449: Middle School

    449: Middle School

    Subject: History
    School Level: Middle School
    I teach 8th grade world history, starting with the Stone Age and ending with the Middle Ages. My first unit was on prehistory and how we learn what happened prior to the invention of writing. We talked about archaeology, fossils, and anthropologists and their study of oral tradition in different communities. To better explain what an oral tradition is, I had my students listen to act five "Blue Kind on the Block" from the Middle School episode. We talked about why it's important to hear Leo's story, how they can relate, and how they think Leo feels now that it's been a few years. Their assignment that night was to ask a parent or friend to tell them a true story about something that had happened in their life or a tradition that they follow that isn't written down. It really reinforced the idea of what an oral tradition in, and how the stories we tell help define who we are.
  • 424: Kid Politics

    424: Kid Politics

    Subject: History
    School Level: High School
    Used whole episode
  • 370: Ruining It for the Rest of Us

    370: Ruining It for the Rest of Us

    Subject: History
    School Level: High School
    I've also used the opening segment of "Ruining it for the Rest of Us" during the first class of the year with my seniors (history seminar) to get them thinking about what makes a good seminar. We then discuss how they can help to make for better discussions (and how they can avoid behaviors that ruin discussions -- how to avoid being that bad apple).
  • 355: The Giant Pool of Money

    355: The Giant Pool of Money

    Subject: History
    School Level: High School
    I use excerpts from "Giant Pool of Money," "Keynes vs. Hayek," Mike Birbiglia's "Sleep Walk with Me," "Flight Vs. Invisibility," a Studs Turkel excerpt, "Hollands Opus," to name a few. I use them in my History 12 class and my Theory of Knowledge class as introductions to concepts and themes for further discussion.
  • 347: Matchmakers

    347: Matchmakers

    Subject: History
    School Level: College
    The narrative about Nubbins, consumerism, and TV trends speaks to our unit on clothing, gender norms, as well as racism in the US. We connect it with the history of popular children
  • 235: The Balloon Goes Up

    235: The Balloon Goes Up

    Subject: History
    School Level: High School
    I've had my students in US history listen to a segment from a show that aired not long after 9/11 - I think it was called "What Peace forgets about war" - it was a segment with an excerpt of an reticle (a long article I might add - because I went and found it) about the World War II. Part talked how about the Vikings would have understood why the war got so savage, and part talked about the battle of Midway. I'm not really sure how students appreciated it, and I had no handouts. But kids, unless they know someone in airway or Afghanistan, always seem to have a sanitized view of war.
  • 216: Give the People What They Want

    216: Give the People What They Want

    Subject: History
    School Level: High School
    I love to play the Jack Hitt segment on the Naming of America the class before Thanksgiving. (Columbus day might be another great opportunity.) I think it sparks some really interesting discussions about how we think about founding moments, about what makes America's early history unique.
  • 200: Hearts and Minds

    200: Hearts and Minds

    Subject: History
    School Level: College
    I have used "Hearts and Minds" on the Arbenz coup in Guatemala a few times over the years in media and radio history classes. It is a wonderful resource for all kinds of lessons involving US involvement in Latin America, the study of propaganda generally etc.
  • 173: Three Kinds of Deception

    173: Three Kinds of Deception

    Subject: History
    School Level: College
    I'm happy to share that my brother-in-law is a college professor in rural Indiana teaching Latin and Roman history and archaeology. Before he takes students to Rome on trips and semesters abroad (many students who have barely left Indiana), he has them listen to David Sedaris' essay featured in Three Kinds of Deception about the loud Americans on the Paris Metro thinking David Sedaris was a pickpocket. It's a great lesson on how not to be an American tourist to those who are new and, perhaps, naive.
  • 38: Simulated Worlds

    38: Simulated Worlds

    Subject: History
    School Level: College
    I used to teach a class on the Middle Ages in Popular Culture, for which I would have the students listen to the story about going to Medieval Times with Michael Camille. It provides a good starting point for a discussion of accuracy and authenticity as the present tries to recreate the past.

Humanities

  • 487: Harper High School, Part One

    487: Harper High School, Part One

    Subject: Humanities
    School Level: College

    My research is on genocide and atrocities, but I also teach a first year course on the humanities. The subject of my course is human nature, obviously. We use classic texts to try and discern the writers' particular understanding of human nature. One of the texts that I have used for years is On the Souls of Black Folk by WEB Dubois. This year I also had them listen to your podcast on Harper high school in conjunction with this text. I usually ask them to write essays that ask them to assess how far we've come with his vision. In years past, I have been frustrated by their naïve misguided presumptions that we live in an era of educational equality, based on merit alone. And while I have tried to address this in class, it has been frustrating. After hearing that podcasts, I required them all to listen to it before they wrote their essays. I did not ask them to include it in the essay, or to write about the podcast. I just asked them to listen to it before they wrote. Wow! Nearly every one of my students included some reference to this podcast in their essay.

    I can't tell you what a difference this made. Not only did this affect the way they saw WEB DuBois, it has turned out to be the single most influential piece of the entire course. I am in the midst of reading their final reflections and well over half of my students have made reference to this podcast. This was one of the most effective wake-up calls of their young lives. You struck a perfect balance between giving raw data, which is never that effective on its own for kids this age, and giving them the story and narrative behind the data.

  • 487: Harper High School, Part One

    487: Harper High School, Part One

    Subject: Humanities
    School Level: College
    We use classic texts to try and discern the writers' particular understanding of human nature. One of the texts that I have used for years is "On the Souls of Black Folk" by WEB Dubois. This year I also had them listen to your podcast on Harper high school in conjunction with this text. I usually ask them to write essays that ask them to assess how far we've come with his vision. In years past, I have been frustrated by their na

Law

  • 441: When Patents Attack!

    441: When Patents Attack!

    Subject: Business, Law
    School Level: College
    I am requiring my students to listen to When Patents Attack (both episodes)
  • 418: Toxie

    418: Toxie

    Subject: Business, Law
    School Level: College
    I teach business law at Salisbury University in Maryland, and have used two episodes regularly in my classes. The first is Toxie, the Toxic Asset, which explores the mortgage crisis, and the second is the one that explains the financial meltdown, entitled Eat My Shorts. Both make a complex and difficult topic understandable.
  • 210: Perfect Evidence

    210: Perfect Evidence

    Subject: Law, Psychology
    School Level: College
    N/A
  • 115: First Day

    115: First Day

    Subject: English, Law
    School Level: College
    "Squirrel Cop" has become something of a legend in my Writing for Law Enforcement classes. I am an English professor who specialized in Medieval and Early Modern Literature. I have absolutely no background in Law Enforcement. So when I was assigned this section, I immediately thought of "Squirrel Cop." I play the podcast in class and have students take notes about as many details as they can. It comes the day after the lesson on "Chronology in Police Report Writing," so the interview is a great example of telling the story in the order the events occur. The most important part, for me as an instructor, is at the end of the podcast when the officer admits that new officers are going to make lots of mistakes. As humorous as the story is, I think his advice at the end helps to alleviate students' anxieties about making mistakes in their writing and their apprehension about entering the work force. Writing can be revised, I remind them. Errors in writing can be corrected. And animals are seldom harmed in the writing process. At least once during the semester, I will pass a former Writing for Law Enforcement student in the hallway and he or she will yell "Squirrel Cop lives!"

Leadership

  • 403: NUMMI

    403: NUMMI

    Subject: Business, Leadership
    School Level: College
    I use the NUMMI episode of TAL to illustrate the importance of creating a proper work environment. The class I teach is a leadership class for undergraduates, and the episode
  • 403: NUMMI

    403: NUMMI

    Subject: Business, Leadership
    School Level: College
    403: Nummi is an excellent case study for Operations Management courses and should be considered as such.
  • 386: Fine Print

    386: Fine Print

    Subject: Business, Leadership
    School Level: College
    I
  • 370: Ruining It for the Rest of Us

    370: Ruining It for the Rest of Us

    Subject: Business, Leadership
    School Level: College
    For Venue Management
  • 61: Fiasco!

    61: Fiasco!

    Subject: Business, Leadership
    School Level: College
    I

Literature

  • 483: Self-Improvement Kick

    483: Self-Improvement Kick

    Subject: English, Literature
    School Level: High School
    I wanted to share my thanks for your recent program on the charter cities in Honduras. I used the radio story as a springboard for a very engaging and thoughtful conversation with my 10th grade World Literature classes; we are currently studying Imperialism, and this story provided an interesting way to consider similar themes in today's global society.

Math

  • 486: Valentine's Day

    486: Valentine's Day

    Subject: Math
    School Level: High School
    My students aren't necessarily interested in probability or in aliens, but they are interested in finding dates. The MIT students help bring the equation home.
  • 450: So Crazy It Just Might Work

    450: So Crazy It Just Might Work

    Subject: Math
    School Level: Elementary
    I teach third grade at an international school in Accra, Ghana and, during a math lesson one day, I mentioned a snippet of what I remembered from that show. (To be honest, I thought I was remembering a Radiolab episode, but the good folks at Radiolab pointed me in your direction...that's another story). Anyway, the students were so interested, that we listened to the story about Frank Nelson Cole the next day, which sparked amazing discussions not only about mathematics (prime numbers, odd and even, problem solving, time, large numbers, etc.) but also about character and life skills (perseverance, failing "well," creativity). In fact, Frank Nelson Cole has made it onto our "significant person" timeline.
  • 450: So Crazy It Just Might Work

    450: So Crazy It Just Might Work

    Subject: Math
    School Level: High School
    I use this story [the Prologue] to demonstrate the nature of math exploration. It can take many attempts to get a problem right, failure is OK as long as you learn from it and it is through effort that you become a better mathematician.
  • 374: Somewhere Out There

    374: Somewhere Out There

    Subject: Math
    School Level: High School
    I've used many episodes in my IB Theory of Knowledge class. The central question for the course is "how do we know what we know?" This course is similar to a philosophy course, but instead of the classical approach, we look at ways of knowing (emotion, reason, language, & sensory perception) and apply them to the areas of knowledge (math, natural and social sciences, history, arts, & ethics). So for math & emotion, I used the prologue to Somewhere Out There and another prologue where a mathematician disproves a long-held theory about prime #s.

Media

  • 487: Harper High School, Part One

    487: Harper High School, Part One

    Subject: Media
    School Level: College
    Tied into Video Game Lecture and Gatekeeping
  • 454: Mr. Daisey and the Apple Factory

    454: Mr. Daisey and the Apple Factory

    Subject: Media
    School Level: College
    With the Mike Daisey story, there was a failure at the gatekeeping level. Now aspects of the story are true, but then the misinformation or error becomes the new story. It also hurts the creditably of TAL, but at the same time TAL did everything right in the PR playbook. Around the same period of time there was the BP oil spill in the Gulf. So I can compare how BP did everything wrong and TAL, and even Apple, did everything right in reference to PR. But I also talked about the hidden cost in our technology (labor and ewaste) and the history with artificial obsolesce and branding. Humans survived centuries upon centuries when our only technology was fire and a pointy stick and now we need a new iPhone every other year at most.
  • 454: Mr. Daisey and the Apple Factory

    454: Mr. Daisey and the Apple Factory

    Subject: Media
    School Level: College
    I also use Mike Daisy and the Chinese iphone factory in my mass media classes. Honestly, that got even better as a teaching tool when the problems with the first episode were discovered. We listen to both the first episode as well as the second episode when Daisy returns to TAL and discuss a host of media related issues. It
  • 441: When Patents Attack!

    441: When Patents Attack!

    Subject: Media
    School Level: College
    Longtail economic model
  • 173: Three Kinds of Deception

    173: Three Kinds of Deception

    Subject: Media
    School Level: College
    (act 2) Race and culture, gatekeeping, owning/creating messages, diversity behind the scenes

Performing Arts

  • 268: My Experimental Phase

    268: My Experimental Phase

    Subject: Art, Performing Arts
    School Level: High School
    I use the episode about Curly Oxide. I teach a rock/funk based curriculum at a performing arts high school in Ohio. We use the episode to discuss the value of persona vs song writing.
  • 104: Music Lessons

    104: Music Lessons

    Subject: Art, Performing Arts
    School Level: High School
    I also use the David Serdaris family jazz band episode just for pure entertainment with the kids and to talk about how to practice and what it is like to teach lessons for a living.

Philosophy

  • 423: The Invention of Money

    423: The Invention of Money

    Subject: Philosophy
    School Level: College
    I was incredibly excited to bring a This American Life episode into my Persons, Moral Values, and Good Life introduction to Philosophy class during the Fall 2012 semester at Penn State University. The prologue to episode 423: The Invention of Money dovetailed nicely with our readings from Marx's Communist Manifesto. More specifically, the prologue to the episode helped my students understand Marx's conception of money (or capital) as an abstract commodity. Additionally, they really enjoyed the introduction of multi-media into the classroom.

Political Science

  • 461: Take the Money and Run for Office

    461: Take the Money and Run for Office

    Subject: Political Science, Science
    School Level: College
    I'm a professor of Political Science and used the "money and politics" episode in intro to american politics. I might have episode name wrong but it opens with a member of congress dial for dollars. The students referenced that podcast throughout the semester. It connected campaigns and elections, theories or politics (elite, pluralism, etc) and gridlock well
  • 461: Take the Money and Run for Office

    461: Take the Money and Run for Office

    Subject: Political Science, Science
    School Level: College
    I use the podcast during the chapter that we discuss Congress. There is a short section on campaign finance, so this episode fits right in. Students are asked to listen and write a short response to talk about the reforms they would like to see to campaign finance. Overall, they really enjoy this assignment. It
  • 320: What's In A Number? — 2006 Edition

    320: What's In A Number? — 2006 Edition

    Subject: Political Science, Science
    School Level: College
    This is one of the few instances I know of where an issue of statistical methodology was given lengthy consideration, placed firmly into political and historical context, and unfurled in an engaging, accessible narrative. Trust me, that can be hard to do with statistics, but the specific subject matter is inherently dramatic - and of course the TAL storytelling serves to make what could be a drab technical subject into a compelling lesson. I incorporated this into a lesson on survey sampling. This would be of use to anyone who is teaching basic statistics, or any social science research design-related course that needs to cover sampling, but especially survey research. Maybe of use to folks studying policy analysis, international development and security studies-related courses. In terms of specific, concrete points it gets across well: 1) It illustrates why random sampling is so important and how politically unstable and economically less developed contexts can make it particularly tough to accomplish in practice. 2) Gives a specific example of cluster sampling 3) Illustrates the simple fact that statistics don't just fall from the sky - a technically adept person has to go out and systematically collect them, and getting it right really is important. 4) It illustrates the basic concept that any estimate comes with a degree of uncertainty, derived from the sample size (among other elements of the research design). 5) Just as important as the above, it drives the point home that even if you've done everything right you still have to be aware of your audience and the political climate. Those with less statistical literacy and/or their own agendas may be inclined to doubt, so communicating results effectively, and perhaps strategically, can be very important.

