By guest blogger Kevin Connors
From gallery walks to video analysis to song lyrics, savvy teachers are constantly searching for new, compelling ways to deliver lessons. Now, one Boston-based startup wants to make public radio a cornerstone of classroom activities, too.
Listen Current is a subscription-based website that curates public radio stories relevant to science, social studies, and English/language arts classrooms. The company just raised $950,000 in seed funding to bring public radio into more classrooms across the country.
Launched in 2013 by former public radio reporter Monica Brady-Myerov, the company currently has 4,000 registered teachers and 3,000 registered students. Listen Current is also experiencing 20 percent growth in users each month, according to the Boston Business Journal.
Specifically, Listen Current helps teachers identify the stories, create lesson plans, and align the lessons to curriculum standards. And with the common core’s emphasis on non-fiction materials, Listen Current may even help teachers with the transition to the new standards.
It’s not as if teachers have never used public radio in the classroom. It’s just that Listen Current’s goal is to make that process much easier.
“Maybe you hear a story that applies to your classroom, but then you have to find it, download it, save it and align it to your curriculum,” Brady-Myerov told the Business Journal last year.
In addition to saving teachers time, Brady-Myerov believes that public radio can also be used to teach an often-ignored skill.
“Very little classroom time is spent on honing this listening skill,” she said in that same interview. “I haven’t found a comprehensive listening product out there to help (students) become more critical listeners.”
The seed funding will be used to increase the number of stories and lesson plans available to users, hire three new employees, and provide more supports to teachers of English Language Learners.
Launchpad Venture Group led the seed round. Angel and institutional investors, including Investors Circle, NewSchools Venture Seed Fund, and the Patient Capital Collaborative, also participated.
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