Psychology

  • 505: Use Only as Directed

    505: Use Only as Directed

    Subject: Psychology
    School Level: College
    Pain (and management of pain)
  • 504: How I Got Into College

    504: How I Got Into College

    Subject: Psychology
    School Level: High School
    I recently used the latest episode, "How I Got Into College." I had students first recall a memory they had as a child. I then had them ask their parents what their recollection of that same memory was. We then compared notes and some of the discrepancies were humorous. I then played the episode in which we stopped the episode periodically and l made sure the students were keeping track of the story. Once the 'reveal' at the end of the episode came in, we compared notes and hypothesized why we construct memories the way we do.
  • 503: I Was Just Trying To Help

    503: I Was Just Trying To Help

    Subject: Psychology
    School Level: College
    Research methods
  • 501: The View From In Here

    501: The View From In Here

    Subject: Psychology
    School Level: College
    Conformity and obedience (including Standford Prison Experiment)
  • 492: Dr. Gilmer and Mr. Hyde

    492: Dr. Gilmer and Mr. Hyde

    Subject: Psychology
    School Level: College
    I'm a psychologist compiling notes for an introduction to psychology course for the upcoming fall semester. I heard the "Dr. Gilmer and Mr. Hyde" on the radio and have since downloaded it. I've listened to this story a few times, and the latter half of the podcast seems like it would be a very interesting supplement to a lecture I'd like to give on psychological disorders and the brain.
  • 492: Dr. Gilmer and Mr. Hyde

    492: Dr. Gilmer and Mr. Hyde

    Subject: Psychology
    School Level: College
    Course Topic: Legal & Ethical Issues in Abnormal Psychology
  • 492: Dr. Gilmer and Mr. Hyde

    492: Dr. Gilmer and Mr. Hyde

    Subject: Psychology
    School Level: Graduate School
    I used Ep. 492, "Dr. Gilmer and Mr. Hyde." I have taught Advanced Psychopathology to Masters-level students at University of Houston-Clear Lake and at University of Mary Hardin-Baylor. I usually ask the students to take notes from the beginning and refer to the DSM to try and come up with a diagnosis. We stop at the break and discuss the students' hypotheses. After listening to the rest of the episode, we discuss the case in full, and I refer them to the often neglected part of the DSM that discusses Huntington's Disorder. It's a great illustration of the complexities of mental health diagnosis and how things are often not what they seem to be.
  • 492: Dr. Gilmer and Mr. Hyde

    492: Dr. Gilmer and Mr. Hyde

    Subject: Psychology
    School Level: College
    The nervous system (and disorders)
  • 484: Doppelgängers

    484: Doppelgängers

    Subject: Psychology
    School Level: High School
    To show what PTSD is, I made a power point presentation to go along with the story of the soldier back from the mid east struggling with hyper vigilance when driving by palm trees in Florida.
  • 484: Doppelgängers

    484: Doppelgängers

    Subject: Psychology
    School Level: College
    I taught Psychiatric Nursing and used the Podcast episode "Doppelgangers" in the classroom. I assigned my students to listen to Act 2- "In country, In city" to give my students a better understanding of what a patient experiences when managing symptoms of PTSD. Also, I really wanted the students to understand that PTSD is not only something experienced by war veterans. I thought that Curtis Jefferson's story was particularly compelling, and I hoped to increase understanding and empathy among my students for individuals who come from violent backgrounds, particularly in urban areas. My student population was mostly caucasian, upper middle class students, and one of my main goals in this course was to broaden their perspectives. Of course, understanding and empathy are key to good nursing care. Anyways, I led a classroom discussion about this podcast, and it was very effective. The parallels drawn between the 2 main contributors were poignant, and my students expressed surprise, increased awareness, and some amount of paradigm shift after listening to this podcast. Many students said they hadn't considered someone from violent inner cities to have PTSD, and that they would be more aware in the future. Also,I included this essay question on their exam: Short Answer (6 points): From the Podcast, In Country, In City (Act 2 of Doppelgangers from This American Life), select one of the main characters:
  • 476: What Doesn't Kill You

    476: What Doesn't Kill You

    Subject: Psychology
    School Level: College
    N/A
  • 476: What Doesn't Kill You

    476: What Doesn't Kill You

    Subject: Psychology
    School Level: College
    N/A
  • 474: Back to School

    474: Back to School

    Subject: Psychology
    School Level: College
    Stress
  • 466: Blackjack

    466: Blackjack

    Subject: Psychology
    School Level: College
    Addiction
  • 462: Own Worst Enemy

    462: Own Worst Enemy

    Subject: Psychology
    School Level: College
    N/A
  • 458: Play the Part

    458: Play the Part

    Subject: Diversity, Psychology
    School Level: College
    I teach an upper division elective undergrad class at UCLA called "Perspectives on Autism and Neurodiversity," cross-listed between the Psychology department and Disability Studies minor. I have played the story from Karen and Dave Fincher, "Wife Lessons" from Ep 405 to spur discussion about the "extreme male brain theory" of autism that was really popular for a while in the research field and is still common in popular understandings of high-functioning autism (is Dave just like a typical guy, but more so?). I also use it to illustrate how people might use diagnoses such as Aspergers to make sense of their own lives... It's a perfect way to illustrate the "lived experience" of neurological difference. I've taught the class for three summers and the students always love the podcast and it always leads to a really interesting engagement with class material, so thank you!
  • 436: The Psychopath Test

    436: The Psychopath Test

    Subject: Psychology
    School Level: College
    Course Topic: Psychopathy & Antisocial Personality Disorder
  • 419: Petty Tyrant

    419: Petty Tyrant

    Subject: Psychology
    School Level: College
    I used the tyrant episode (about the head of maintenance in a school district) to demonstrate personality disorders in my college level course in personality psychology. We listened to that segment in class.
  • 401: Parent Trap

    401: Parent Trap

    Subject: Psychology
    School Level: College
    N/A
  • 379: Return To The Scene Of The Crime

    379: Return To The Scene Of The Crime

    Subject: Psychology
    School Level: College
    N/A
  • 374: Somewhere Out There

    374: Somewhere Out There

    Subject: Psychology
    School Level: College
    N/A
  • 374: Somewhere Out There

    374: Somewhere Out There

    Subject: Psychology
    School Level: College
    N/A
  • 361: Fear of Sleep

    361: Fear of Sleep

    Subject: Psychology
    School Level: College
    Episode: 361, Act 1 (Fear of Sleep, Stranger in the Night) - Mike Birbiglia Course Topic: Sleep Disorders Note: This used to be tangentially related to the course material (never stopped me from playing this act - students *love* it!) but the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual's 5th edition (DSM-5; May 2013) now includes REM Sleep Behavior Disorder as a psychological/psychiatric diagnosis
  • 361: Fear of Sleep

    361: Fear of Sleep

    Subject: Psychology
    School Level: College
    N/A
  • 361: Fear of Sleep

    361: Fear of Sleep

    Subject: Psychology
    School Level: College
    In my General Psychology class, I include a link to the Fear of Sleep episode and in class, I describe Mike Birbiglia
  • 328: What I Learned from Television

    328: What I Learned from Television

    Subject: Psychology
    School Level: College
    In a Social Psychology course, I've also used an interview with J.J. Abrams and piece from David Rakoff about the rise of television as an entertainment medium and substitute for social interaction (ersatz interaction as it is known).
  • 317: Unconditional Love

    317: Unconditional Love

    Subject: Psychology
    School Level: College
    to discuss how our perceptions of normality is shaped by the cultural context in which we live
  • 317: Unconditional Love

    317: Unconditional Love

    Subject: Psychology
    School Level: College
    I used the story you ran in your "Unconditional Love" episode about the boy who was adopted from a Romanian orphanage in my college-level Developmental Psychology class. The story related to many things we'd discussed in class, particularly parent-child attachment and the effects of early social deprivation on development.
  • 247: What Is This Thing?

    247: What Is This Thing?

    Subject: Psychology
    School Level: College
    N/A
  • 220: Testosterone

    220: Testosterone

    Subject: Psychology
    School Level: College
    N/A
  • 220: Testosterone

    220: Testosterone

    Subject: Psychology
    School Level: College
    In a Social Psychology course, I used the interview with a transgendered male about his experience with testosterone therapy. We then discuss how testosterone can color virtually every experience.
  • 220: Testosterone

    220: Testosterone

    Subject: Psychology
    School Level: College
    N/A
  • 210: Perfect Evidence

    210: Perfect Evidence

    Subject: Law, Psychology
    School Level: College
    N/A
  • 204: 81 Words

    204: 81 Words

    Subject: Psychology
    School Level: College
    to discuss the flawedness of our human judgements in diagnosing mental illness.
  • 204: 81 Words

    204: 81 Words

    Subject: Psychology
    School Level: College
    I plan to also integrate episode 204 (81 Words) into my teaching to illustrate controversies in the DSM
  • 204: 81 Words

    204: 81 Words

    Subject: Psychology
    School Level: College
    N/A
  • 204: 81 Words

    204: 81 Words

    Subject: Psychology
    School Level: College
    In my Psychology of Human Sexuality class and in my Gender Studies class, I include a link to the 81 Words episode as a terrific inside look into the removal of homosexuality from the DSM, including the political pressures within and outside of the American Psychiatric Association.
  • 204: 81 Words

    204: 81 Words

    Subject: Psychology
    School Level: College
    In the past, I have taught a college level course entitled "Dynamics of Personal Adjustment." We have a chapter on sexuality which includes a discussion about the previous classification of homosexuality as a mental illness. As an optional assignment, I encouraged students to listen to the episode: 81 words. Many engaged in this optional assignment, and we had an excellent discussion about the intersection of culture, science, and activism.
  • 204: 81 Words

    204: 81 Words

    Subject: Psychology
    School Level: College
    Homosexuality (and/or the DSM)
  • 188: Kid Logic

    188: Kid Logic

    Subject: Psychology
    School Level: College
    N/A
  • 71: Defying Sickness

    71: Defying Sickness

    Subject: Psychology
    School Level: College
    N/A
  • 71: Defying Sickness

    71: Defying Sickness

    Subject: Psychology
    School Level: College
    N/A
  • 27: The Cruelty of Children

    27: The Cruelty of Children

    Subject: Psychology
    School Level: College
    N/A

Religion

  • 340: The Devil in Me

    340: The Devil in Me

    Subject: Religion
    School Level: Elementary
    I've used several episodes when teaching Sunday School. Does that count? I've used "Devil in me" and the one with the moth storyteller talking about her Lawyer dad with the his-her matching porsches who goes to jail for fraud. I know of several clergy that use TAL regularly in sermons (myself included). Also, I've used it to spur discussion with my kids.

Science

  • 461: Take the Money and Run for Office

    461: Take the Money and Run for Office

    Subject: Political Science, Science
    School Level: College
    I'm a professor of Political Science and used the "money and politics" episode in intro to american politics. I might have episode name wrong but it opens with a member of congress dial for dollars. The students referenced that podcast throughout the semester. It connected campaigns and elections, theories or politics (elite, pluralism, etc) and gridlock well
  • 461: Take the Money and Run for Office

    461: Take the Money and Run for Office

    Subject: Political Science, Science
    School Level: College
    I use the podcast during the chapter that we discuss Congress. There is a short section on campaign finance, so this episode fits right in. Students are asked to listen and write a short response to talk about the reforms they would like to see to campaign finance. Overall, they really enjoy this assignment. It
  • 450: So Crazy It Just Might Work

    450: So Crazy It Just Might Work

    Subject: Science
    School Level: High School
    N/A
  • 450: So Crazy It Just Might Work

    450: So Crazy It Just Might Work

    Subject: Science
    School Level: Middle School
    I am a science teacher. I haven't made a lesson plan for it yet, but when I listened to the episode 450 "So crazy it just might work" the Mr. Holland's opus section, I thought that it could be great for students. I like that it shows the point of view of a scientist and a non-scientist, that real science is not as clear cut as the stories we read about in textbooks, that it talked about the importance of variables and controls in experiments, and that the scientist in the story talked about how results are not valid if you are not careful about your controls (which is a really hard concept to understand.)
  • 320: What's In A Number? — 2006 Edition

    320: What's In A Number? — 2006 Edition

    Subject: Political Science, Science
    School Level: College
    This is one of the few instances I know of where an issue of statistical methodology was given lengthy consideration, placed firmly into political and historical context, and unfurled in an engaging, accessible narrative. Trust me, that can be hard to do with statistics, but the specific subject matter is inherently dramatic - and of course the TAL storytelling serves to make what could be a drab technical subject into a compelling lesson. I incorporated this into a lesson on survey sampling. This would be of use to anyone who is teaching basic statistics, or any social science research design-related course that needs to cover sampling, but especially survey research. Maybe of use to folks studying policy analysis, international development and security studies-related courses. In terms of specific, concrete points it gets across well: 1) It illustrates why random sampling is so important and how politically unstable and economically less developed contexts can make it particularly tough to accomplish in practice. 2) Gives a specific example of cluster sampling 3) Illustrates the simple fact that statistics don't just fall from the sky - a technically adept person has to go out and systematically collect them, and getting it right really is important. 4) It illustrates the basic concept that any estimate comes with a degree of uncertainty, derived from the sample size (among other elements of the research design). 5) Just as important as the above, it drives the point home that even if you've done everything right you still have to be aware of your audience and the political climate. Those with less statistical literacy and/or their own agendas may be inclined to doubt, so communicating results effectively, and perhaps strategically, can be very important.

Social Studies

  • 507: Confessions

    507: Confessions

    Subject: Social Studies
    School Level: College
    I am teaching criminology next term and will likely use the recent episode on Confessions.
  • 506: Secret Identity

    506: Secret Identity

    Subject: Social Studies
    School Level: College
    Today our US/Mexico border studies seminar ("Living on the Frontera," University of Richmond Sophomore Scholars program) will be discussing Alma Guillermoprieto's New Yorker piece from 9/29/2003, "A Hundred Women," pubished at the 10-year annivesary of the start of the Ju
  • 504: How I Got Into College

    504: How I Got Into College

    Subject: Social Studies
    School Level: High School
    We teach a class for 9th and 10th graders called American Historiography. On its surface, it's the study of how history has been told through different lenses and the impact those various histories have on how Americans see ourselves and others. We're also going to ask students to tell their own stories as well, both about historic events and their own lives. We want to give them the experience of making choices about tone, perspective, and exclusion that all storytellers have to face. Throughout the course we're planning to use "How I Got Into College" (Acts 2 and 3) to discuss how the stories we tell shape our perspective on our lives and why we cling to them so steadfastly. (Lucky for us, Michael Lewis practically teaches the class for us by the end of that episode.)
  • 498: The One Thing You're Not Supposed To Do

    498: The One Thing You're Not Supposed To Do

    Subject: Social Studies
    School Level: College
    Most recently, this semester my students listened to act one of E.498 (The One Thing You're Not Supposed to Do). We were talking about tactics used in social movements and they were blown away by that particular tactic.
  • 487: Harper High School, Part One

    487: Harper High School, Part One

    Subject: Social Studies
    School Level: College
    I've also offered listening to and writing a reflection on relevant episodes as extra credit. I've done this with E. 461 and the Harper High School episodes.
  • 487: Harper High School, Part One

    487: Harper High School, Part One

    Subject: Social Studies
    School Level: High School
    Example of the Social Construction of Reality and also socialization
  • 479: Little War on the Prairie

    479: Little War on the Prairie

    Subject: Social Studies
    School Level: Middle School
    Last year, I used your episode on the US Dakota Conflict (I live and teach in Minnesota) and actually contacted Gwen Westerman who helped me create some cool curriculum to go along with the unit.
  • 475: Send a Message

    475: Send a Message

    Subject: Social Studies
    School Level: High School
    Understanding Symbolic Interactionism: http://sociologysal.blogspot.com/2012/10/sending-message-about-symbolic.html
  • 469: Hiding in Plain Sight

    469: Hiding in Plain Sight

    Subject: Social Studies
    School Level: College
    In the introductory course, I've used the story of the one-armed woman in E. 469 (Hiding in Plain Sight) to illustrate the concept of "master status."
  • 461: Take the Money and Run for Office

    461: Take the Money and Run for Office

    Subject: Social Studies
    School Level: College
    In an upper division course on social order and social change, I've used E. 461 - Take the Money and Run for Office - In a previous semester, we listened to the prologue and act one and discussed it
  • 461: Take the Money and Run for Office

    461: Take the Money and Run for Office

    Subject: Social Studies
    School Level: High School
    I plan to use Take the Money and Run for Office this Friday in my US Government & Economics class. I am teaching a unit on the American political system and plan to use this lesson to help my students understand the role of money in politics. I will likely give students the transcript of the story and play them the audio recording so that they can both see it and hear it. Most likely I will stop the episode between its natural breaks and ask some clarifying questions to ensure that students are absorbing the content.
  • 461: Take the Money and Run for Office

    461: Take the Money and Run for Office

    Subject: Social Studies
    School Level: High School
    Tonight my students had to listen to (or read the transcript for) the prologue & Act 1 while answering some questions I prepared for them. We had already talked about interest groups, PACs and Super PACs - more of a general overview. Tomorrow, they'll use their newly acquired knowledge in a lecture/discussion on campaign financing -- then I included the 15 minute segment on Super PACs and they will listen to McCain and Feingold lament the Citizens United decision. This is the first year that I've assigned something like this for homework because it's the first year that all of my students have internet access at home (self reported). I plan to use some of NPRs radio stories about bail/ bail bondsmen in TX and juvenile detention facilities with my Law class next semester. Keep doing the great work that you do! If you're putting together resources for teachers I'd be happy to share the assignment for others to use. Here's a link to it: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1FTWaY98ta5drLWBrFTL9z5RRgWm77T3-SZT5U5q_zr0/edit?usp=sharing
  • 457: What I Did For Love

    457: What I Did For Love

    Subject: Social Studies
    School Level: High School
    Deviance, The Labeling Theory, and understanding William Chambliss's The Saints and Roughnecks http://sociologysal.blogspot.com/2008/04/deviance.html
  • 454: Mr. Daisey and the Apple Factory

    454: Mr. Daisey and the Apple Factory

    Subject: Social Studies
    School Level: High School
    I also used Mr. Daisey and the Apple Factory and the Retraction ... we listed to the original when it first came out, again in Globalization, but then listened to the retraction. It caused an incredibly interesting conversation about truth, sourcing, etc.
  • 454: Mr. Daisey and the Apple Factory

    454: Mr. Daisey and the Apple Factory

    Subject: Social Studies
    School Level: High School
    We're also planning to use both "Mr. Daisey and the Apple Factory" and "Retraction" to discuss the difference between fact and truth and to have kids think about storytelling responsibility in both the arts and journalism.
  • 454: Mr. Daisey and the Apple Factory

    454: Mr. Daisey and the Apple Factory

    Subject: Social Studies
    School Level: Middle School
    I used "Mr. Daisy and the Apple Factory" with my 8th grade Global Studies class...and then I used the retraction episode to do a lesson on making mistakes. :(
  • 454: Mr. Daisey and the Apple Factory

    454: Mr. Daisey and the Apple Factory

    Subject: Social Studies
    School Level: High School
    Grade 12
  • 449: Middle School

    449: Middle School

    Subject: Social Studies
    School Level: High School
    Why is it such a difficult stage? What is unique about middle school? What is needed to address their developmental needs? Skip act 3 and go to act 4-32 minutes
  • 436: The Psychopath Test

    436: The Psychopath Test

    Subject: Social Studies
    School Level: High School
    N/A
  • 424: Kid Politics

    424: Kid Politics

    Subject: Social Studies
    School Level: College
    In a unit on Climate Change in a Social Problems course, I used the interview between a Climatologist and a 15 year old girl. We followed up that interview with what influences our choices to believe particular evidence.
  • 423: The Invention of Money

    423: The Invention of Money

    Subject: Social Studies
    School Level: High School
    I used The Lie that Saved Brazil in my 12th grade Globalization course. We were looking at the issue of money, globally and the students were fascinated by the story that was told.
  • 258: Leaving the Fold

    258: Leaving the Fold

    Subject: Social Studies
    School Level: College
    I often mention show #258 Leaving the Fold Act 3: Nuns Amok because it delves into Catholics in Appalachia and features Helen Lewis who is known as the grandmother of Appalachian Studies.
  • 370: Ruining It for the Rest of Us

    370: Ruining It for the Rest of Us

    Subject: Social Studies
    School Level: High School
    Use just the prologue for discussion on group dynamics
  • 370: Ruining It for the Rest of Us

    370: Ruining It for the Rest of Us

    Subject: Social Studies
    School Level: College
    N/A
  • 369: Poultry Slam 2008

    369: Poultry Slam 2008

    Subject: Social Studies
    School Level: College
    I used "A Pastor and his Flock" from "Poultry Slam 2008" in teaching my class about labor activism in the foodchain. We also watched Edward R. Murrow's 1960 report "Harvest of Shame" in class.
  • 364: Going Big

    364: Going Big

    Subject: Social Studies
    School Level: High School
    I've used lots of bits and pieces, but one that worked well was part one of "Going Big" with Paul Tough and Geoffrey Canada. I used it in (high school) sociology in a poverty unit. While the students and I are listening in the classroom, we're simultaneously having a online discussion using todaysmeet.com about the issues in the story. I ask questions and clarify any confusion for them, while they respond to the issues, ask questions of each other, etc. It's great!
  • 364: Going Big

    364: Going Big

    Subject: Social Studies
    School Level: College
    In a unit about poverty in a Social Problems course, I've used Paul Tough's work with Geoffrey Canada about early and urban education.
  • 362: Got You Pegged

    362: Got You Pegged

    Subject: Social Studies
    School Level: High School
    Stereotypes. You can see the blog I use for class which links to the story and puts it into the context of the class: http://sociologysal.blogspot.com/2012/09/a-stereotype-or-just-category.html
  • 355: The Giant Pool of Money

    355: The Giant Pool of Money

    Subject: Social Studies
    School Level: High School
    I wove into my US Government class. Often when we would listen to pieces of TAL - I ask them to do the equivalent of RSAnimate, on paper while they listen. Jot things down, find connections, sketch, whatever... generally, it keeps them listening for key concepts, gives them a place to jot down questions and doodle ... I rarely assign this as homework, listening is hard for a video generation, we tend to listen together and I give them something to do while listening. I don't do this more than once a quarter, in each class... and we would never listen to an entire episode together, but chunks of it... and then time for discussion and processing with the room.
  • 355: The Giant Pool of Money

    355: The Giant Pool of Money

    Subject: Health, Social Studies
    School Level: College
    I am a college professor in Southern California and in my class Health in a Global Society, I ask my students to listen to "The Giant Pool of Money" as a way of setting up for them an understanding of how interconnected the world really is, even if they don't necessarily feel it on a daily basis. My students - even college students - really don't have an interest in or appreciation for financial markets - until they hear this episode, of course. I'd say that even after they listen to it themselves and we go over it in class, they may not understand what CDOs are, but they do get that we live in a very tangled web of relationships and connection that have profound effects on each of us.
  • 355: The Giant Pool of Money

    355: The Giant Pool of Money

    Subject: Social Studies
    School Level: College
    The quarter of the course that I taught is focused around foundational works of social theory that have something to do with the origins and structure of modern civil society, and the nature of capitalism in particular. We read Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Adam Smith, Karl Marx and Max Weber, and finished off the quarter by listening to an interview with Michael Lewis on Fresh Air, and five episodes of This American Life - The Giant Pool of Money, The Return to the Giant Pool of Money, The Watchmen, Nummi and Inside Job. I also had an optional final meeting, during which we listened to and discussed The Invention of Money. Our classes generally revolved around questions about what modern civil society is, whether it's good for us and what it would take for it to be better. Most of the work we did aimed at understanding clearly the very difficult texts we read, working out the major differences among their authors, and then doing what we could to arbitrate between them. The earliest of the texts we read was written in the mid-18th century, and the latest was written very early in the 20th century. Listening to the radio pieces was a great way to test - and to demonstrate - how useful our texts could be in figuring out some very complicated stories about manufacturing, banking, finance and regulation in the 21st century. I know from their course evaluations that the overwhelming majority of the students loved the radio pieces. I think the general feeling was that the pieces gave students a fuller sense of the value of learning social theory, and I suspect that it made many of them more eager to become consumers of economic journalism and engaged citizens more generally. I've attached a copy of the reading schedule from the course. I could send along the lesson plans I used, but honestly - having just looked back through them - there's not much there, apart from summaries of the shows and a few general questions about what the authors we read would have said about them. I remember the discussions being lively, but most of their structure came from the students' responses to my questions.
  • 355: The Giant Pool of Money

    355: The Giant Pool of Money

    Subject: Social Studies
    School Level: College
    When popular accounts of social problems are largely dominated by explanations that attribute blame to individuals, how do we convey the role of culture and social structure, political and economic forces, social objects and discourses? I often begin
  • 322: Shouting Across the Divide

    322: Shouting Across the Divide

    Subject: Social Studies
    School Level: High School
    Grade 9, act 2 about Serry and the discrimination her family suffered for being Muslim
  • 282: DIY

    282: DIY

    Subject: Social Studies
    School Level: High School
    Objective: Students will be able to identify and explain which of the Amendments were used and misused in the DIY story. Students will then be able to determine if the case in DIY shows that the Amendments work or not. Procedure: 1. Review the Amendments, particularly the Rights of the Accused (4-8). 2. Listen to DIY. Identify examples where the Amendments were used correctly or misused, 3. Write an essay in which you argue whether the DIY story shows the Amendments work or not.
  • 210: Perfect Evidence

    210: Perfect Evidence

    Subject: Social Studies
    School Level: High School
    N/A
  • 178: Superpowers

    178: Superpowers

    Subject: Social Studies
    School Level: College
    I teach undergraduate courses in Sociology, and have often used the John Hodgman superpowers episode (flight v. invisibility) to teach the idea of the Sociological Imagination.
  • 164: Crime Scene

    164: Crime Scene

    Subject: Social Studies
    School Level: High School
    N/A
  • 147: A Teenager's Guide to God

    147: A Teenager's Guide to God

    Subject: Social Studies
    School Level: College
    I also used #147 A Teenagers Guide to God Act 2: Unto the Uttermost Part of the Earth to discuss Appalachian religion, converting Christians to a "better" Christianity, and notions of insider/outsider relations.
  • 119: Lockup

    119: Lockup

    Subject: Social Studies
    School Level: High School
    N/A
  • 110: Mapping

    110: Mapping

    Subject: Social Studies
    School Level: Middle School
    It so accurately explained why maps are important even to today's 9th graders.
  • 110: Mapping

    110: Mapping

    Subject: Social Studies
    School Level: Middle School
    Just today, in my Human Geography class (a perfect class to truly explore what the American life is!) my students listened to the intro and several segments from the Mapping episode. It so accurately explained why maps are important even to today's 9th graders.
  • 112: Ladies and Germs

    112: Ladies and Germs

    Subject: Social Studies
    School Level: College
    I used TAL in a 200 level college course called Intro to Appalachian Studies (social science.) During a segment on Appalachian folk medicine and American official medicine, I used #112 Ladies and Germs Act 2: 20th Century Germs to discuss how scientific shifts impact culture and ideas of wellness.
  • 109: Notes on Camp

    109: Notes on Camp

    Subject: Social Studies
    School Level: High School
    Great clip to discuss groups particularly ingroup vs outgroup
  • 105: Take A Negro Home

    105: Take A Negro Home

    Subject: Social Studies
    School Level: High School
    Grades 11-12, Act 2 about Cedric Jennings
  • 27: The Cruelty of Children

    27: The Cruelty of Children

    Subject: Social Studies
    School Level: High School
    N/A

Spanish

  • 465: What Happened At Dos Erres

    465: What Happened At Dos Erres

    Subject: Spanish
    School Level: High School
    I teach high school Spanish, levels 1-4, and am currently working on adapting the Dos Erres stories for use in my honors course this spring. Though it is still in the development stage, I thought that you might like to know that this story was what inspired the entire unit that I'm developing on social justice and identity.

Elementary

  • 506: Secret Identity

    506: Secret Identity

    Subject: General
    School Level: Elementary
    This week's story about the mascot will be a great one to have the students study. I may have them summarize and then recreate the story using ComicBook. Perhaps we will send them to the Tiger to share with her!
  • 475: Send a Message

    475: Send a Message

    Subject: General
    School Level: Elementary
    I teach 5th grade and adore the show. I used my first episode in class last week, the Sister Rosemary piece by Sonari Glinton from the "Send a Message" show. I shared it with my class because it was a beautiful personal narrative and beautifully illustrated the "small moment" I emphasize with my students in narrative writing. It also brought about a fascinating discussion of religion and race in my classroom.
  • 475: Send a Message

    475: Send a Message

    Subject: General
    School Level: Elementary
    I run an elementary gifted education program in a suburban school district of Kansas City, Mo. Students attend my class for a full day, one day a week, throughout the school year. In my 4th grade class, we have been studying the influences of many great scientists in preparation for our upcoming Science Fair unit in a project titled "Standing on the Shoulders of Giants." The prologue of the TAL episode on Messages was the perfect conversation starter in my class, as many students were completing projects on Galileo and Kepler. What made this particular program so wonderful to share, however, was the inclusion of Latin mistranslations. You see, we also study Latin (at a very beginner level). My students laughed and laughed at Kepler's botched translations and it was reassuring to hear that such a talented Mathematician was a Latin failure. Many of my kids struggle with asynchronous development and learning that great geniuses weren't absolutely brilliant at solving every challenge they faced is a tremendous lesson for my kiddos. Of course, the twist of insane coincidence that came at the end the story when Kepler ACCIDENTALLY discovered that Jupiter had a big red spot was just the delicious icing on the cake! My favorite teaching moment came that day when one of the 9 year old boys in the back of the room (who rarely pays attention) looked up with astonishing eyes and muttered, "That's Mind-blowing!" Yes, yes it was. I am a huge fan of the show and now I find myself racing to the website every week to peruse through the newest episode, in hopes that I will find another gem story to share with all of my new little TAL fans.
  • 474: Back to School

    474: Back to School

    Subject: General
    School Level: Elementary
    Hi! I teach fifth grade (mostly math) in Macon, Georgia and I use TAL whenever I hear something about education and learning. It started with your show featuring The Marshmallow Test. I believe that we are emphasizing the results of learning instead of the process, and this episode helped me convey to my students that intelligence (something they do not have control over) is not as important to learning as will (something they can control). Now, I begin every year with a marshmallow in a Baggie, which they can eat or wait until the afternoon and get a second one.
  • 474: Back to School

    474: Back to School

    Subject: General
    School Level: Elementary
    I have been deeply influenced by one episode of This American Life in particular. Episode 474, "Back To School", affected me as soon as the prologue began. I shared the program with a number of other teachers and thought that would be the end of it. The episode felt like a compendium of source material to back up what each of us felt; that the most important thing we can do as teachers is strengthen who our students are as people so that they can have the tools available to define and pursue their own happiness. Just before the summer began, our school director asked two other teachers and me to spend the summer designing a program to be used in every homeroom class on a daily basis. He told us he wanted a character curriculum that included Angela Duckworth's studies on grit. My co-workers and I agreed immediately that episode 474 was the place to start. From there we all read Paul Tough's book, How Children Succeed. Further research included visiting a KIPP school, reading Martin Seligman's Learned Optimism and The Optimistic Child, James Heckman's actual GED studies, and of course Angela Duckworth. We had the school buy a copy of How Children Succeed for every teacher and made it required summer reading. We played "Back To School" in our first staff meeting to get our colleagues as excited as we were. The program has rolled out this year. It has its flaws and its weaknesses, but it makes explicit what has always been the undertone of what we do. My kids now know that giving up on a task is GED behavior. My kids know that when they just can't wait to blurt something out, that they are eating the marshmallow. We use our program to redefine how we as teachers approach our kids and how we approach our discipline. We use our program to redefine how our kids approach themselves, their community and their education. Our program is in every classroom at our school from grades 6-12. By next year, we hope to have a separate curriculum for each grade. "Back To School" was the inspiration and source material for what we are doing.
  • 450: So Crazy It Just Might Work

    450: So Crazy It Just Might Work

    Subject: Math
    School Level: Elementary
    I teach third grade at an international school in Accra, Ghana and, during a math lesson one day, I mentioned a snippet of what I remembered from that show. (To be honest, I thought I was remembering a Radiolab episode, but the good folks at Radiolab pointed me in your direction...that's another story). Anyway, the students were so interested, that we listened to the story about Frank Nelson Cole the next day, which sparked amazing discussions not only about mathematics (prime numbers, odd and even, problem solving, time, large numbers, etc.) but also about character and life skills (perseverance, failing "well," creativity). In fact, Frank Nelson Cole has made it onto our "significant person" timeline.
  • 450: So Crazy It Just Might Work

    450: So Crazy It Just Might Work

    Subject: General
    School Level: Elementary
    the intro from your "So Crazy It Just Might Work Show" was the provocation for great discussion in my third grade classroom. I teach third grade at an international school in Accra, Ghana and, during a math lesson one day, I mentioned a snippet of what I remembered from that show. (To be honest, I thought I was remembering a Radiolab episode, but the good folks at Radiolab pointed me in your direction...that's another story). Anyway, the students were so interested, that we listened to the story about Frank Nelson Cole the next day, which sparked amazing discussions not only about mathematics (prime numbers, odd and even, problem solving, time, large numbers, etc.) but also about character and life skills (perseverance, failing "well," creativity). In fact, Frank Nelson Cole has made it onto our "significant person" timeline. We are an IB school, which means we talk a lot about our IB Learner Profile. The kids have decided Frank Nelson Cole is definitely an IB Learner because he was an inquirer, risk-taker, thinker, knowledgeable, and a communicator.
  • 423: The Invention of Money

    423: The Invention of Money

    Subject: General
    School Level: Elementary
    Just this week, I used the prologue from 423: The Invention of Money to introduce a unit on Money with a class of 4th and 5th grade gifted students. We read the transcript while we listened. Other resources I used were videos from www.brainpop.com and the Federal Reserve
  • 370: Ruining It for the Rest of Us

    370: Ruining It for the Rest of Us

    Subject: General
    School Level: Elementary
    I work in a special education school, grades 6 through 12, with students who have severe emotional and behavioral disorders. It is a challenge to teach them as their behaviors often derail the class. In 2009, I started playing the prologue for them at the beginning of the school year. After we've listened to it, I ask for their reactions. We discuss what happens when one person pulls the rest of the group off task. We also talk about how the group can overcome the negative behavior of one person. Without a doubt, this exercise has improved the behavior of the students in my classes. I think that it opens their eyes to the fact that individual behavior can impact the progress of the group. And when a student begins to exhibit an undesirable behavior, I can often curtail it by saying, "Don't be the bad apple!"
  • 340: The Devil in Me

    340: The Devil in Me

    Subject: Religion
    School Level: Elementary
    I've used several episodes when teaching Sunday School. Does that count? I've used "Devil in me" and the one with the moth storyteller talking about her Lawyer dad with the his-her matching porsches who goes to jail for fraud. I know of several clergy that use TAL regularly in sermons (myself included). Also, I've used it to spur discussion with my kids.
  • 61: Fiasco!

    61: Fiasco!

    Subject: General
    School Level: Elementary
    I teach 4-6 grade in a Montessori school in Vermont. Every year we write and produce our own play/musical based upon our studies. For most students, it's their first try at acting and in writing scripts. I have played a clip from your show every year on the day after the play. I have them lie down and relax and then put on the segment describing the production of 'Captain Hook' from the Fiascos show. It is the perfect thing for those kids at that time. They have just been through the emotional physical mental trial of the show and they love hearing the description of that disaster as it slowly plays out. They know exactly how those players feel and can also take the part of the audience as its relationship to the show changes over time.

Middle School

  • 487: Harper High School, Part One

    487: Harper High School, Part One

    Subject: English
    School Level: Middle School
    I thought long and hard about how to connect Harper to what we were doing in class. We were reading The Outsiders. I found a way for the children to connect the characters and problems faced in The Outsiders to workable solutions for the community surrounding Harper. Overtime the connections between this work of fiction and Harper kind of seemed astounding to me. Me I was reaching but I felt like it just worked. It brought the Socs and Greasers to life. I've included a few of the materials I used for this multipart lesson. We worked with the podcast for over a week. One of the culminating activities centered around clothes line being run from different Outsider character posters around the room to a box in the middle that had images from Harper and TAL pasted on it. Children clipped the connections from each character along the line back to Harper. It was one of the best lessons I've ever taught and left quite a few of my students with tears after listening to the plight of Harper. Anyone who wants to argue that 13 year olds lack empathy should have been in my class that day. I hope these materials benefit someone.
  • 479: Little War on the Prairie

    479: Little War on the Prairie

    Subject: Social Studies
    School Level: Middle School
    Last year, I used your episode on the US Dakota Conflict (I live and teach in Minnesota) and actually contacted Gwen Westerman who helped me create some cool curriculum to go along with the unit.
  • 474: Back to School

    474: Back to School

    Subject: General
    School Level: Middle School
    I used the ideas in your Back to School episode plus the YouTube clip of Theo to help my students set goals and give themselves character-building encouragements.
  • 454: Mr. Daisey and the Apple Factory

    454: Mr. Daisey and the Apple Factory

    Subject: Social Studies
    School Level: Middle School
    I used "Mr. Daisy and the Apple Factory" with my 8th grade Global Studies class...and then I used the retraction episode to do a lesson on making mistakes. :(
  • 450: So Crazy It Just Might Work

    450: So Crazy It Just Might Work

    Subject: Science
    School Level: Middle School
    I am a science teacher. I haven't made a lesson plan for it yet, but when I listened to the episode 450 "So crazy it just might work" the Mr. Holland's opus section, I thought that it could be great for students. I like that it shows the point of view of a scientist and a non-scientist, that real science is not as clear cut as the stories we read about in textbooks, that it talked about the importance of variables and controls in experiments, and that the scientist in the story talked about how results are not valid if you are not careful about your controls (which is a really hard concept to understand.)
  • 449: Middle School

    449: Middle School

    Subject: General
    School Level: Middle School
    I've given my students excerpts of "Life in the Middle Ages." They could relate with Annie, the narrator at the beginning and they liked listening to "Louis Time." This was done during our advisory session on Friday's along with our 2nd Step Unit.
  • 449: Middle School

    449: Middle School

    Subject: History
    School Level: Middle School
    I teach 8th grade world history, starting with the Stone Age and ending with the Middle Ages. My first unit was on prehistory and how we learn what happened prior to the invention of writing. We talked about archaeology, fossils, and anthropologists and their study of oral tradition in different communities. To better explain what an oral tradition is, I had my students listen to act five "Blue Kind on the Block" from the Middle School episode. We talked about why it's important to hear Leo's story, how they can relate, and how they think Leo feels now that it's been a few years. Their assignment that night was to ask a parent or friend to tell them a true story about something that had happened in their life or a tradition that they follow that isn't written down. It really reinforced the idea of what an oral tradition in, and how the stories we tell help define who we are.
  • 449: Middle School

    449: Middle School

    Subject: Diversity
    School Level: Middle School
    N/A
  • 448: Adventure!

    448: Adventure!

    Subject: English
    School Level: Middle School
    I have students listen to the Dave Eggers story from episode 448: Adventure! I tie it to our anthology unit on mood, tone, and style. Students analyze the text and audio to determine how the author created a tense/suspenseful mood. I give them the text and some accompanying questions to guide their analysis (worksheet attached)
  • 448: Adventure!

    448: Adventure!

    Subject: English
    School Level: Middle School
    I'm student teaching this year and we're doing a unit on short stories, timed so the students write stories by Halloween - we used the Adventure! episode (448) and specifically Dave Eggers creepy story to introduce short stories (and the elements thereof and how Eggers subverts some more traditional story-writing aspects, etc.) to the students.
  • 403: NUMMI

    403: NUMMI

    Subject: General
    School Level: Middle School
    there was a story about the concept of Kaizen -- always improving. It was in connection with an Asian car company and their philosophy of improvement. Since that story, I have several images of the Kaizen characters in my classroom and use Kaizen as a way to communicate improvement and quality work. I teach the concept behind it. I'm a middle school teacher and this works!
  • 24: Teenaged Girls

    24: Teenaged Girls

    Subject: Diversity
    School Level: Middle School
    N/A
  • 322: Shouting Across the Divide

    322: Shouting Across the Divide

    Subject: English
    School Level: Middle School
    We use this story as part of a unit on Pearl Harbor, September 11th and the Patriot Act and also as a year long unit on being an outsider. We focus on Chloe's story. The students LOVE this story because they get SO OUTRAGED at the teacher and what she does. We use this story for several reasons, one being that since the students were either very young or not alive when 9/11 happened, this helps explain some of the backlash against Muslims afterwards in a very reachable, understandable way.
  • 286: Mind Games

    286: Mind Games

    Subject: English
    School Level: Middle School
    I used the segment
  • 283: Remember Me

    283: Remember Me

    Subject: English
    School Level: Middle School
    For the past 4 years I've used "Thinking Inside The Box" by David Wilcox. I teach memoir writing and this a nice short one for kids to listen to, reflect upon. When I first heard it I was driving across New Mexico to visit my mother for the last time. She was battling breast cancer and this came on the radio. I had to pull over and collect myself after it was done. Using this in class helps them learn to reflect, and reminds me to do it.
  • 186: Prom

    186: Prom

    Subject: English
    School Level: Middle School
    I use this with my journalism class to teach the question "What is news?" I love it because they can relate to it and they get really into it. We have a general comprehension discussion then I ask them wether or not it is considered news, and why or why not. It leads to a great discussion because it's news to them, but it's so unconventional (to them) in it's delivery.
  • 115: First Day

    115: First Day

    Subject: English
    School Level: Middle School
    I let students listen to "Squirrel Cop" from episode 115: First Day. I tie it to our study of point of view and character motivation. The comprehension questions tends to ensure students are paying attention to the audio, but the read work lies in the homework assignment. They need to rewrite the story (or at least a section of it) from another character's point of view. Many students tend to write as if they're the squirrel, which makes for some very interesting pieces. It makes a great sub plan too and at the end of the year many students report it was their favorite activity we did all year.
  • 110: Mapping

    110: Mapping

    Subject: Social Studies
    School Level: Middle School
    It so accurately explained why maps are important even to today's 9th graders.
  • 110: Mapping

    110: Mapping

    Subject: Social Studies
    School Level: Middle School
    Just today, in my Human Geography class (a perfect class to truly explore what the American life is!) my students listened to the intro and several segments from the Mapping episode. It so accurately explained why maps are important even to today's 9th graders.
  • 27: The Cruelty of Children

    27: The Cruelty of Children

    Subject: English
    School Level: Middle School
    I wanted to share that I used the episode "Cruelty of Children" with my 7th grade gifted language arts class. I paired this with the Twilight Zone teleplay "Monsters Are Due On Maple" and the Ray Bradbury short story "All Summer in a Day".
  • 27: The Cruelty of Children

    27: The Cruelty of Children

    Subject: Diversity
    School Level: Middle School
    N/A

High School

  • 505: Use Only as Directed

    505: Use Only as Directed

    Subject: Health
    School Level: High School
    I am a homeschooling mom and have used many episodes over the years. Just used the Tylenol episode for part of my 17yo's health education.
  • 504: How I Got Into College

    504: How I Got Into College

    Subject: English
    School Level: High School
    I have recently begun to teach a course on American media, and in this class I present the students with examples of American media ranging from clips of popular American sitcoms to short segments from radio programs. Several weeks ago I shared with my students the episode of "going back to school", to highlight the similarities and differences of the US and South Korean university admission process. I began the class by asking the students to think about their own admission process at Sangmyung University (the name of the university where I teach). The students came up with their own lists and then I had them share their individual experiences in a group discussion to get an idea of how difficult or easy students' felt their experience to be. Students in general agreed that in South Korea the principle requirement to enter a good university (in South Korea there are 3 Ivy League caliber universities) was to receive a high mark on their CSAT (Korean university entrance exam). However, high marks in their high school courses would also aid them in the admission process, but not nearly as much as their test score. After creating their lists and concluding our short discussion, I then shared with them my own experience of applying to various universities and it quickly became apparent to the students that our processes were very different. For starters the number of universities I applied to was far greater than the number of universities most South Korean students apply to. There are a large number of universities in South Korea, but the majority of high school students are competing for the top three (imagine the level of competition!). I also explained to the students that it was very important that I had variety of extra-curricular activities on my educational resume, activities such as: sports, music, academic clubs, etc.. In South Korea most students don't have the time to participate in these types of extra-curricular activities so the fact that this was a deciding factor for some admission boards in the US came as quite a surprise. After comparing their experiences with my experiences, I played for them the into to the episode, and they listened to the interviews with the incoming freshmen at Columbia University and their explanations for why they believed they got accepted. What really stood out to the South Korean university students, was the fact that the more unique an American high school student is, the better chance they have to get into a good university. In South Korea if you stand out from the pack, that does not translate into being unique or more importantly a better student. The idea that an individual from a minority or from a special cohort would give an individual student an advantage was the most shocking revelation from the episode. Because the class is limited in time (1 hour) we had to cut the discussion short, however to keep the conversation going I gave all of the students a writing assignment. I asked all of the students to go home and write a paragraph about which country they would like to pursue their higher education, they would have to provide at least 3 pieces of evidence to support their decision as well as providing reasons for why they didn't select the alternative option. At the end of the class I had several students come up to me and ask me for the link to the entire podcast. A week later they came back and told me they were so grateful to have a class that opened their eyes to these types of cultural lessons. I was pleased to hear this feedback and I owe the success of that lesson entirely to the great journalistic work being done at This American Life. I will conclude this email with a breakdown of the lesson and the materials required to complete this lesson. Thank you again for all of your great work and I hope to use more episodes of TAL in class in the future. A Breakdown of the lesson: Opening (10 minutes): How easy/hard is it to enter a university in South Korea? Make a list of all the tasks you had to complete to enter Sangmyung University. Discussion (15 minutes): Share personal experiences related to the application process and how you felt before, during, and after the process. Teacher Experience (10 minutes): I will share with you my experience of trying to get into college and then we will discuss some of the similarities and differences. Listening (20 minutes): Listen to the podcast and then have a discussion about the students responses and try to highlight the reasons why they felt they were accepted by Columbia University and were their reasons similar to some of the students at Sangmyung University. Closing (5 minutes): I short wrap up of the days conversation with a summary of what we had learned in class with last comments from the students. Materials: Each student was given a transcript of the episode. I provided the students with a glossary of the difficult terms or phrases from the episode and we would discuss each term or phrase as we came to them.
  • 504: How I Got Into College

    504: How I Got Into College

    Subject: English
    School Level: High School
    good for students to hear what NOT to write in their essays.
  • 504: How I Got Into College

    504: How I Got Into College

    Subject: Social Studies
    School Level: High School
    We teach a class for 9th and 10th graders called American Historiography. On its surface, it's the study of how history has been told through different lenses and the impact those various histories have on how Americans see ourselves and others. We're also going to ask students to tell their own stories as well, both about historic events and their own lives. We want to give them the experience of making choices about tone, perspective, and exclusion that all storytellers have to face. Throughout the course we're planning to use "How I Got Into College" (Acts 2 and 3) to discuss how the stories we tell shape our perspective on our lives and why we cling to them so steadfastly. (Lucky for us, Michael Lewis practically teaches the class for us by the end of that episode.)
  • 504: How I Got Into College

    504: How I Got Into College

    Subject: Psychology
    School Level: High School
    I recently used the latest episode, "How I Got Into College." I had students first recall a memory they had as a child. I then had them ask their parents what their recollection of that same memory was. We then compared notes and some of the discrepancies were humorous. I then played the episode in which we stopped the episode periodically and l made sure the students were keeping track of the story. Once the 'reveal' at the end of the episode came in, we compared notes and hypothesized why we construct memories the way we do.
  • 504: How I Got Into College

    504: How I Got Into College

    Subject: English
    School Level: High School
    I have also used the My Ames is True episode with my grade 10 students as part of a Common Core Common Assessment that answered the following question: After reviewing the 4 sources (This American Life was 1 of the 4), describe the transformative power that memory evokes within people.
  • 496: When Patents Attack... Part Two!

    496: When Patents Attack... Part Two!

    Subject: English
    School Level: High School
    I've also used "When Patents Attack: part 2" to achieve two goals: 1. Thank you for providing a real life example of how misusing an apostrophe can cause real life problems. (That's the first reason I've used the show.) 2. How does the order of ideas create meaning? The students listen to the show, then look at the transcript which I have cut into different sections. (The show has neat little small episodes, so this works nicely). The students must rearrange the order of ideas to create a new meaning. By starting and ending with different parts of the show, perhaps eliminating two segments, the students can shift the emphasis, leading the reader/listener to different conclusions than those created in the original show. (The goal of this exercise is for students to explore possible ways of creating meaning, not arguing for/against different versions of truth.) Sometimes they make the show sympathetic to people who simply want to make money, sometimes they make the show supportive of IV. They have fantastic discussions and develop their analytical skills, considering how structure of ideas is a powerful force in creating meaning.
  • 493: Picture Show

    493: Picture Show

    Subject: Art
    School Level: High School
    We listened to your prologue and act two (all while working on one point perspective drawings). After, I had them respond to three questions (in bold below). There answers were interesting to me and I thought I would pass them along to you as well. Share an example of a time where you misunderstood a picture or "imposed a story" on a photograph. Would you send your art work to Anthony... why or why not? Why do artists make art? Why do you make art?
  • 493: Picture Show

    493: Picture Show

    Subject: Art
    School Level: High School
    I recently listened to your episode "Picture Show" and thought it would be an awesome thing to listen to with my high school art students. We listened to your prologue and act two (all while working on one point perspective drawings). After, I had them respond to three questions: Share an example of a time where you misunderstood a picture or "imposed a story" on a photograph. Would you send your art work to Anthony... why or why not? Why do artists make art? Why do you make art?
  • 487: Harper High School, Part One

    487: Harper High School, Part One

    Subject: English
    School Level: High School
    Any teacher of Language Arts can tell you that it is extremely difficult to locate texts that have both literary merit and are met with enthusiasm on the part of the students. I have tried to err on the side of pleasing my own tastes, and I have also tried to indulge my students by delving into theirs-- generally someone winds up unhappy and confused. Then one day I was looking through the This American Life radio archive trying to pass an hour listening to some old episode I may have missed, and I found myself thinking: this show is amazing. Almost every episode is well crafted. It is, like, a study in writer's craft and speech. And their stories are so darn interesting too! And bingo! Just like that, I realized that I had literally hundreds of great stories which could be put to use in my classroom. And because my students are all lucky enough to be equipped with Chrome books, they all have access to the technology. After careful searching and consideration, I decided to use the two-part Harper High School episode as the central text in the first unit of my sophomore Language Arts class. Unit one is a study of non-fiction, and in it we ask the following essential question: Consider the writer's choices. How do these choices impact the reader's understanding of the text? This question is at once fairly basic and deceptively complex, and I found that the Harper episode was uniquely well qualified to help us answer it. Because Harper is really an audio text (though we followed along with the transcript very closely) it really opened up the whole notion of "writer's choices" to much more than the printed words. Here is just a very small sample of some "choices" that my students raised and grappled with: What is the purpose of transitioning to a different "act" at this particular location? What would have been the effect if the transition had been inserted a little earlier? Why does Ira Glass interrupt the speaker here? Why is he summarizing her words for her? What were the other editorial options open to him? Why is this story set primarily in the counselor's office? How would this story be different had it been set primarily in the cafeteria, or in a more academic setting? What is the impact of "background noise" on a scene? How does it impact our judgement? How do the writers create sympathy for some of the people interviewed? After grappling with these questions and writing about them as a class, I gave my students a few days to peruse the This American Life archive and find their own podcast to explore. Having done so, they are now attempting to answer the same essential question with reference to their own story in the form of a written extended response. Writing is hard work, without exception, but I truly cannot recall a time when my students and I shared such a total, genuine, and heartfelt appreciation for the same text. It helps enormously.They are all hooked. It is amazing.
  • 487: Harper High School, Part One

    487: Harper High School, Part One

    Subject: English
    School Level: High School
    I have used the Harper High School piece to couple Alex Kotlowitz's There Are No Children Here with my Senior AP students.
  • 487: Harper High School, Part One

    487: Harper High School, Part One

    Subject: Social Studies
    School Level: High School
    Example of the Social Construction of Reality and also socialization
  • 486: Valentine's Day

    486: Valentine's Day

    Subject: English
    School Level: High School
    Last year, I worked at a boarding school in New Hampshire and used Mike Birbiglia's story "My girlfriend's boyfriend" for a special week-long class called "Telling Your Story." We used it specifically to talk about pace and tone. I used it for obvious reasons like, it's a good story, and it's funny enough to hold the kids' attention. But I also used it because I like the way that Mike tells stories. He clearly uses his own voice, and it sounds like he's speaking off the cuff, but it's also polished. I wanted my students to think about the ways in which they could use their own stories and their own voices but still be prepared and put the effort into a well designed story.
  • 486: Valentine's Day

    486: Valentine's Day

    Subject: Math
    School Level: High School
    My students aren't necessarily interested in probability or in aliens, but they are interested in finding dates. The MIT students help bring the equation home.
  • 484: Doppelgängers

    484: Doppelgängers

    School Level: High School
    Lately gun control and regulation has been a hot topic and most of my students are against any regulation (many are hunters and own guns). This show really effected them. They thought it was sad and moving and it helped them have a glimpse into what it is like to live in a big city like Philly.
  • 484: Doppelgängers

    484: Doppelgängers

    Subject: Psychology
    School Level: High School
    To show what PTSD is, I made a power point presentation to go along with the story of the soldier back from the mid east struggling with hyper vigilance when driving by palm trees in Florida.
  • 484: Doppelgängers

    484: Doppelgängers

    Subject: General
    School Level: High School
    I wanted to tell you that I shared the piece about gun violence and PTSD with my 10th graders at Philomath High School today as part of our "Media Mondays." They usually bring in current event articles and we discuss them. Lately gun control and regulation has been a hot topic and most of my students are against any regulation (many are hunters and own guns). This show really effected them. They thought it was sad and moving and it helped them have a glimpse into what it is like to live in a big city like Philly.
  • 483: Self-Improvement Kick

    483: Self-Improvement Kick

    Subject: English
    School Level: High School
    I wanted to share my thanks for your recent program on the charter cities in Honduras. I used the radio story as a springboard for a very engaging and thoughtful conversation with my 10th grade World Literature classes; we are currently studying Imperialism, and this story provided an interesting way to consider similar themes in today's global society.
  • 483: Self-Improvement Kick

    483: Self-Improvement Kick

    Subject: English, Literature
    School Level: High School
    I wanted to share my thanks for your recent program on the charter cities in Honduras. I used the radio story as a springboard for a very engaging and thoughtful conversation with my 10th grade World Literature classes; we are currently studying Imperialism, and this story provided an interesting way to consider similar themes in today's global society.
  • 479: Little War on the Prairie

    479: Little War on the Prairie

    Subject: English
    School Level: High School
    The "Little War on the Prairie" episode was great for introducing a lesson on memorials and perspective around Thanksgiving. I created active listening questions, which students completed while listening to the episode. Then, we had a discussion afterward. In the days at followed, we did a webquest on several controversial Newark celebrities (Amiri Baraka, Assata Shakur, Nat Turner [a local park is named after him], and Sharpe James), with the ultimate goal of supporting an argumentative essay about whom the new local middle school would be named after. Students were instructed to examine all sides of the story, like the This American Life piece had done. WebQuest is attached. Feel free to use with or without my name.
  • 475: Send a Message

    475: Send a Message

    Subject: Social Studies
    School Level: High School
    Understanding Symbolic Interactionism: http://sociologysal.blogspot.com/2012/10/sending-message-about-symbolic.html
  • 468: Switcheroo

    468: Switcheroo

    Subject: Art
    School Level: High School
    We study Cindy Sherman and her photography, using the theme of identity in art making as a huge focus in our own art making. I love using the phone call that you had with her regarding the stunt of someone "being" her at the MOMA. It's a great resource and my students now listen to NPR and TAL on their own time.
  • 465: What Happened At Dos Erres

    465: What Happened At Dos Erres

    Subject: English
    School Level: High School
    When reading Night (about the Holocaust), I ask my students if it could happen today and if there is still prejudice. Then I play Dos Erres or the episode where the Muslim girl is told that a candy cane is shaped in a "J" for Jesus and the red is symbolic for the blood of Jesus.
  • 465: What Happened At Dos Erres

    465: What Happened At Dos Erres

    Subject: Spanish
    School Level: High School
    I teach high school Spanish, levels 1-4, and am currently working on adapting the Dos Erres stories for use in my honors course this spring. Though it is still in the development stage, I thought that you might like to know that this story was what inspired the entire unit that I'm developing on social justice and identity.
  • 465: What Happened At Dos Erres

    465: What Happened At Dos Erres

    Subject: English
    School Level: High School
    We read The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver in which two characters are illegal immigrants fleeing the Guatemalan government after their daughter has been kidnapped and held for ransom. The students struggle with understanding what happened and why it was so dangerous, so we listen to Dos Erres and then they write an essay about the characters in the book. It
  • 464: Invisible Made Visible

    464: Invisible Made Visible

    Subject: English
    School Level: High School
    I show Mike Birbiglia's "D-U-Why?" from the live show DVD as a way to teach narrative arc and how to plant a motif (the repetition) for a powerful payoff at the end ("she only had to say it once").
  • 461: Take the Money and Run for Office

    461: Take the Money and Run for Office

    Subject: Social Studies
    School Level: High School
    Tonight my students had to listen to (or read the transcript for) the prologue & Act 1 while answering some questions I prepared for them. We had already talked about interest groups, PACs and Super PACs - more of a general overview. Tomorrow, they'll use their newly acquired knowledge in a lecture/discussion on campaign financing -- then I included the 15 minute segment on Super PACs and they will listen to McCain and Feingold lament the Citizens United decision. This is the first year that I've assigned something like this for homework because it's the first year that all of my students have internet access at home (self reported). I plan to use some of NPRs radio stories about bail/ bail bondsmen in TX and juvenile detention facilities with my Law class next semester. Keep doing the great work that you do! If you're putting together resources for teachers I'd be happy to share the assignment for others to use. Here's a link to it: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1FTWaY98ta5drLWBrFTL9z5RRgWm77T3-SZT5U5q_zr0/edit?usp=sharing
  • 461: Take the Money and Run for Office

    461: Take the Money and Run for Office

    Subject: Social Studies
    School Level: High School
    I plan to use Take the Money and Run for Office this Friday in my US Government & Economics class. I am teaching a unit on the American political system and plan to use this lesson to help my students understand the role of money in politics. I will likely give students the transcript of the story and play them the audio recording so that they can both see it and hear it. Most likely I will stop the episode between its natural breaks and ask some clarifying questions to ensure that students are absorbing the content.
  • 460: Retraction

    460: Retraction

    Subject: English
    School Level: High School
    Hello! I'm in my 29th year of teaching secondary English. For the past 14 years, I've been in the Netherlands, teaching grades 10-12 at the International School of Amsterdam. Like most international schools, the student population is globally mobile. English is the language of instruction, so all of the kids speak/use English at the same level of kids in the US. (I've taught there, too.) Many international schools use the International Baccalaureate (IB) programs because using a common framework/curriculum provides better transition for the students when they move between IB schools. In grades 11 and 12, the students take the International Baccalaureate Diploma Program. It's a rigorous program. Now, to your question: Here's how I use your show: The IB has a new English course, called Language and Literature. Text type analysis is the basic focus of the course. Your program "Retraction" makes it crystal clear why using the correct text type is critical to accurate, effective, honest communication. Suddenly the students understand this concept, all within the framework of great reporting, story telling, and seeking of truth.
  • 459: What Kind of Country

    459: What Kind of Country

    Subject: English
    School Level: High School
    we listened to episode 459: What Kind of Country. The bell rang only a couple of minutes after the episode ended, so we didn't talk about it very much, but before we left we were prompted to think about what makes people change their opinions, when it happens, and if simply learning new information on a topic causes them to immediately change their opinions.
  • 459: What Kind of Country

    459: What Kind of Country

    Subject: Ethics
    School Level: High School
    I teach New Testament to 10th graders and Ethics to 11th graders at Holy Innocents' Episcopal School in Atlanta. I used the episode "What Kind of Country" in my Ethics class. I designed a guided listening sheet that went along with the first portion of the episode in New Jersey (so the kids could follow along) and then listed major discussion questions for the students to discuss with each other in pairs and then with the class as a whole. We listened to the first portion in New Jersey and the last portion of the episode in Colorado Springs. In addition to the questions listed at the bottom of the attachment, some other essential questions we've discussed were: -Do you think the Colorado Springs plan works? (having residents pay on their own for public services like park upkeep, trash removal, etc.) Why or why not? --Would YOU vote for a tax increase if it meant it would benefit all? Or do you think everyone should be
  • 457: What I Did For Love

    457: What I Did For Love

    Subject: Social Studies
    School Level: High School
    Deviance, The Labeling Theory, and understanding William Chambliss's The Saints and Roughnecks http://sociologysal.blogspot.com/2008/04/deviance.html
  • 455: Continental Breakup

    455: Continental Breakup

    Subject: History
    School Level: High School
    I plan to use Continental Breakup in my AP European history class toward the end of the course. Amazingly accessible explanation of the financial crisis in the EU and how it happened. I was going to have them listen to the podcast and then plan a scored discussion based on 5-6 prompts I will prepare and distribute ahead of time.
  • 454: Mr. Daisey and the Apple Factory

    454: Mr. Daisey and the Apple Factory

    Subject: Social Studies
    School Level: High School
    I also used Mr. Daisey and the Apple Factory and the Retraction ... we listed to the original when it first came out, again in Globalization, but then listened to the retraction. It caused an incredibly interesting conversation about truth, sourcing, etc.
  • 454: Mr. Daisey and the Apple Factory

    454: Mr. Daisey and the Apple Factory

    Subject: English
    School Level: High School
    part of a larger unit on journalistic ethics.
  • 454: Mr. Daisey and the Apple Factory

    454: Mr. Daisey and the Apple Factory

    Subject: Social Studies
    School Level: High School
    We're also planning to use both "Mr. Daisey and the Apple Factory" and "Retraction" to discuss the difference between fact and truth and to have kids think about storytelling responsibility in both the arts and journalism.
  • 454: Mr. Daisey and the Apple Factory

    454: Mr. Daisey and the Apple Factory

    Subject: English
    School Level: High School
    I'm a high school English teacher and this year I'll be using both Fox con stories, I was able to buy the 1st one on Amazon before you took it down. Ira skewering Daisey is a good lesson concerning academic honesty and how devastating it can be when you have little regard for your own integrity as a writer/story teller (or just get carried away), and (sorry about this) the importance of using credible sources when writing is also a lesson that comes across nicely.
  • 454: Mr. Daisey and the Apple Factory

    454: Mr. Daisey and the Apple Factory

    Subject: English
    School Level: High School
    I teach a course called "Writing for the Media" to 11th and 12th graders. Last Spring was the first time I used This American Life in this class and it was very successful. I introduce the podcast telling the students we will be discussing "Investigative Journalism." I play the "Mike Daisey and the Apple Factory" episode 1. The kids are fascinated by the story. They love their iPhones so there is nothing more relevant to them. I show pictures of FoxConn and the suicide nets while it is playing. They often come back to class the next day after having conducted their own research on the topic. They are excited to discuss the story with me after class because they feel completely outraged at Apple. On Day 2, I play "Mr. Daisey and the Apple Factory: RETRACTION." The kids are SHOCKED! They feel completely duped and angry. They are often mad at ME for not telling them that many of the facts in Mr. Daisey's story were false. I then reveal that our true unit of study was "Journalism Ethics." We discuss the episode at length. They question if Mike Daisey was to blame or if the fact checkers were to blame. It leads to a really great discussion about the code of ethics when it comes to writing and the responsibility of fact checkers. I also show the movie "Shattered Glass" about Stephen Glass as well as have the students read Janet Cooke's false article about the 8 year old heroin addict: Jimmy's World. They analyze all three. Here is the document I use for this analysis of Journalism Ethics: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1RbaO0jJzt3oyyRCTKOtwinfEknM65nn7ozs0LIifRv4/edit?usp=sharing This unit is really successful and interesting to the students and I personally love an opportunity to share my favorite radio broadcast with my kids!
  • 454: Mr. Daisey and the Apple Factory

    454: Mr. Daisey and the Apple Factory

    Subject: Social Studies
    School Level: High School
    Grade 12
  • 450: So Crazy It Just Might Work

    450: So Crazy It Just Might Work

    Subject: Science
    School Level: High School
    N/A
  • 450: So Crazy It Just Might Work

    450: So Crazy It Just Might Work

    Subject: Math
    School Level: High School
    I use this story [the Prologue] to demonstrate the nature of math exploration. It can take many attempts to get a problem right, failure is OK as long as you learn from it and it is through effort that you become a better mathematician.
  • 449: Middle School

    449: Middle School

    Subject: Social Studies
    School Level: High School
    Why is it such a difficult stage? What is unique about middle school? What is needed to address their developmental needs? Skip act 3 and go to act 4-32 minutes
  • 443: Amusement Park

    443: Amusement Park

    Subject: English
    School Level: High School
    I just finished up a two year stint teaching high school English in Mexico. I used This American Life in my Journalism class as an extra credit assignment. I posted links to some of the easier episodes to understand (i.e. Amusement Park, as opposed to ones on US politics), and students would listen. Then, they had to summarize the main points of the show.
  • 436: The Psychopath Test

    436: The Psychopath Test

    Subject: Social Studies
    School Level: High School
    N/A
  • 431: See No Evil

    431: See No Evil

    Subject: English
    School Level: High School
    Still, my favorite use would have to be for their research paper at the end of the course, which covers the thread of good vs. evil throughout all of the works we study. In short, the research paper asks them to choose which type of evil is the worst/most dangerous (personal, social, or religious) then substantiate their claim by referencing works that we have read throughout the year. In addition, they must link the evil from the literature to the same type of evil in modern society. For this portion, I give them a list of This Life episodes that could be applicable. So if a teacher wanted to do a similar project/paper about good vs. evil in both literature and real life, I highly suggest having the students listen to certain Acts from these episodes. For example, some great talking points for social evil come from Episode 431 (See No Evil), Act II, which gets into possible government corruption and cover-ups regarding the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan. Episode 493 (Picture Show), Act I discusses how Israeli soldiers use random house visits to keep track of Palestinians in the West Bank. Additionally, I also use the following episodes: 392: Someone Else's Money (re: health insurance) 2: Small Scale Sin (Act III--computer hacking) 168: The Fix is In (corporate corruption) 197: Before It Had a Name (Act I--the Holocaust) 5: Anger & Forgiveness (Acts I, III, & V) 317: Unconditional Love (Prologue) 213: Devil on my Shoulder (Acts I & II--religious evil)
  • 428: Oh You Shouldn't Have

    428: Oh You Shouldn't Have

    Subject: English
    School Level: High School
    I used Etgar Keret's "What Of This Goldfish Would You Wish?" as an intro to Crime and Punishment
  • 424: Kid Politics

    424: Kid Politics

    Subject: History
    School Level: High School
    Used whole episode
  • 423: The Invention of Money

    423: The Invention of Money

    Subject: Social Studies
    School Level: High School
    I used The Lie that Saved Brazil in my 12th grade Globalization course. We were looking at the issue of money, globally and the students were fascinated by the story that was told.
  • 414: Right to Remain Silent

    414: Right to Remain Silent

    Subject: General
    School Level: High School
    I teach students with significantly challenging behavior (often paired with diagnoses such as ADHD, Oppositional Defiant Disorder, Conduct Disorder, etc.). These are kids who just can't seem to keep themselves out of trouble. When I heard part one of "Right to Remain Silent", about Joe Lipari, I knew I had to use it in my classroom. We had a terrific discussion about impulsivity, saying/doing things we later regret, and responsible use of social media. They genuinely enjoyed listening to the story, and it made for a great discussion. I couldn't have asked for a more timely or apropos story to use.
  • 408: Island Time

    408: Island Time

    School Level: High School
    I've suggested the podcast on Haiti disaster relief to the leader of group of students on a study trip to Geneva to visit the UN/Red Cross, and to discuss disaster relief, etc.
  • 175: Babysitting

    175: Babysitting

    Subject: Communications
    School Level: High School
    Act 3 - see attached worksheet
  • 388: Rest Stop

    388: Rest Stop

    Subject: ESL
    School Level: High School
    My name is Alia; I was in the Peace Corps from 2009 to 2011 in Ukraine, where my primary role was a middle school & high school English teacher. After school, I had an English club several times a week for various ages. In one of my advanced-level English club (which included adults and high school students), I played a portion of Act 1 of episode 388 (
  • 381: Turncoat

    381: Turncoat

    Subject: English
    School Level: High School
    When reading 1984, I have my students listen to the "Turncoat" episode and ask them if what happens to O'Brien and Winston is analogous to what happens in the show.
  • 379: Return To The Scene Of The Crime

    379: Return To The Scene Of The Crime

    Subject: Art, English
    School Level: High School
    Almost three years ago it occurred to me that I could use some of the cool stories from TAL in my lesson plans as I teach my sophomore students about informational texts. Some of the stories you have developed provided excellent examples of the same standards and objectives I should be teaching in the state of Ohio. I started browsing for some of my favorite stories and then choosing which ones I thought the students would like best. I selected some funny ones to engage the students at first and then shifted to more serious stories. For example, I have selected stories like Return to the Scene of the Crime, Middle School, Nobody's Family Is Going to Change, and Right to Remain Silent (which was ironically on last week). I have given students the option to listen to the stories on their own at times or we have listened to them in class and read along with the transcript. I ask questions that have to do with the students' ability to comprehend, analyze, evaluate, and synthesize (Bloom's Taxonomy). I have also engaged students in a twitter chat with one of the podcasts for homework one night since there was not time in class to discuss the story. I have found that TAL is much more engaging for students to learn about informational texts than reading these types of stories from a book.
  • 379: Return To The Scene Of The Crime

    379: Return To The Scene Of The Crime

    Subject: English
    School Level: High School
    A favorite lesson of mine is to use Mike Birbiglia's tale in the episode "Return to the Scene of the Crime," wherein he tells of getting T-boned in an auto accident, becomes obsessive about righting wrongs, and somehow integrates how he came to propose to his girlfriend. The story fits well after we study Greek tragedy, story theory, and Aristotle's Poetics. The point I make is that it is not just playwrights and novelists who tell stories of characters who move from ignorance to knowledge--it happens in life as well. To all of us. Birbiglia's story is brief, hilarious, touching, and true. Just like Antigone (except for the hilarious part). Thanks to This American Life for helping fuel my instruction. (I also love sharing the Hamlet-in-prison episode and the parodies of William Carlos Williams' "This Is Just to Say.")
  • 374: Somewhere Out There

    374: Somewhere Out There

    Subject: Math
    School Level: High School
    I've used many episodes in my IB Theory of Knowledge class. The central question for the course is "how do we know what we know?" This course is similar to a philosophy course, but instead of the classical approach, we look at ways of knowing (emotion, reason, language, & sensory perception) and apply them to the areas of knowledge (math, natural and social sciences, history, arts, & ethics). So for math & emotion, I used the prologue to Somewhere Out There and another prologue where a mathematician disproves a long-held theory about prime #s.
  • 374: Somewhere Out There

    374: Somewhere Out There

    Subject: English
    School Level: High School
    I find the program on transgender kids extraordinary, since it raises many delicate questions and issues for interesting discussions aiming at improving our students' awareness of the gender situation, as well the their proficiency of the English language, of course.
  • 370: Ruining It for the Rest of Us

    370: Ruining It for the Rest of Us

    Subject: Social Studies
    School Level: High School
    Use just the prologue for discussion on group dynamics
  • 370: Ruining It for the Rest of Us

    370: Ruining It for the Rest of Us

    Subject: History
    School Level: High School
    I've also used the opening segment of "Ruining it for the Rest of Us" during the first class of the year with my seniors (history seminar) to get them thinking about what makes a good seminar. We then discuss how they can help to make for better discussions (and how they can avoid behaviors that ruin discussions -- how to avoid being that bad apple).
  • 364: Going Big

    364: Going Big

    Subject: English
    School Level: High School
    I love to use Act III of Episode 364 (Going Big) to do a compare/contrast with Macbeth--the students enjoy listening to Daisy and Robin's story and can also recognize parallels between the women and Shakespeare's tragic hero.
  • 364: Going Big

    364: Going Big

    Subject: English
    School Level: High School
    Near the beginning of Sophomore year in English 10 Honors, Mr. Nagro had us listen to Act 1 of episode 364: Going Big. I think at that point he just really wanted to introduce us to how important reading is. We talked about why reading is important and discussed the themes in class then did some writing exercises to practice writing in active voice, if I remember correctly. Finally in my senior year I took AP English from Mr. Nagro. For this class we would prepare to take the two AP English tests (Language & Composition and Literature), so we studied both fiction and non-fiction. We again listened to Act 1 of episode 364: Going Big, but this time focused on what defines "The American Dream" and if this "dream" even exists. We read the first hundred pages or so of Malcolm Gladwell's Outliers to aid in our discussion about what makes a "successful" person so successful. Branching off of the American Dream and success, we talked a little bit about the cycle of poverty and how reading plays into breaking away from poverty.
  • 364: Going Big

    364: Going Big

    Subject: Social Studies
    School Level: High School
    I've used lots of bits and pieces, but one that worked well was part one of "Going Big" with Paul Tough and Geoffrey Canada. I used it in (high school) sociology in a poverty unit. While the students and I are listening in the classroom, we're simultaneously having a online discussion using todaysmeet.com about the issues in the story. I ask questions and clarify any confusion for them, while they respond to the issues, ask questions of each other, etc. It's great!
  • 363: Enforcers

    363: Enforcers

    Subject: English
    School Level: High School
    I've played the segment "Hanging in Chad" as a way to set up the idea of moral ambiguity (as part of a unit on Antigone, where the good vs. evil dichotomy breaks down, as both Antigone and Creon are good AND bad).
  • 362: Got You Pegged

    362: Got You Pegged

    Subject: Social Studies
    School Level: High School
    Stereotypes. You can see the blog I use for class which links to the story and puts it into the context of the class: http://sociologysal.blogspot.com/2012/09/a-stereotype-or-just-category.html
  • 359: Life After Death

    359: Life After Death

    Subject: English
    School Level: High School
    I am currently teaching a unit on Macbeth to my English 12 class at Wellspring Preparatory High School in Grand Rapids, Michigan. For each unit that I teach, I choose an overarching thematic concept that prepares students for the primary theme that they are about to encounter in a difficult text. For Macbeth, my framing device is the topic of guilt. I developed the attached scenarios as a pre-listening activity for the "Guilty as Not Charged" story from Episode 359 (Life After Death). Students are asked to complete the scenarios individually before breaking up into groups. Once they are in small groups of four, they must debate the "correct" ranking order. We then have a large group discussion in which I rank all of their responses using the attached template (projected onto the whiteboard), and then we open up the floor for class wide debate. It can get pretty heated. Afterwards, we listen to "Guilty as Not Charged" and the students respond to the following writing prompt: As we listen to This American Life, please respond to the following questions in your journal. What are the circumstances of the story? Do you understand the narrator's guilt? Do you empathize with Darin? Do you think his feelings of guilt are justified? Why or why not? Given the same set of circumstances, how might you respond? The next day, we read and listen to the story "Guilt" by Judy Budnitz as read by Matt Malloy in the "Tin Man" segment of Episode 446 (Living Without). I then use the following discussion questions to lead a class wide conversation. Often I will have them respond to the questions in writing first. Why do you suppose the author decided to name her short story "Guilt"? What might the author be trying to say about the topic of guilt through this story? How do you know? Were the aunts justified in "guilting" the narrator into his actions? Was the narrator justified in feeling the "guilt" or responsibility for his mother? Do you understand why the narrator made the decision that he did? What would you have done given the same set of circumstances?
  • 355: The Giant Pool of Money

    355: The Giant Pool of Money

    Subject: Social Studies
    School Level: High School
    I wove into my US Government class. Often when we would listen to pieces of TAL - I ask them to do the equivalent of RSAnimate, on paper while they listen. Jot things down, find connections, sketch, whatever... generally, it keeps them listening for key concepts, gives them a place to jot down questions and doodle ... I rarely assign this as homework, listening is hard for a video generation, we tend to listen together and I give them something to do while listening. I don't do this more than once a quarter, in each class... and we would never listen to an entire episode together, but chunks of it... and then time for discussion and processing with the room.
  • 355: The Giant Pool of Money

    355: The Giant Pool of Money

    Subject: History
    School Level: High School
    I use excerpts from "Giant Pool of Money," "Keynes vs. Hayek," Mike Birbiglia's "Sleep Walk with Me," "Flight Vs. Invisibility," a Studs Turkel excerpt, "Hollands Opus," to name a few. I use them in my History 12 class and my Theory of Knowledge class as introductions to concepts and themes for further discussion.
  • 354: Mistakes Were Made

    354: Mistakes Were Made

    Subject: English
    School Level: High School
    I'm trying to figure out ways to integrate "Mistakes were made" into my AP poetry unit, particularly the use of "This is just to say." Brilliant!
  • 348: Tough Room

    348: Tough Room

    Subject: English
    School Level: High School
    While I find myself using countless episodes that relate to various areas of study in both my English and Creative Writing classes, a stalwart in my stable of shows is Episode 348: "Tough Room." As soon as the subject of what is funny and what is not surfaces in my Advanced Creative Writing class (and it always does), I let them listen to The Onion staff break down their headline selection process; a tutorial that's a necessary rite of passage in the process of writers developing the thick skins needed to endure and appreciate meaningful critiques of their work. We too debate why "Local girlfriend always wants to do stuff" gets the nod over "Nations' girlfriends call for more quality time," and we have TAL to thank for that!
  • 347: Matchmakers

    347: Matchmakers

    Subject: English
    School Level: High School
    My favorite TAL piece to use in the classroom is Elna Baker
  • 322: Shouting Across the Divide

    322: Shouting Across the Divide

    Subject: Social Studies
    School Level: High School
    Grade 9, act 2 about Serry and the discrimination her family suffered for being Muslim
  • 340: The Devil in Me

    340: The Devil in Me

    Subject: English
    School Level: High School
    we listened to Act 1 of episode 340: The Devil in Me. Again, we talked about the themes and about how Sam Slaven's experiences in overcoming his biases relate to how Reuven Malter of Chaim Potok's The Chosen changes his views about truth and his world.
  • 310: Habeas Schmabeas

    310: Habeas Schmabeas

    Subject: English
    School Level: High School
    Later that year we listened to episode 310: Habeas Schmabeas when we began to write persuasive essays. The essay we were preparing to write dealt with whether the U.S. should spend its resources on issues overseas, so we were given other things to listen to and different articles to read. I don't remember what all of the resources we were given were, but one of them was an episode of RadioWest called God's Jury about the Spanish Inquisition and how the U.S.'s use of torture reflects the Inquisition.
  • 282: DIY

    282: DIY

    Subject: Social Studies
    School Level: High School
    Objective: Students will be able to identify and explain which of the Amendments were used and misused in the DIY story. Students will then be able to determine if the case in DIY shows that the Amendments work or not. Procedure: 1. Review the Amendments, particularly the Rights of the Accused (4-8). 2. Listen to DIY. Identify examples where the Amendments were used correctly or misused, 3. Write an essay in which you argue whether the DIY story shows the Amendments work or not.
  • 268: My Experimental Phase

    268: My Experimental Phase

    Subject: Art, Performing Arts
    School Level: High School
    I use the episode about Curly Oxide. I teach a rock/funk based curriculum at a performing arts high school in Ohio. We use the episode to discuss the value of persona vs song writing.
  • 241: 20 Acts in 60 Minutes

    241: 20 Acts in 60 Minutes

    Subject: English
    School Level: High School
    I've used both the "20 Stories in 60 Minutes" episode and the "Comedians of Christmas" episodes in the classroom as writing models (both with 9th graders). The first was used to illustrate that a complete story could be very short. And the second, specifically Wyatt Cenac's story, was used as a model for adding humor to a writer's voice. You don't know how many times teachers hear the question "can it be funny?" Yes, kids, yes it can.
  • 235: The Balloon Goes Up

    235: The Balloon Goes Up

    Subject: History
    School Level: High School
    I've had my students in US history listen to a segment from a show that aired not long after 9/11 - I think it was called "What Peace forgets about war" - it was a segment with an excerpt of an reticle (a long article I might add - because I went and found it) about the World War II. Part talked how about the Vikings would have understood why the war got so savage, and part talked about the battle of Midway. I'm not really sure how students appreciated it, and I had no handouts. But kids, unless they know someone in airway or Afghanistan, always seem to have a sanitized view of war.
  • 223: Classifieds

    223: Classifieds

    Subject: Communications
    School Level: High School
    Act 2 - see attached worksheet
  • 219: High Speed Chase

    219: High Speed Chase

    Subject: English
    School Level: High School
    I've used the story about the cops chasing the couple (High Speed Chase) when teaching To Kill a Mockingbird. My suburban, mostly white, students in Iowa would walk away from TKAM thinking it was a thing that used to happen long ago in the South. I'd play High Speed Chase and then ask them to find and share an incident of racism that occurred within the last 5 years in Iowa or in a bordering state.
  • 218: Act V

    218: Act V

    Subject: English
    School Level: High School
    Teaching Hamlet
  • 218: Act V

    218: Act V

    Subject: English
    School Level: High School
    I love listening to "Act V" when teaching Hamlet. I'm sure I'm not alone. I've always been struck by a question Jack Hitt raises in the episode: can most people really relate to Hamlet? The plot is weird, and often downright ridiculous. Hamlet is saved from death at the hands of the king of England by the timely arrival of some pirates. Huh? Hamlet's father died, but he's somehow not the king now? And nobody really seems to care? The specifics of Hamlet feel so foreign to my life, and to my students' lives. Listening to Act V lets us have a conversation about the way the play might look to someone who's really grappling with the problems of conscience in the play. After students listen to the episode for homework, they come to class wanting to talk about the interesting personalities of the story - Big Hutch, the prisoner who plays the ghost - but also wanting to grapple with the big questions of the play in a more grounded, real way than is often possible when talking about 500-year-old literature. I like to pair "Act V" with Laura Bohannan's great "Shakespeare in the Bush," in which the author attempts to tell the story of Hamlet to members of the Tiv tribe in Africa. The Tiv elders' understanding of the themes and plot of the play in very different from Bohannan's, a result of different cultural understandings. Both "Act V" and "Shakespeare in the Bush" encourage thought about how universal Hamlet is, what kinds of divides art can overcome, and what kinds it can't. Also, "Act V" is just beautifully structured, well-written, and dramatic. Students get that, and are wowed by the episode as a piece of writing on its own. It is important for young writers to hear how great writing can be.
  • 218: Act V

    218: Act V

    Subject: English
    School Level: High School
    I have written a series of lessons on Shakespeare, and have incorporated the TAM #218 by Jack Hitt on Hamlet, Act V. I am currently undertaking my final practicum placement at an all boys school, with students from a very diverse range of backgrounds. Students that have been relocated from Sudan, Indonesia and China, with Indigenous students and very anglo students and students of other backgrounds who are first, second or third generation from migrants, the classrooms are rather magnificently diverse. Accessing Shakespeare is a challenge in this environment. Using your show, the language and connectedness to the text of Hamlet has been an amazing example to the boys of how meaning is made. Sometimes even if you're not in love with the text to begin with, your show revealed how the boys might discover something truly wonderful about themselves, or about the world beyond their classroom, if they are able to persist and listen. Reading means so much more than viewing words on a page.
  • 218: Act V

    218: Act V

    Subject: English
    School Level: High School
    The next school year I took Mr. Nagro's Shakespeare class. It is by far one of the best classes I took in high school; slackers took it since we didn't have any homework and of course the students interested in the Humanities took it, but by the end of the semester it seemed that almost everyone was pretty glad to be there. Nagro obviously recognized what kind of a group he had and was anxious to help us see that Shakespeare and other "prestigious" names and their works aren't just for scholars, but for everyone. We talked about this a lot more after we listened to episode 218: Act V. The one thing that stuck with a lot of us was when one inmate talked about how he found out he wasn't stupid - just uneducated.
  • 218: Act V

    218: Act V

    Subject: English
    School Level: High School
    I teach Hamlet and the episode you aired of the prisoners performing Hamlet at the maximum security prison in-- I believe-- Mississippi is incredible, moving and powerful. This episode connects kids to the real life of Hamlet and the stories of the prisoners are heart wrenching and so impactful. My high school seniors love it. Thanks for doing the positive powerful work you do. It enriches my work.
  • 218: Act V

    218: Act V

    Subject: English
    School Level: High School
    The TAL story that I've used the most regularly, and to the best student response, is "Act V," about the prison production of Hamlet's Act V. We listen to the whole episode (or as much as a class period can allow) after finishing our study of Hamlet, and the students always listen raptly. It brings such a different perspective for these kids-- fairly privileged tenth-graders-- to view Shakespeare as something that "real people," even felons, can get into. I love it!
  • 218: Act V

    218: Act V

    Subject: Art
    School Level: High School
    I haven't taught in years, but if I were to return to it, there is one episode I would absolutely use in the classroom (and it also happens to be my all-time favorite episode of TAL). That is Episode 218: "Act V" about the prison inmates performing Hamlet. It is to me the most perfect episode of This American Life, and has so much to say about the transformative power of theater.
  • 218: Act V

    218: Act V

    Subject: English
    School Level: High School
    I have only used one episode in my class (so far!)- Act V, about the prison that puts on a production of Hamlet. I use this during my Hamlet unit with seniors, and it always gives them a different perspective on the play. It shows them how Shakespeare can speak into different cultures and climates, despite the language difficulties.
  • 216: Give the People What They Want

    216: Give the People What They Want

    Subject: History
    School Level: High School
    I love to play the Jack Hitt segment on the Naming of America the class before Thanksgiving. (Columbus day might be another great opportunity.) I think it sparks some really interesting discussions about how we think about founding moments, about what makes America's early history unique.
  • 216: Give the People What They Want

    216: Give the People What They Want

    Subject: Communications
    School Level: High School
  • 216: Give the People What They Want

    216: Give the People What They Want

    Subject: Communications
    School Level: High School
    Act 3 - see attached worksheet
  • 210: Perfect Evidence

    210: Perfect Evidence

    Subject: Social Studies
    School Level: High School
    N/A
  • 178: Superpowers

    178: Superpowers

    Subject: English
    School Level: High School
    Last year, I made them choose flight or invisibility (making definite decisions is difficult for many 15-year-olds, and they had to do this as they entered class in about three seconds), discuss their reasons with each other (working out the superhero-y kinks, making them think about defining the powers, and working them into their real lives), and write a short story about a character who has the power they chose.
  • 178: Superpowers

    178: Superpowers

    Subject: Communications
    School Level: High School
    Act 3 - see attached worksheet
  • 178: Superpowers

    178: Superpowers

    Subject: Communications
    School Level: High School
    Act 1 - see attached worksheet
  • 173: Three Kinds of Deception

    173: Three Kinds of Deception

    Subject: Communications
    School Level: High School
    Act 2 - see attached worksheet
  • 172: 24 Hours at the Golden Apple

    172: 24 Hours at the Golden Apple

    Subject: English
    School Level: High School
    I recently came up with the idea of using an episode of This American Life
  • 164: Crime Scene

    164: Crime Scene

    Subject: Social Studies
    School Level: High School
    N/A
  • 151: Primary

    151: Primary

    Subject: English
    School Level: High School
    One episode I have used with my AP Language class is the episode where Sarah Vowell reported on how changing one word used by Al Gore created such a backlash. Gore said "That was the one that started it all" and it was reported that he said "I was the one that started it all." I wanted my students to see the power of language and how we need to evaluate our sources for reliability.
  • 149: Bedside Diplomacy

    149: Bedside Diplomacy

    Subject: Communications
    School Level: High School
    Act 4 - see attached worksheet
  • 145: Poultry Slam 1999

    145: Poultry Slam 1999

    Subject: Communications
    School Level: High School
    Act 2 - see attached worksheet
  • 145: Poultry Slam 1999

    145: Poultry Slam 1999

    Subject: Communications
    School Level: High School
    Act 3 - see attached worksheet
  • 132: Father's Day '99

    132: Father's Day '99

    Subject: English
    School Level: High School
    I used Jack Hitt's story of the man who searched the dump for his son's lost Teddy Bear as an introductory brainstorming activity for an "everyday heroes" writing assignment: http://www.brockenglish.com/7/post/2013/08/writers-response-what-makes-a-hero1.html
  • 119: Lockup

    119: Lockup

    Subject: Social Studies
    School Level: High School
    N/A
  • 110: Mapping

    110: Mapping

    Subject: English
    School Level: High School
    I wanted to use the Mapping episode, specifically the act about hearing, in my high school English class as part of some sensory language work within a poetry unit.
  • 111: Adventures in the Simple Life

    111: Adventures in the Simple Life

    Subject: English
    School Level: High School
    I played the Eustace Conway story about traveling across the US on horseback as part of a lesson on Thoreau and naturalism.
  • 109: Notes on Camp

    109: Notes on Camp

    Subject: Social Studies
    School Level: High School
    Great clip to discuss groups particularly ingroup vs outgroup
  • 105: Take A Negro Home

    105: Take A Negro Home

    Subject: Social Studies
    School Level: High School
    Grades 11-12, Act 2 about Cedric Jennings
  • 104: Music Lessons

    104: Music Lessons

    Subject: Art, Performing Arts
    School Level: High School
    I also use the David Serdaris family jazz band episode just for pure entertainment with the kids and to talk about how to practice and what it is like to teach lessons for a living.
  • 27: The Cruelty of Children

    27: The Cruelty of Children

    Subject: Social Studies
    School Level: High School
    N/A
  • 27: The Cruelty of Children

    27: The Cruelty of Children

    Subject: English
    School Level: High School
    The second week of class, we listened to Vivian Paley's classroom experiment ("You can't say you can't play") from episode #27: The Cruelty of Children. Students learned to take Cornell Notes by following along as I modeled the skill, then applied the notetaking system as we watched several other videos exploring the possibilities for classroom learning. Students reflected on the questions "What do we want our classroom to be like?" and "What would my ideal classroom look like?" and supported their thinking with these media texts and printed articles and commentaries. Our work culminated in a Socratic Seminar where we discussed these questions and established some goals for our year together. These activities support Common Core State Standards in every category (Reading, Writing, Language, and Speaking & Listening), and the podcast allowed students to focus on listening skills while learning a college-ready notetaking tool. The work and discussion set a tone for our year and students have risen to their own high expectations for learners.

College

  • 507: Confessions

    507: Confessions

    Subject: Social Studies
    School Level: College
    I am teaching criminology next term and will likely use the recent episode on Confessions.
  • 506: Secret Identity

    506: Secret Identity

    Subject: Social Studies
    School Level: College
    Today our US/Mexico border studies seminar ("Living on the Frontera," University of Richmond Sophomore Scholars program) will be discussing Alma Guillermoprieto's New Yorker piece from 9/29/2003, "A Hundred Women," pubished at the 10-year annivesary of the start of the Ju
  • 505: Use Only as Directed

    505: Use Only as Directed

    Subject: Psychology
    School Level: College
    Pain (and management of pain)
  • 504: How I Got Into College

    504: How I Got Into College

    School Level: College
    I'm actually a teacher candidate at Lakehead University here in Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada. I used Michael Lewis' story on plagiarism for a presentation I gave to other teacher candidates on the consequences of misbehaviours in the classroom.
  • 503: I Was Just Trying To Help

    503: I Was Just Trying To Help

    Subject: Psychology
    School Level: College
    Research methods
  • 501: The View From In Here

    501: The View From In Here

    Subject: Psychology
    School Level: College
    Conformity and obedience (including Standford Prison Experiment)
  • 498: The One Thing You're Not Supposed To Do

    498: The One Thing You're Not Supposed To Do

    Subject: Social Studies
    School Level: College
    Most recently, this semester my students listened to act one of E.498 (The One Thing You're Not Supposed to Do). We were talking about tactics used in social movements and they were blown away by that particular tactic.
  • 492: Dr. Gilmer and Mr. Hyde

    492: Dr. Gilmer and Mr. Hyde

    Subject: Psychology
    School Level: College
    I'm a psychologist compiling notes for an introduction to psychology course for the upcoming fall semester. I heard the "Dr. Gilmer and Mr. Hyde" on the radio and have since downloaded it. I've listened to this story a few times, and the latter half of the podcast seems like it would be a very interesting supplement to a lecture I'd like to give on psychological disorders and the brain.
  • 492: Dr. Gilmer and Mr. Hyde

    492: Dr. Gilmer and Mr. Hyde

    Subject: Psychology
    School Level: College
    Course Topic: Legal & Ethical Issues in Abnormal Psychology
  • 492: Dr. Gilmer and Mr. Hyde

    492: Dr. Gilmer and Mr. Hyde

    Subject: Psychology
    School Level: College
    The nervous system (and disorders)
  • 492: Dr. Gilmer and Mr. Hyde

    492: Dr. Gilmer and Mr. Hyde

    Subject: English
    School Level: College
    Episode 492, Dr. Gilmer and Mr. Hyde, shows students how necessary it is to look at both sides of a story. This works really well when we talk about the argument and the counterargument.
  • 490: Trends With Benefits

    490: Trends With Benefits

    Subject: Economics
    School Level: College
    This is one of the best episodes of TAL I have ever heard, and I've been a fan of the show for years. In fact, this is one of the best examples of investigative journalism I have ever encountered. I'm a professional economist, and I had no idea about the growth of the Federal Disability program. I've used this in my introductory macroeconomics course to talk about structural unemployment, and will no doubt use it in my upcoming course on poverty and discrimination.
  • 487: Harper High School, Part One

    487: Harper High School, Part One

    Subject: Humanities
    School Level: College

    My research is on genocide and atrocities, but I also teach a first year course on the humanities. The subject of my course is human nature, obviously. We use classic texts to try and discern the writers' particular understanding of human nature. One of the texts that I have used for years is On the Souls of Black Folk by WEB Dubois. This year I also had them listen to your podcast on Harper high school in conjunction with this text. I usually ask them to write essays that ask them to assess how far we've come with his vision. In years past, I have been frustrated by their naïve misguided presumptions that we live in an era of educational equality, based on merit alone. And while I have tried to address this in class, it has been frustrating. After hearing that podcasts, I required them all to listen to it before they wrote their essays. I did not ask them to include it in the essay, or to write about the podcast. I just asked them to listen to it before they wrote. Wow! Nearly every one of my students included some reference to this podcast in their essay.

    I can't tell you what a difference this made. Not only did this affect the way they saw WEB DuBois, it has turned out to be the single most influential piece of the entire course. I am in the midst of reading their final reflections and well over half of my students have made reference to this podcast. This was one of the most effective wake-up calls of their young lives. You struck a perfect balance between giving raw data, which is never that effective on its own for kids this age, and giving them the story and narrative behind the data.

  • 487: Harper High School, Part One

    487: Harper High School, Part One

    Subject: English
    School Level: College
    This semester, I asked students to evaluate the "Harper High School" podcasts in my academic essay writing class (they're all social service worker students).
  • 487: Harper High School, Part One

    487: Harper High School, Part One

    Subject: Media
    School Level: College
    Tied into Video Game Lecture and Gatekeeping
  • 487: Harper High School, Part One

    487: Harper High School, Part One

    Subject: English
    School Level: College
    We use the Harper High pieces in our Intro to Journ classes as an example of in-depth storytelling.
  • 487: Harper High School, Part One

    487: Harper High School, Part One

    Subject: Humanities
    School Level: College
    We use classic texts to try and discern the writers' particular understanding of human nature. One of the texts that I have used for years is "On the Souls of Black Folk" by WEB Dubois. This year I also had them listen to your podcast on Harper high school in conjunction with this text. I usually ask them to write essays that ask them to assess how far we've come with his vision. In years past, I have been frustrated by their na
  • 487: Harper High School, Part One

    487: Harper High School, Part One

    Subject: Social Studies
    School Level: College
    I've also offered listening to and writing a reflection on relevant episodes as extra credit. I've done this with E. 461 and the Harper High School episodes.
  • 487: Harper High School, Part One

    487: Harper High School, Part One

    Subject: English
    School Level: College
    I also use the episodes about Harper High School because it discusses the way students are "captive." I like the way you incorporate so many different voices in a story. This teaches students how important it is to go beyond themselves. I always tell them, when they write, to use their authentic voice, and that is what they hear when they listen to TAL. It works on many levels.
  • 484: Doppelgängers

    484: Doppelgängers

    Subject: Psychology
    School Level: College
    I taught Psychiatric Nursing and used the Podcast episode "Doppelgangers" in the classroom. I assigned my students to listen to Act 2- "In country, In city" to give my students a better understanding of what a patient experiences when managing symptoms of PTSD. Also, I really wanted the students to understand that PTSD is not only something experienced by war veterans. I thought that Curtis Jefferson's story was particularly compelling, and I hoped to increase understanding and empathy among my students for individuals who come from violent backgrounds, particularly in urban areas. My student population was mostly caucasian, upper middle class students, and one of my main goals in this course was to broaden their perspectives. Of course, understanding and empathy are key to good nursing care. Anyways, I led a classroom discussion about this podcast, and it was very effective. The parallels drawn between the 2 main contributors were poignant, and my students expressed surprise, increased awareness, and some amount of paradigm shift after listening to this podcast. Many students said they hadn't considered someone from violent inner cities to have PTSD, and that they would be more aware in the future. Also,I included this essay question on their exam: Short Answer (6 points): From the Podcast, In Country, In City (Act 2 of Doppelgangers from This American Life), select one of the main characters:
  • 479: Little War on the Prairie

    479: Little War on the Prairie

    Subject: History
    School Level: College
    N/A
  • 479: Little War on the Prairie

    479: Little War on the Prairie

    Subject: History
    School Level: College
    I used this episode to illustrate the struggles of the Native Americans and the colonists, settlers, pioneers and US government and military. It brings history to life and makes it relevant, as well as giving my students "study materials" that isn't just a reading. I also hope that it turns them on to podcasts.
  • 476: What Doesn't Kill You

    476: What Doesn't Kill You

    School Level: College
    I teach Public Speaking and Interpersonal Communication. I believe storytelling is integral to every kind of speech we give - and how we communication with others daily - so I happily direct students to This American Life to get a taste of the best. The piece I use in both classes is Ira's exceptional interview with Tig Notaro (476: What Doesn't Kill You, Oct 5, 2012). A great springboard for discussing: Self-Disclosure, Storytelling, Public Discourse. What is so extraordinary about Notaro's "set" is how - although she is both physically and emotionally vulnerable - she is empowered by the very act of doing what she loves best. Laughter is what comics crave - right? It's like air, food, water, life. What other choice does she have? What other way to have some semblance of control?
  • 476: What Doesn't Kill You

    476: What Doesn't Kill You

    Subject: English
    School Level: College
    In the first-year composition classes I taught, I focused on argumentation and rhetorical analysis, as opposed to the traditional (and antiquated) literature-based comp curriculum. My classes placed value on rhetorical situation, which is comprised of four elements: writer, reader, text, and context. Text, in my class, is defined as any medium that holds and transmits information. An empty classroom is a text. A conversation is a text. A glance from a cute person walking down the street is a text (should you choose to read it as such). To determine the argument that it makes, intentionally or not, we have to analyze and interpret all four of those elements. Who
  • 476: What Doesn't Kill You

    476: What Doesn't Kill You

    Subject: Psychology
    School Level: College
    N/A
  • 476: What Doesn't Kill You

    476: What Doesn't Kill You

    Subject: Psychology
    School Level: College
    N/A
  • 474: Back to School

    474: Back to School

    Subject: English
    School Level: College
    See attached worksheet
  • 474: Back to School

    474: Back to School

    Subject: English
    School Level: College
    I used "Back to School" (Sept. 2012) in a freshman (college) writing class last fall. The students in all sections were required to study Paulo Freire's banking concept of education. I decided to make education the focus of the course. Let me say that my sections were at-risk mostly African-American students with marginal preparation for college and little understanding of how to succeed. I was hoping elements of the course would help these students find paths to success in college. We looked at an NYT essay by Charles Blow on his experiences as a child with PBS as an educational tool (this was when Mitt Romney was promising to "get rid of Big Bird" if he won the presidency). And I had chosen from the class text an excerpt from John Edgar Wideman's Brothers and Keepers. Wideman worked pretty well. One brother used education to launch himself into a better future - the other, younger brother scorned school and following a "straight" path and ended up in prison. While the language was difficult in place, the story resonated. But I had many problems with students not attending and not doing assignments. I was sitting at home one Saturday stressing about how to reach my students when the "Back to School" episode - with information and tools my students needed to get through the semester. The experience in TAL of Chicago student Kewauna Lerma was especially helpful. I decided to approach the subject in an oblique way, asking them how the younger brother in Wideman, Robbie, could have applied the concepts in the TAL episode to his own life (rather than using it to lecture about what I thought they should personally do). Ultimately, comparing elements in Wideman to elements in TAL was very successful (I'd be lying if I said the class ended up going well - nearly all of them shut down and refused to engage with Freire). I would use the TAL episide again if I had the chance. For at-risk students, it was a practical roadmap.
  • 474: Back to School

    474: Back to School

    Subject: Economics
    School Level: College
    I teach economics at a liberal arts college in Western New York (Hobart and William Smith Colleges). I taught an introductory class on the economics of education and also an upper level course on labor economics. I used this episode in both classes. Students were responsible for listening to the episode on their own outside of class and then we had a guided discussion in class. Students in the intro class were also responsible for reading How Children Succeed (which, I believe, is a focal point of this episode). I also played a clip of an episode for the labor course on discrimination. It was the story the attorney told about posing as waitstaff at a country club.
  • 474: Back to School

    474: Back to School

    Subject: Psychology
    School Level: College
    Stress
  • 469: Hiding in Plain Sight

    469: Hiding in Plain Sight

    Subject: Social Studies
    School Level: College
    In the introductory course, I've used the story of the one-armed woman in E. 469 (Hiding in Plain Sight) to illustrate the concept of "master status."
  • 466: Blackjack

    466: Blackjack

    Subject: Psychology
    School Level: College
    Addiction
  • 465: What Happened At Dos Erres

    465: What Happened At Dos Erres

    Subject: History
    School Level: College
    In my History of Latin America class (community college level), I've had the students listen to or read the transcript of What Happened at Dos Erres as homework for the class covering the civil wars in Central America. It provided a good starting point for discussion, and it got across the nature of the wars in a much more vivid manner than I ever could as a lecturer.
  • 462: Own Worst Enemy

    462: Own Worst Enemy

    Subject: Psychology
    School Level: College
    N/A
  • 461: Take the Money and Run for Office

    461: Take the Money and Run for Office

    Subject: Political Science, Science
    School Level: College
    I'm a professor of Political Science and used the "money and politics" episode in intro to american politics. I might have episode name wrong but it opens with a member of congress dial for dollars. The students referenced that podcast throughout the semester. It connected campaigns and elections, theories or politics (elite, pluralism, etc) and gridlock well
  • 461: Take the Money and Run for Office

    461: Take the Money and Run for Office

    Subject: Political Science, Science
    School Level: College
    I use the podcast during the chapter that we discuss Congress. There is a short section on campaign finance, so this episode fits right in. Students are asked to listen and write a short response to talk about the reforms they would like to see to campaign finance. Overall, they really enjoy this assignment. It
  • 461: Take the Money and Run for Office

    461: Take the Money and Run for Office

    Subject: Social Studies
    School Level: College
    In an upper division course on social order and social change, I've used E. 461 - Take the Money and Run for Office - In a previous semester, we listened to the prologue and act one and discussed it
  • 458: Play the Part

    458: Play the Part

    Subject: Diversity, Psychology
    School Level: College
    I teach an upper division elective undergrad class at UCLA called "Perspectives on Autism and Neurodiversity," cross-listed between the Psychology department and Disability Studies minor. I have played the story from Karen and Dave Fincher, "Wife Lessons" from Ep 405 to spur discussion about the "extreme male brain theory" of autism that was really popular for a while in the research field and is still common in popular understandings of high-functioning autism (is Dave just like a typical guy, but more so?). I also use it to illustrate how people might use diagnoses such as Aspergers to make sense of their own lives... It's a perfect way to illustrate the "lived experience" of neurological difference. I've taught the class for three summers and the students always love the podcast and it always leads to a really interesting engagement with class material, so thank you!
  • 454: Mr. Daisey and the Apple Factory

    454: Mr. Daisey and the Apple Factory

    Subject: English
    School Level: College
    The first compares the two Apple podcasts (I have a copy of "Mr. Daisey and the Apple Factory" in mp3 format that students can listen to). This assignment helps them to understand the skill of argument, author/narrator skills in creating believability/credibility, as well as the importance of thorough research (sorry). We take them up in class and discuss students' answers and reactions to the episodes.
  • 454: Mr. Daisey and the Apple Factory

    454: Mr. Daisey and the Apple Factory

    Subject: Media
    School Level: College
    With the Mike Daisey story, there was a failure at the gatekeeping level. Now aspects of the story are true, but then the misinformation or error becomes the new story. It also hurts the creditably of TAL, but at the same time TAL did everything right in the PR playbook. Around the same period of time there was the BP oil spill in the Gulf. So I can compare how BP did everything wrong and TAL, and even Apple, did everything right in reference to PR. But I also talked about the hidden cost in our technology (labor and ewaste) and the history with artificial obsolesce and branding. Humans survived centuries upon centuries when our only technology was fire and a pointy stick and now we need a new iPhone every other year at most.
  • 454: Mr. Daisey and the Apple Factory

    454: Mr. Daisey and the Apple Factory

    Subject: Media
    School Level: College
    I also use Mike Daisy and the Chinese iphone factory in my mass media classes. Honestly, that got even better as a teaching tool when the problems with the first episode were discovered. We listen to both the first episode as well as the second episode when Daisy returns to TAL and discuss a host of media related issues. It
  • 451: Back to Penn State

    451: Back to Penn State

    Subject: English
    School Level: College

    I didn’t know much about Florida State before I came here for my master’s degree, but I learned quickly that they are football crazy here. It’s not something that should have surprised me — I attended a state school myself, Ohio State, and football is nearly elevated to a religion there. Teaching at Florida State, however, was my first time observing college football madness from an outsider’s point of view. And let me tell you, it was disconcerting.

    On game day, students get up before sunrise to start drinking, holler at anyone not dressed in Garnett and Gold, and back up traffic for miles. Entire streets close down. Speaking of elevating football to a religion, there’s an enormous stained-glass window of former football coach Bobby Bowden at the stadium. All of which is to say nothing about the school’s extremely problematic mascot, Chief Osceola, or the racist chants like “Scalp ‘em. Noles!”

    Of course, a lot of this will be familiar to you at This American Life. It’s essentially a North Florida version of what goes on at State College, PA every weekend. The binge drinking, the rowdy school spirit, and the blind loyalty are all there. It made me concerned for my students — not just their physical safety, but their critical thinking skills. How can you truly be a critical thinker when football trumps everything?

    That’s when I decided to put the prologue of Episode 451, Back to Penn State, on the class blog. The (possibly) drunk girl talking about how the administration handles things perfectly (only two years away from news of the Sandusky scandal breaking) could have been any number of Florida State students talking to This American Life reporters. I posted the clip alongside a journal prompt titled, “What if Penn State Had Happened at Florida State?” I asked them to consider, in their responses, the influence of football over student life, the accountability of administrators, the nature of fandom. I have a link to the prompt and the responses here.

    The responses were OK. Hannah B worried the school’s current winning record would blind some people to doing the right thing, and Kaitlyn K addressed the dangers of fan violence. No one really questioned the importance of football or renounced the corporatization of state schools like I’d hoped. A fair number of the posts, to my chagrin, ended with something like, “I’d be sorry it happened, but I’d still be proud to be a Seminole.”

    Truth is, my hardest-working students had mostly completed their allotted blog posts by this point in the semester, so online discussion was not as rigorous as I’d have liked it to be. We had some decent carry-over of the discussion during class time, but I didn’t play the clip from the episode in class. All of which is to say: the lesson could have gone better, but that’s on me, not This American Life. I think I’ll definitely use it again in semesters to come.

  • 441: When Patents Attack!

    441: When Patents Attack!

    Subject: Media
    School Level: College
    Longtail economic model
  • 441: When Patents Attack!

    441: When Patents Attack!

    Subject: Business, Law
    School Level: College
    I am requiring my students to listen to When Patents Attack (both episodes)
  • 436: The Psychopath Test

    436: The Psychopath Test

    Subject: Psychology
    School Level: College
    Course Topic: Psychopathy & Antisocial Personality Disorder
  • 433: Fine Print 2011

    433: Fine Print 2011

    School Level: College
    N/A
  • 424: Kid Politics

    424: Kid Politics

    Subject: Social Studies
    School Level: College
    In a unit on Climate Change in a Social Problems course, I used the interview between a Climatologist and a 15 year old girl. We followed up that interview with what influences our choices to believe particular evidence.
  • 423: The Invention of Money

    423: The Invention of Money

    Subject: Economics
    School Level: College
    I work with students with learning disabilities at Northeastern University. For my students who take Econ, I usually have them listen to episode #433, The Invention of Money. It really helps them get a perspective on what they're supposed to be learning in the class AND makes it really interesting for them. Learning is always easier and more interesting through stories, so this is a perfect episode.
  • 423: The Invention of Money

    423: The Invention of Money

    Subject: Anthropology
    School Level: College
    I have used some episodes for class participation assignments (specifically episodes 423, The Invention of Money and 341 How to Talk to Kids). I get them to listen to the podcast and answer questions for which they get participation points in the class. The last question is always what did the boss Torey Malatea say because they have to listen all the way to the end to get the answer to that one.
  • 423: The Invention of Money

    423: The Invention of Money

    Subject: Philosophy
    School Level: College
    I was incredibly excited to bring a This American Life episode into my Persons, Moral Values, and Good Life introduction to Philosophy class during the Fall 2012 semester at Penn State University. The prologue to episode 423: The Invention of Money dovetailed nicely with our readings from Marx's Communist Manifesto. More specifically, the prologue to the episode helped my students understand Marx's conception of money (or capital) as an abstract commodity. Additionally, they really enjoyed the introduction of multi-media into the classroom.
  • 419: Petty Tyrant

    419: Petty Tyrant

    Subject: Psychology
    School Level: College
    I used the tyrant episode (about the head of maintenance in a school district) to demonstrate personality disorders in my college level course in personality psychology. We listened to that segment in class.
  • 418: Toxie

    418: Toxie

    Subject: Business, Law
    School Level: College
    I teach business law at Salisbury University in Maryland, and have used two episodes regularly in my classes. The first is Toxie, the Toxic Asset, which explores the mortgage crisis, and the second is the one that explains the financial meltdown, entitled Eat My Shorts. Both make a complex and difficult topic understandable.
  • 413: Georgia Rambler

    413: Georgia Rambler

    Subject: English
    School Level: College
    I use Georgia Rambler for any of my Intro Journalism classes. . . as instruction on GOING OUT AND GETTING STORIES. . .
  • 412: Million Dollar Idea

    412: Million Dollar Idea

    School Level: College
    N/A
  • 403: NUMMI

    403: NUMMI

    Subject: Business, Leadership
    School Level: College
    I use the NUMMI episode of TAL to illustrate the importance of creating a proper work environment. The class I teach is a leadership class for undergraduates, and the episode
  • 403: NUMMI

    403: NUMMI

    Subject: Business, Leadership
    School Level: College
    403: Nummi is an excellent case study for Operations Management courses and should be considered as such.
  • 402: Save the Day

    402: Save the Day

    Subject: English
    School Level: College
    I teach an introduction to composition to first-year college students at a large public university, and sometimes at a local community college as well. I use the Life Raft Debate segment from episode 402, "Save the Day," to talk about counter arguments, acknowledging your opponents' views, ethical argument, and, of course, fields of college study (which is usually my writing topic for their papers). Often I have us listen to this episode, look up how the debate went this most recent year, and prepare to have a debate in our classroom about some other topic.
  • 401: Parent Trap

    401: Parent Trap

    Subject: Psychology
    School Level: College
    N/A
  • 258: Leaving the Fold

    258: Leaving the Fold

    Subject: Social Studies
    School Level: College
    I often mention show #258 Leaving the Fold Act 3: Nuns Amok because it delves into Catholics in Appalachia and features Helen Lewis who is known as the grandmother of Appalachian Studies.
  • 396: #1 Party School

    396: #1 Party School

    Subject: English
    School Level: College
    Coming up soon, I am going to be using "#1 Party School." My students are learning to write a profile of something
  • 391: More Is Less

    391: More Is Less

    Subject: Ethics
    School Level: College
    The one place where I explicitly include TAL in the lesson plan is the in my Bioethics course, which students have to listent to both hours of the 2-part episode on US health care system (More is Less and Somebody Else's Money) and then respond to the following question: "Respond to the two episodes of This American Life that examine the current health care system and the efforts to reform it. What ethical conflicts do the various stories illustrate or raise? As each story concludes, how does your understanding of the core principles of the American health care system change? What are those principles, as they exist today? What should they be, do you think? This exercise will be especially interesting if you can live blog your impressions while listening to the programs."
  • 387: Arms Trader 2009

    387: Arms Trader 2009

    Subject: English
    School Level: College
    I like to start out a semester by assigning Arms Trade, episode 387. We often talk about captivity, the ways in which we are all held captive, either directly or indirectly, and this episode provides a compelling example. It makes the students think about how we end up in certain situations, and if we deserve to be there. There is always an argument to be had.
  • 386: Fine Print

    386: Fine Print

    Subject: Business, Leadership
    School Level: College
    I
  • 379: Return To The Scene Of The Crime

    379: Return To The Scene Of The Crime

    Subject: English
    School Level: College
    Dan Savage's story
  • 379: Return To The Scene Of The Crime

    379: Return To The Scene Of The Crime

    Subject: Psychology
    School Level: College
    N/A
  • 374: Somewhere Out There

    374: Somewhere Out There

    Subject: Psychology
    School Level: College
    N/A
  • 374: Somewhere Out There

    374: Somewhere Out There

    Subject: Psychology
    School Level: College
    N/A
  • 374: Somewhere Out There

    374: Somewhere Out There

    School Level: College
    In "Somewhere Out There," (http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/374/somewhere-out-there) I ask students to listen to the story of Lily and Thomasina. These are future elementary teachers who often don't believe that gender is fluid or something that young kids think much about - girls are simply girls and boys are simply boys. After listening to this beautiful story of friendship, identity, and courage, they not only have a much more nuanced idea of gender, but emerge as advocates of young children with non-conforming identities. Several students pledge not to say "boys and girls" anymore to address their students (using "friends" or "scholars" or some other non-gendered term) and return to their field placements with a critical eye - what would their classrooms be like for students like Lily and Thomasina? What policies and practices will best help to support their families? It is the voices of these young kids - Chloe, Thomasina, and Lily - that are so powerful and remind my students to listen to their kids. The stories they have to tell are much more complicated, powerful, troubling, and hopeful than we can imagine. We have a lot to learn from them - especially if we want to teach them anything.
  • 370: Ruining It for the Rest of Us

    370: Ruining It for the Rest of Us

    Subject: Business, Leadership
    School Level: College
    For Venue Management
  • 370: Ruining It for the Rest of Us

    370: Ruining It for the Rest of Us

    Subject: Social Studies
    School Level: College
    N/A
  • 369: Poultry Slam 2008

    369: Poultry Slam 2008

    Subject: Social Studies
    School Level: College
    I used "A Pastor and his Flock" from "Poultry Slam 2008" in teaching my class about labor activism in the foodchain. We also watched Edward R. Murrow's 1960 report "Harvest of Shame" in class.
  • 364: Going Big

    364: Going Big

    Subject: Social Studies
    School Level: College
    In a unit about poverty in a Social Problems course, I've used Paul Tough's work with Geoffrey Canada about early and urban education.
  • 361: Fear of Sleep

    361: Fear of Sleep

    Subject: Psychology
    School Level: College
    Episode: 361, Act 1 (Fear of Sleep, Stranger in the Night) - Mike Birbiglia Course Topic: Sleep Disorders Note: This used to be tangentially related to the course material (never stopped me from playing this act - students *love* it!) but the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual's 5th edition (DSM-5; May 2013) now includes REM Sleep Behavior Disorder as a psychological/psychiatric diagnosis
  • 361: Fear of Sleep

    361: Fear of Sleep

    Subject: Psychology
    School Level: College
    N/A
  • 361: Fear of Sleep

    361: Fear of Sleep

    Subject: Psychology
    School Level: College
    In my General Psychology class, I include a link to the Fear of Sleep episode and in class, I describe Mike Birbiglia
  • 360: Switched At Birth

    360: Switched At Birth

    School Level: College
    I love using the "Switched at Birth" episode, every semester, while teaching the theme of "identity and the self". Students are fascinated by this program and cannot believe the circumstances that unfold for these two women.
  • 360: Switched At Birth

    360: Switched At Birth

    Subject: Anthropology
    School Level: College
    Kinship is a big "thing" in anthropology that is often hard for students to understand because it is not something that, in North American culture, we spend a lot of time thinking about, even though it does influence many of our decisions. The episodes I use are #360 Switched at Birth and #352 The Ghost of Bobby Dunbar. Both of these stories bring up some very interesting questions about the difference between biological kinship and social kinship. In North America, we are fairly obsessed with biological kinship and these two stories illustrate how we don't quite know how to deal with social kinship, which is, in many ways, more important.
  • 355: The Giant Pool of Money

    355: The Giant Pool of Money

    Subject: Economics
    School Level: College
    Every year I teach a large section of introductory macroeconomics (roughly 250 students). Just after the financial crisis happened, I realized the necessity of teaching the origins and consequences of the twin bubbles, in credit and housing. But I was at a loss to understand the specifics of how this nightmare developed, let alone explain it to my students. All of the acronyms - CDO, CDS, and MBS - were a mystery to me, as were the roles of the various institutions in creating this crisis, including mortgage lenders, Wall St., the Fed, etc. Then I listened to the "Giant Pool of Money" episode and holy crap it was like an entire 1970s-era-Howard-Johnson-sign's worth of light bulbs went off in my head. I got it, or came closer to getting it than ever before. Since then I've read a number of articles and a few books (currently reading "The Big Short" by Michael Lewis, which is really great), but I always returned to the "Giant Pool of Money." It's absolutely brilliant. Also, I just listened to "Inside Job" again, and will probably incorporate that into my lectures. I even created PowerPoint slides to explain all this to my students, using the "Giant Pool of Money" as the basis. I've attached the presentation.
  • 355: The Giant Pool of Money

    355: The Giant Pool of Money

    Subject: Health, Social Studies
    School Level: College
    I am a college professor in Southern California and in my class Health in a Global Society, I ask my students to listen to "The Giant Pool of Money" as a way of setting up for them an understanding of how interconnected the world really is, even if they don't necessarily feel it on a daily basis. My students - even college students - really don't have an interest in or appreciation for financial markets - until they hear this episode, of course. I'd say that even after they listen to it themselves and we go over it in class, they may not understand what CDOs are, but they do get that we live in a very tangled web of relationships and connection that have profound effects on each of us.
  • 355: The Giant Pool of Money

    355: The Giant Pool of Money

    Subject: Social Studies
    School Level: College
    The quarter of the course that I taught is focused around foundational works of social theory that have something to do with the origins and structure of modern civil society, and the nature of capitalism in particular. We read Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Adam Smith, Karl Marx and Max Weber, and finished off the quarter by listening to an interview with Michael Lewis on Fresh Air, and five episodes of This American Life - The Giant Pool of Money, The Return to the Giant Pool of Money, The Watchmen, Nummi and Inside Job. I also had an optional final meeting, during which we listened to and discussed The Invention of Money. Our classes generally revolved around questions about what modern civil society is, whether it's good for us and what it would take for it to be better. Most of the work we did aimed at understanding clearly the very difficult texts we read, working out the major differences among their authors, and then doing what we could to arbitrate between them. The earliest of the texts we read was written in the mid-18th century, and the latest was written very early in the 20th century. Listening to the radio pieces was a great way to test - and to demonstrate - how useful our texts could be in figuring out some very complicated stories about manufacturing, banking, finance and regulation in the 21st century. I know from their course evaluations that the overwhelming majority of the students loved the radio pieces. I think the general feeling was that the pieces gave students a fuller sense of the value of learning social theory, and I suspect that it made many of them more eager to become consumers of economic journalism and engaged citizens more generally. I've attached a copy of the reading schedule from the course. I could send along the lesson plans I used, but honestly - having just looked back through them - there's not much there, apart from summaries of the shows and a few general questions about what the authors we read would have said about them. I remember the discussions being lively, but most of their structure came from the students' responses to my questions.
  • 355: The Giant Pool of Money

    355: The Giant Pool of Money

    Subject: Social Studies
    School Level: College
    When popular accounts of social problems are largely dominated by explanations that attribute blame to individuals, how do we convey the role of culture and social structure, political and economic forces, social objects and discourses? I often begin
  • 352: The Ghost of Bobby Dunbar

    352: The Ghost of Bobby Dunbar

    Subject: General
    School Level: College
    See attached worksheet
  • 352: The Ghost of Bobby Dunbar

    352: The Ghost of Bobby Dunbar

    Subject: English
    School Level: College
    The most useful ones for me, so far, have been used as examples to unravel the mysteries of narrative non-fiction. The Suspect Car and The Ghost of Bobby Dunbar have proven useful. They
  • 352: The Ghost of Bobby Dunbar

    352: The Ghost of Bobby Dunbar

    Subject: Anthropology
    School Level: College
    Kinship is a big "thing" in anthropology that is often hard for students to understand because it is not something that, in North American culture, we spend a lot of time thinking about, even though it does influence many of our decisions. The episodes I use are #360 Switched at Birth and #352 The Ghost of Bob